It had been ages, eons in fact since I had last tried to draw. My nephew, Coulter, could be incredibly persuasive.
He had those little green soldiers that my brother and I had played with as kids, set out on the bench in front of him, his brow was lined and he was biting his lip in concentration.
I smiled at his efforts. He had decided that we would have a contest to see who had the better drawing, though I already knew he would win. My artistic skills might as well have been non-existent. Anything to keep him occupied while his parents were at their prenatal Doctors appointment across the street.
“Make sure yours has soldiers in it, Uncle Jack. You should draw them really good since you were a soldier.” He beamed as if it were the coolest thing. If only he knew.
My dog tags that hung around my neck caught a breeze and jingled against each other. I grabbed them and stuffed them down my skirt. I looked back down at my drawing and returned to drawing stick figure soldiers with guns in their hands and packs on their backs. I mindlessly drew lines exploding from the mouths of the guns and more stick figures with turbans on their heads.
Something slammed and I jerked and ducked into cover, dragging Coulter with me. I broke out in a sweat and fought hard to keep my head, groping for a weapon on my belt that wasn’t there. My heart was pounding so hard and my vision blurring around the edges with the force of the adrenaline shooting through my veins.
“Jack! Dude, what the?”
I blinked hard as a hand came towards Coulter and I fought it off.
“Ow! Jack! Knock it off, buddy. Let go of Coulter.” The yelling somehow made it past the thunderstorm happening between my ears.
A softer voice cut its way through the mayhem of gunshots and shouts that echoed through my head. “Jack, it’s going to be okay. Take a deep breath.”
I tried to obey, but my lungs felt frozen.
“In and out Jack.” It was my brothers voice. “Your doing fine, buddy. You can let go of Coulter now, nothing’s going to happen.
My vision cleared with the deep breaths I was dragging through my airways. I realized that I was tightly holding a frozen Coulter under my arm and laying on the ground in a cover position behind the rock bench as if trying to remain undercover in a firefight. I let go of him quickly and winced at the wide-eyed, frightened look that he wore. My heart broke over the fact that I had caused him fear, even as my own body was dripping sweat, in the throes of a panic attack.
They all stared at me, my brother with a grip around his son pulling Coulter to his side and dusting him off. I gulped. The fear in my brother’s eyes was just as devastating as Coulter’s and the repercussions of the realization that it would be hard for them to trust me with Coulter again. After this episode.
Trembling, I stood and dusted myself off. I winced when a hand touched my shoulder. It was Angie, my sister-in-law. With one hand on her swollen belly, she rubbed small, rhythmic circles into my tense shoulder. Her eyes were brimming with understanding. All I wanted to do was run far away before I hurt any of them again.
“Guess what, Jack?” her voice was gentle, calm and collected. My muscles eased minutely as she drew me slowly away from the spot behind the bench.
“What?” My voice sounded hoarse, even to my own ears. She smiled and rubbed a bit harder. “We found out it’s a boy, and we want to name him Jack.”
My heart burst. I didn’t deserve it.
This one spilled out. PTSD is such a real thing. This really makes me want to write a book from this prompt.
By God’s Grace,