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His embrace… a fortress…




Her bumper sticker is peeling.  The one that says 'I (heart) my Marine!'  It's been months, but it's still true, so she keeps it, letting it peel and fade in the weather like a scab.  Like a scar.


The sticker is hers, the truck is his.  Nevermind that all the paperwork is now in her name.  Nevermind he hasn't driven it in a year or more.  She drives it to work, and pumps the high-priced gas, and pays to have the summer tires swapped for the snows.  But it's his truck.


The wall above the bed becomes his shrine.  She papers it with photos.  His high school senior photo.  Their prom photos.  Photos of him with his brother, his sisters, his dogs.  Photos of him hugging his mother, laughing with his father.  Photos of the two of them hiking, swimming, lounging on the couch, playing touch football with their friends.  Pictures from summer parties, Fourth of July, and Halloween -- him with his face painted white and black, her in form-fitting black and temporary tatoos toting his paintball pistols.  Photos from Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Photos of him and his brother Marines in the desert.


Their wedding photos.


The photo of him in his dress blues has a silver frame and a place of honor in the kitchen.  His clean jaw and square shoulders and serious eyes that stare – not at the camera, but out of frame; the red piping on his jacket set off by the backdrop of flags.


She carries that picture with her, a small copy tucked in her wallet behind clear plastic.  He looks too perfect in that picture.  Too much like their posters, and not enough like she remembers him.  But he looks so powerful and proud; and because she is proud of him, she carries that photo.


She wears his clothes.  His military surplus jacket, though it is much to big for her, makes her feel safe.  He bought it years ago, before he ever thought about joining up.  It is battered and faded and soft, going ragged at the edges.  She wears his tshirts to bed, his sweats if it's cold.  She breathes the fading scent of him.  She sleeps on his side of the bed.  


She curls into the hollow where he used to be, the echo of him.  She falls asleep aching for his presence and warmth and the security of his powerful embrace.


She dreams of his warm strength, his arms around her, his laugh, his smile, his voice.  His kiss.  She dreams of running her fingers over his 'jarhead' haircut, the prickle of his short-cropped hair.  It made him look younger somehow; but also stronger.


She wears his dogtags.  Constantly, day and night, even in the shower, his name, rank, numbers, blood type, cover her heart with a little scrap of punched metal.  And with the tags, his ring.


Their wedding rings are silver.  A simple flat band, inscribed inside "Devotion."  He added 'Semper Fidelis' to his own.  It was more to him than just the Marines' motto.  It extended to her.  She embodies all he stood to defend.  Fidelity and devotion.


Always loyal.
"Always."



Who is it – that never let you down?

His embrace... a fortress.
it fuels me, and places
a skeleton of trust,
right beneath us.
Bone by bone.
Stone by stone.

If you ask yourself, now
patiently
and carefully
who is it – who is it?
Who is it, that never let you down?

Bjork - Who Is It?

expanding on a theme.
Related: RequiemForASoldier...
RequiemContinued...


:iconthewrittenrevolution:
is the emotional connection/commitment believeable, or overblown?
is her Marine coming home? what makes you think so/not?
Add a Comment:
 
:iconforeveryoursmarine:
ForeverYoursMarine Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2011
ABSOLUTELY PERFECT!! You did this so well. I don't know about other women, but it certainly discribes my feelings and almost everthing I do when my Marine isn't here with me. Awesome job!!!
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
:)

Thanks very much for reading. I'm glad it struck truth for you!
I write this stuff for our warriors and their families. :iconusmcsaluteplz:
Reply
:iconforeveryoursmarine:
ForeverYoursMarine Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2011
Definately! Thanks for writing it!
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Any time. :bow:
Reply
:iconcyanideandcake:
CyanideAndCake Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Wonderful depiction of her love for him. An enjoyed read.
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
thanks very much for taking time to read and comment. :)
Reply
:icontheodoria:
Theodoria Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Okay, that's it. . . We can't be friends anymore. You're too good. XD
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
awww... ;p well that's disappointing.

thanks for reading! :)
Reply
:icontheodoria:
Theodoria Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
:P

