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Tell Me How I'm Supposed to Breathe

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At first she thought it was a love note, but that hope quickly faded when she saw the official seal on the top. Orders. He'd gotten orders.

And just like that, all the oxygen was sucked out of her lungs.

He was leaving her, going away, to where he could die. She wanted to rail against the government that was taking him away, but the pain within her was too great. She was barely aware of her fingers scrunching around the paper, of her arm tossing it across the room. She thought her heart was going to explode out of her chest.

"I'm sorry," he whispered, before rising and moving around the room agitatedly. "But I have to go. I have to serve my country when I'm called upon."

She couldn't breathe. She couldn't tell him how much she hated that crumpled up piece of paper. She couldn't tell him how much she loved him, how much she feared for him. She couldn't catch her breath enough to speak.

He wrapped his arms around her, moving with her as she crumbled. And no words were needed. He simply held her.

As the days passed, the date on the slip grew closer. And there were still moments where she felt her lungs empty as the horror hit her. And there were still some moments where her heart felt like it was trying to claw through her ribs. But she breathed, and lived, and continued to go about her daily tasks. And always, when he wasn't at work on the base, he was there by her side.

And one, just once, he experienced a doubt and his walls crumbled a little. And she was strong enough then to pull him back to his feet. So they moved together again through their last few days.

She still worried, she still cried, and there were moments when she still gasped for air, but they were fewer. The pain, the emotions, were still there, but she was hiding them better, controlling them better.

Then the day came, the day he was supposed to leave. And she put on a brave face, as best she could. She saw others doing the same, but they were distant impressions. She wanted to wrap herself in his presence, to keep his essence with her while he was gone, but she had no idea how to do it. She wanted to grab him and hold him and never let him go. She wanted to beg and plead and demand that he stay. She wanted to kiss him until neither of them could breathe.

But she let him go.