Alan felt guilty for leaving Jake behind, but he didn't have any other choice. Just call her...

He walked down the shoe polished floor of the mess hall, and through the doors to the hallway. His boots in step to the drills that had been pounded into his head since basic training.

He placed his hand into his shirt, and pulled out a locket. It's shine pointed toward being gold, but Alan knew that it was really just for show. It was just a piece of bronze with cheap gold paint that would peel each time he handled it roughly. He placed his fingers on the outside edge and slipped his fingernail into the opened side. The hinges squeaked as he opened it.

Inside there was the picture of a woman. Her hair flowed long and dark, like that of a queen. And her shoulders laid relaxed at her sides. But, the most beautiful thing was her smile. Even from just a picture, Alan could feel her sweet soul. "I miss you baby..."

He shoved the locket back down into his shirt, and proceeded to the large doors that loomed over the entire hallway. With a forceful push, the doors opened and released him to the outside world. The military camp was about as large as a college campus, but to Alan, it was just a fish tank.

He shoved his hand in his pocket, and fished out a calling card, and his cell phone. To have both items on duty was strictly prohibited.

The breeze from the world outside, the world beyond this base, always reminded him of home. The scent of salt and brine the wind brought with it. It was just like the time she and he used to go to the beach when they first met.

His calling card. The only way for him to get in contact with her. The only thing that was capable of allowing him to hear her voice. That voice that was like honey to his ears. Sweet, and deep and rich. He never actually heard her voice, only tasted it. Her words on the tip of his tongue, and the taste of her lips each time they kissed, blueberry, his favorite.

Alan ran his fingers across the laminated letters bulging from the card. All he had to do was dial "812", and then her home number, their home number, and the sweet taste of her voice would be right on his tongue. He wanted that taste so badly...

"I want, to talk with you..."

Before he was drafted into the war effort, before shoe shining and military drills were important, before he had to spend his time polishing boots, he and her were engaged. When Alan bent down on one knee and asked her to marry him, she cried. Harder than anyone he had seen before and then she said "yes".

The wedding was perfect, roses and white dresses and ribbons that were every shade of pink and red and green spanned every inch of the hall. Flowers and brides maids in pink were lined and waiting. His best man stood by Alan's side, and then...

There came the bride. Her dress the color of vanilla frosting. Her arm wrapped around her father's like she was a corsage. Her face was veiled under a white cloth, but Alan could still see her smile. That smile could of warmed a thousand lighthouses. She walked up to him, Alan squinted, for fear of being blinded by her beauty.

"You may kiss the bride" He removed the veil from her face. Her cheeks, her eyes, her lashes, everything was perfect. She was the most beautiful creature Alan had ever laid eyes on.

He leaned in, gently, his lips pressing against hers in perfect sync. He could taste it. That sweet honey taste that seemed to be flavored in everything she did and everything she was.

"How long has it been?" When he left for the war she was pregnant. About six months in. Her body had grown larger but she still glowed with a honey light that made her beautiful. It made Alan proud. His wife was carrying the life of their child. A new life, a new family. As he laid with her that night, he kissed her on the cheek and promised. "I'll be there for you."

But, it was a promise he couldn't keep. A few weeks later a war had broken out, and all men were drafted.

"A draft?" She asked him, her voice seemed small. Alan could tell the pregnancy was taking a lot out of her.

"Yes, draft." He grabbed her hands into his. Even with the pregnancy, her hands were still so small and delicate, Alan was afraid he'd crush them. She never spoke to him in a manner of regret, or resentment. She understood, she always understood.

"I love you..." She reached into her pocket and pulled out a locket. It shined like gold, but they both knew better, it was only bronze painted that color.

"I put a picture of me here, so you don't forget about me, or us..." Then she handed him a calling card. "I don't know how far you're going, or when you'll be back," she reached down to her stomach and felt the life kicking inside of her, "in fact, this little guy will probably be born before you get back, but we'll keep in touch..."

"And what about the pregnancy?" Alan asked as he stuffed the card and locket into his pant pocket.

"It's alright, my brother will help me through it." And then he turned around and without looking back—because he knew she wouldn't want him to—Alan boarded the bus and left for basic training. The cold leather seats felt rough against his ass, and as he looked at head at the ever changing road that laid ahead of them, he felt a small blackness in his heart, and a sour taste in his mouth. The same places where honey and love used to reign supreme. But now, he wasn't so sure.