No problemo for the read or the fav. Stop being so epic and we'll stop fighting. xD
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
fighting? what? who's fighting?! :giggle:
Reply
:icontheodoria:
Theodoria Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Lol. Well, fine, I guess we're not fighting. && I suppose, we can still be friends. . . Even though you are epic. o.O
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
i'd like that. :)
Reply
:iconfreakomaniacadisical:
Freakomaniacadisical Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2010
Great Work :D

Here, check:
Estranged [link]
Isolated Emotions [link]
Indeterminate Her [link]
Disremembrance [link]
Draw A Blank World [link]
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
danke. :)
Reply
:iconsirenseranade11:
sirenseranade11 Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2010
Oh jesus, you make me ache. I can't even bring myself to critique it. Gorgeous.
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
:) thanks much 4 the :+fav:!

if you get to a point where you can, any feedback you can share would be a great help.
Reply
:icondailylitdeviations:
DailyLitDeviations Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2010
Your wonderful literary work has been chosen to be featured by DLD (Daily Literature Deviations) in a news article that can be found here [link]
Be sure to check out the other artists featured and show your support by :+fav:ing the News Article.

Keep writing and keep creating.
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
awww, you guys... :)
thank you so much! :w00t: this really made my day!
Reply
:iconxilamne:
xilamne Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2010
:iconthewrittenrevolution:

I enjoyed reading this. There's a lot of beautiful imagery and emotion here. At first, I thought the marine had recently died with the 'shrine' over their bed. On conclusion though, it seems wrong to kill him off with the way this work ends. The last couple lines really make it feel wrong for him to die.
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
is the death of a devoted protector ever 'right'?

this is very much a work in progress. certainly a theme i will revisit, and often. so there is room for all manner of permutations and changes. your feedback helps me explore new options!

thanks very much for sharing your thoughts and reaction. :)
Reply
:iconthe-music-of-hands:
The-music-of-hands Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2010  Student Photographer
:iconthewrittenrevolution:

Heartwrenching and beautiful. It's a bit rough on some sections, but the smoothness of the others makes it so much better.

I say, it doesn't matter if he comes home or not, because in her mind, he's been gone since the say he joined. But, alas, that is just my perspective, of course.

The connection that she puts between herself and her husband is considerably realistic, and it's done with that emotional tang that every reader loves.
I would say though, that it leads to him passing away, because of her holding his dog tags and his ring. The colorful sorrow that she seems to be going through hints to being connected to a death.
So it's not really a trick ending, more of a subtle ending that vaguely suggest his passing away.

Wonderfully done. I really enjoyed reading this.

~
TMoh
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
i find it interesting that you believe she's counted him 'lost' since he joined. definitely a point to explore further. :)

which sections do you find rough? suggestions to improve flow/clarity?

thnx very much for your thoughtful comments and support! :)
Reply
:iconthe-music-of-hands:
The-music-of-hands Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2010  Student Photographer
Ah, pardoning my typo in my previous comment --I am briefly ashamed-- This section was a bit choppy:

The photo of him in his dress blues has a silver frame and a place of honor in the kitchen. His clean jaw and square shoulders and serious eyes that stare – not at the camera, but out of frame; the red piping on his jacket set off by the backdrop of flags.

It describes rather well, but I did have a hard time smoothing everything out. It was a bit too short, like it had ben cut off from the rest of everything else.
But that is solely my opinion, and i don't mean to offend in any way possible. :)
I did enjoy reading this though, and I look forward to reading more of your work.
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
i am not offended at all. ;) i appreciate your honesty. I'm always looking for ways to improve my writing, and i can't do that unless folks tell me what's not working! ;p

thnx much!
Reply
:iconthe-music-of-hands:
The-music-of-hands Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2010  Student Photographer
My goodness. I come with many typo's today...
anyway, thank you for accepting my comment. :3
Reply
:iconitsaki:
itsaki Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
I can honestly tell you that few things make me cry, and this almost did. It's one of those truly powerful and heart-wrenching stories, I absolutely love it. But I must ask, is it true? Either way, it is an amazing piece, I love it.
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
i hope that the spirit of this work is true and authentic; but the details are of my own imagining.

