We met in a concrete bunker as mortar shells exploded all around us. Looking back on it now, I should’ve seen the signs. A relationship that starts with such a high level of adrenaline is sure to flame out as spectacularly as it started. But, I was a fool and fell head over heels.

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Idiot, right?

That fateful night, as we feared for our lives, we passed the time discussing movies, pop culture, and even literature. I found a kindred spirit with a love for Poe, and I hate to say it, but she found a way to consume my thoughts, as well as my heart.

For the rest of the deployment, we were inseparable. It didn’t take long for the rumors to start. It didn’t matter. We were both legally separated from our significant others at the time and didn’t care if people were jealous of what we found.

You see, deployed service members are notorious for stepping out on their spouses, so the bottom line is, even if we were cheating or if we were dating, the rumors would have still happened. Let them talk, I would tell myself every time my blue eyes locked with hers.

At the end of our nine-month tour, I figured things would end. We both lived in different parts of the United States and faced separations and eventual divorces at home. We stayed in touch, and I did my best to swallow the feelings I had developed for her while deployed.

I tried to keep things platonic until one morning when she called me. She was crying, and I begged her to tell me what happened.

She said she couldn’t live like this. She loved me and needed to be with me.

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