###

Basic training was a difficult venture, drills after drills. Generals who never learned how to use their inside voices, and men who were either dicks who flunked out of high school, suck ups or cry babies.

Alan made friends rather quickly, not the men from his own platoon, but from others. Like, Private Jake Selene. Jake was a bit of a loud soldier, always arguing with the commanding officers, always refusing to do as many push ups as the rest. And, even before he and Alan had been introduced to each other, Jake was always staring at him. As if he were some endangered animal in a zoo. Within weeks of their first meeting, Jake was already calling him "Al". But, he was a great guy non the less.

And then Alan met Private Alexander Thanatos, someone Jake called "Lex" he was the quite soldier. Everyday in the mess hall his hands would tremble every time someone walked past him. "It was just the chill" is all he'd say whenever either of them asked him about it.

To Alan, these two were like brothers. Every day in the mess hall, they'd sit together and talk of the war, and of home, and each others interests, and each other's disinterest, anything that could drown out the constant noise of the mess hall.

"So, any of you guys have anyone waiting at home?" Alan asked one night while other soldiers murmured about how crappy the food tasted. Alan could agree, that stuff had all the flavor of a cardboard box.

"Nah," Jake replied "I've got a mom, but she kicked me out years ago. Aside from my dirty apartment I don't have much in the way of that." Jake took a sip from his drink. Milk mixed with honey. His own little recipe he had made a few months back. Alan wanted nothing more than to have a taste, just one small sip...

"How 'bout you Lex?" Al asked. Lex was never much of a talker, but today hell must of frozen over because he opened his mouth and,

"Well, I've got my granddad waitin' for me down in Florida. He..." Lex's fingers begun to tremble again. Alan could see his hands tense and strain with each word he said. "He says he's...he's really proud of me." He looked away, just as he always did.

"Me," Alan began "I've got a wife back at home, she's 'bout to have that baby anytime now." Alan looked to the ceiling, a smile growing from his lips at the very thought of that word. Baby.

###

He wanted to call her more than anything, he wanted to know how the baby was doing. He needed her voice like the land needed water. Alan rubbed his fingers against the bulging numbers of the card one last time before taking out his cell and dialing the numbers.

"812-345-123-6547" He placed it up to his ears as the phone began ringing. Each ring, each second brought her voice closer and closer to him.

Ring...and what about the baby? Of course it's been born by now. Was it a boy? Was it a girl? Did he have his eyes? Did she have her mother's honey smile?

Ring...Was he healthy? Did she get fussy a lot? Did he play together with his mom? The moon was just rising overhead, it's light setting everything aglow.

Ring...

"Hello." It was her, Alan's heart nearly leap from his chest and into the sky.

But, her voice. It was different.

It's unique honey sound now had an heir of...bitterness.

"Hey, Janet...it's been a while. How have you been? How's the kid? Is our baby healthy?" Alan was starved for information, he wanted to know everything about the past few months. A smile grew on his face, anticipating stories of crawling and walks in a stroller. Dinners of string beans and squashed carrots. Bath times in a sink, and bed time in a crib.

"Alan...listen..." Her voice was so weak. But that was just because of the pregnancy. Yeah, that had to be it. Alan could hear the sounds of the other cadets marching off into the field for drills.

"Your still weak from the pregnancy? That's alright, I'll cal back later..."

"Alan wait, it's about the baby...I...I..."

"Janet, it's alright..." Alan could feel his heart pounding, racing like a horse. The baby? What about the baby? Was it sick? Was it still in the hospital? What...

"I had a miscarriage"

Alan could feel his heart's pace slow to a soft beat. Each thump echoing that word. Thump. Miscarriage. Thump. Miscarriage. Thump.

"Baby, I'm sorry." Her voice over the phone became muffled by sobs. Her voice melted away with each breath she took. "I've been feeling horrible, not knowing how to tell you..." Her voice became louder, it was like she was in pain. A pain much harder to bear than even child birth.

"Janet..." Alan wanted to console her, he wanted to wrap his arms around her body and tell her that everything was going to be fine. But, even he didn't believe that himself, even he didn't believe the hopeful thoughts and quotes and "never say die" attitude that was drilled into his skull.

"Janet, I..." But, he couldn't finish. Nor did he want to. The sounds of the drills and horns and "yes sirs" were completely drowned out in Alan's ears. To him, all that was heard were the sounds of a wife's tears, and the echoes of a heartbeat that never existed.

Thump. Miscarriage. Thump. Miscarriage...