thnx very much for sharing your emotional response, your support and comments. :)
thnx 4 collecting! :D
Reply
:iconpunkangel41:
punkangel41 Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2010
It sounds like he has died but the portrayl of her devotion towards him is perfect. I can see someone doing that especially if they died and they've been together for so long by the sound of it.
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
something to explore for sure, the duration of their relationship/marriage. i haven't decided/figured out how old they are when this vignette takes place.

thnx much for the feedback and support. :)
Reply
:iconpunkangel41:
punkangel41 Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2010
your welcome that's what we are all here for :D :glomp:
Reply
:iconmychem-totheend:
mychem-totheend Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2010
beautiful! the emotion comes through perfectly. its clear that he has died...
beautifully written. i like the end especially.
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
what lines/passages make it clear to you that he has died?

thanks very much for your support and comment. :)
and thanks 4 collecting! :wave:
Reply
:iconmychem-totheend:
mychem-totheend Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2010
"It's been months, but it's still true, so she keeps it, letting it peel and fade in the weather like a scab. Like a scar."

"Nevermind he hasn't driven it in a year or more. She drives it to work, and pumps the high-priced gas, and pays to have the summer tires swapped for the snows. But it's his truck."

"The wall above the bed becomes his shrine."

"She wears his dogtags. Constantly, day and night, even in the shower, his name, rank, numbers, blood type, cover her heart with a little scrap of punched metal. And with the tags, his ring."

Little pieces to the puzzle, but they fit together and make it pretty clear. ^_^
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
all right, thnx 4 the point-by-point. ;)
i may be reworking this in the future, so all the nitty-gritty really helps!
Reply
:iconmychem-totheend:
mychem-totheend Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2010
no problem ^_^
Reply
:iconmsklystron:
msklystron Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
This is very well written. The first paragraph caught and held my attention. As others have noted, the dog tags and wedding ring reveal that the marine was killed. Details like the bumper sticker/ scab and the freyed cuffs of the jacket he left behind tell me that his wife was scarred by his loss. She worships him with a little shrine, which is another detail you provide. Her loyalty is strong. Even though her husband died perhaps more than a year ago (the faded bumper sticker and freyed cuffs) she lives and sleeps alone. It's tough to say whether the strength she finds in wearing his things, his photo, her shrine and memories of his embrace, may be just temporary to get her through the first year or so or a lifetime of grief. Would moving on seem disloyal to her in future? Anyway this is something you have left for the reader to ponder.
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
many service members have duplicate tags punched for their loved ones; but the point is still valid. I also toyed with the idea of him leaving the ring as a kind of "talisman" for her, in a "I will be back for this" scenario. but that's where your feedback helps me ;) I may do a rewrite which is not so bleak.

I've recently finished reading Final Salute which demonstrates just how deep and lasting these relationships can be, even years after the funerals. so if he's not coming back, it's not yet clear to me if my fictional Marine wife will move on, or feel caught in her commitment. any further thoughts on this?

thnx very much 4 your thoughful comments. this is a great help. :)
Reply
:iconmsklystron:
msklystron Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
You're welcome!

If you want to leave it open-ended you could leave out the tags and ring. This would show the loyalty whether the woman was a waiting for his return or widowed.

Having dated a widower, I know that sometimes the lost spouse can be almost deified as in your story. Needless to say there wasn't a second date. Besides he was two feet taller than I am and couldn't hear half of what I was saying.:)

What's important is what the reader thinks. You left no hint that she might move on, such as a new dress or a new tube of lipstick or a book of matches from a local pub. However, you also don't tell the reader when her husband was killed, which leaves things open to interpretation. It might have been a few months ago or a few years. If the former it's impossible to know if she'd move on, if the latter, then she's less likely to look for someone new. Leaving the story where you did lets the reader think about the woman and decide for themselves how she will carry on.
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:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
the original version mentioned the ring, but as if he were still wearing it. i may go back to that.
i like the tags, and plan to keep them on her. but maybe a duplicate pair.

i do want to keep it as open as possible, but i think I've committed myself to the eventuality of his death. the question is weather this vignette will thake place before or after.

i really appreciate all your thoughtful feedback. this fuels the creative machine! ;)
Reply
:iconmsklystron:
msklystron Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
A thought just occurred to me. I don't happen to know any military wives, but it's different than being a widow in the ordinary sense. The wife of a soldier has to deal with a husband who is far away for long periods and may never return. There must be a sense of unreality in having to live with this. If military wives do in fact build shrines, and otherwise act as if their husband was already gone for good, it's almost as if these rituals are a way of preparing for him to die in action. Her subconcious tells her that if she acts like he's gone, she'll know what to do if it really happens. I don't know how this could help you. Just thought I'd share.:) Maybe the ambiguity is a good thing.

