“I got those during my first tour,” Alex said one evening. They’d both had long days so they cancelled their dinner reservations to curl up on the couch together. Alex was reading through a medical journal while Lena scrolled through quarterly reports with one hand and traced the scars on the redhead’s arm with the other as they cuddled.
Aside from the occasional anecdote Alex didn’t really talk about her time overseas. She had no issue referencing that time in her life, but details were rare. Lena had learned it was best to just listen when her girlfriend decided to share. There were questions she wanted to ask, but the time never seemed appropriate. Instead, Lena had taken to considering the stories proof that things between them were growing ever more serious. They were moments Lena couldn’t help but treasure.
“There was a structure fire and Jonesy had been pulled out, but it wasn’t safe to move him further until he was secured to a backboard. I pushed up my sleeves because of the heat, but the breeze kept picking up hot coals and dropping them on us,” Alex continued as Lena set aside her tablet.
“I didn’t even realize I’d gotten burnt until we were in the medical tent and someone pointed it out. The adrenalin kept the pain from kicking in for an hour or two.” After pausing for a few seconds the redhead chuckled, “Jonesy was concussed, but fine. He’d managed to trip over something and slam his head into the wall hard enough to knock himself out. Riley saw it happen and got him outside. Freak accident with even worse timing.
“Anyway, the burns weren’t bad, I guess I just scar easily,” the redhead admitted, setting aside her medical journal to trace some of the many scars on her hands. “You don’t ask me about my time in the army,” Alex stated.
“Do you want me to?” Lena replied, honestly curious.
“I don’t know,” the redhead admitted. “I… I don’t want you to think I’m hiding things from you. It’s just that the stories that left scars are harder to talk about. I also don’t want you to think I’m dumping all of my baggage on you.”
Lena didn’t say anything immediately, she knew what she wanted to say, but was less certain how to say it. “I know you must have plenty of… unhappy memories,” she began speaking slowly, choosing her words carefully, “and no one enjoys reliving things they would rather forget. I don’t feel the need to dredge up those memories. Sometimes, like just now, something brings the memories back to you, and sometimes you choose to share them with me, and when you share I listen.
“The longer we’re together the more often you share those times with me. I think, or at least I hope, the same is true with me talking about my family. So, when you choose to share, that’s more than enough for me.”
“Are you sure? Really?” her girlfriend asked.
“Would I lie to you?” Lena asked back, part of her always seeking reassurance or approval.
“No. I know you wouldn’t,” Alex said, twisting to wrap her arms around Lena. “I trust you, Lena. I love you, too.”
“And I you,” Lena smiled, soaking up the embrace.