Props and objects are important details to get right (i.e. the way you want them to be) in a story. They can be symbols (think Lord of the Rings) sometimes or just what they appear to be or a combination of both. Props or objects used as symbols often take on more importance in a story. I guess what you might want to decide is are the rings more than rings? Symbols of loyalty, perhaps? Or 'til death do us part?
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:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
that's a very intriguing concept. the military families are forewarned, so to speak. they accept the possiblity of their loved one being killed. they have to. and how/when they prepare for it is very important. one thing i got out of Final Salute was the absolute denial that some of the families go through after the notification. They are convinced there has been a mistake, that it couldn't possibly be true. intellectualy i can understand this as a reaction to the trauma, but on some level i feel that they ought to have been prepared. it is always a risk for any warrior. some come home, many do not.

i'm getting the impression from my characters that their commitment may almost transcend death... and the rings and inscriptions are very symbolic of that.

thanks much for your time and deep thoughts! ;)
Reply
:iconmsklystron:
msklystron Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
I'm pleased to be of help. Besides all of these thoughts about widows have got me to thinking about expectations, devotion, grief... It reminds me of the old woman in 100 Years of Solitude who made her own funeral shroud. Anyway, you may have inspired me to write a story or create a character of my own.

I think denial (a normal initial response to the death of a loved one) would tend to be more pronounced when the death occurs suddenly and/or very far away. Also, in war, bodies can be so badly damaged that mistaken identity could occur (at least in the minds of those grieving).
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
this is very true. it is definitely something i shall explore in further installments. ;p

i look forward to perusing any writings you may have been inspired to create! :D

cheers! :ahoy:
Reply
(1 Reply)
:icon54viruses:
54viruses Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2010
She's wearing his dogtags so he's probably not coming home.

Good story with good presentation.
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
many service members have duplicate tags punched for their loved ones, but your point is still valid. I also toyed with the idea of him leaving the ring as a kind of "talisman" for her, in a "I will be back for this" scenario. this is very much a work in progress. I may re-draft with a less bleak outlook in response to these comments.

thnx much 4 your support and feedback! :)
Reply
:iconavocado-ago-go:
Avocado-AGO-GO Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
:iconthewrittenrevolution:

I felt the connection was realistic. He's been away a long time, so she misses him and since he's at war (or just duty), she'd be worried for him alot.

That said, I didn't get the impression he was coming back. It felt more like he'd recently died, so her connection was stronger than usual, if that makes sense. For starters, how would she have his dogtags or ring? Unless they get more than one set, but I find it strange he would leave behind his ring if they're so devoted.

I liked the piece very much! I liked the tone it set and stuck to, and the descriptions!
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
i'm glad for that, i thought maybe i was going a little overboard with the SemperFi bit... ;)
but I've recently finished reading Final Salute which illustrates just how deep the devotion runs in many military families.

many service members have duplicate tags punched for their loved ones; but the point is still valid. I also toyed with the idea of him leaving the ring as a kind of "talisman" for her, in a "I will be back for this" scenario. thoughts on this?

thnx very much 4 your feedback and support! :)
Reply
:iconavocado-ago-go:
Avocado-AGO-GO Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
I guess he COULD leave it behind for that reason, but I personally figure if you really, REALLY miss the person you're married to, you'll want the ring... but that's just me. XD

I'm glad I could be of help!
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
still playing around with this. the original version mentioned the ring as if he were still wearing it. i think i'm committed to the eventuality of his death, but i haven't yet figured out if this vignette takes place before or after... ;p

thnx again. bouncing these ideas off you folks really helps!
Reply
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