tagRomanceFinding My Way Home Ch. 01

Finding My Way Home Ch. 01


This is the story of a returning injured soldier to a small town in Illinois. There is no sex in the first part, just the characters rediscovering themselves. The story itself is less about the sex and more about the relationships.

Chapter 1. Finding my way back home...

15 September 2009

I was recovering from my second shoulder surgery and was still trying to get back to sleep after a bad dream when a face and a person popped into my head. Lily Johnson. I don't know what made me think of her all these years later. Maybe it was just being back home with my mother in the small town in Illinois where I grew up, but it made me think back to the time when I was in high school and I was enchanted by Lily. Lily was about 5' 5" and had dark hair over pale skin, just like her mother. I remember that she and her mother had both had nice curves, but her mother was slimmer with a nice figure, pretty face, and those same deep blue eyes. Lily was still a little chubby, but the most beautiful girl I knew. Her eyes shined whenever she looked at me and smiled. I remember telling my friends that they both had 1000 watt smiles. They had straight white teeth and gorgeous full lips. When they smiled it looked so genuine that you couldn't help but smile yourself. I just knew that Lily was going to turn out like her mother, happy, fussing over her children, and enjoying life in general. These memories were nostalgic, harkened back to simple, easy times, and were much better than the dreams I had been having. The one about the ambush in Afghanistan that got me shot and led, eventually, to these two surgeries.

My mother, Janet, had been diagnosed with bladder cancer, which is very treatable when caught early, so I hoped that things would go well. But she did need help and my father had disappeared when I was 10, so it was up to me to provide the care she required.

I finally fell back to sleep, especially with the painkillers they were giving me. I thought about the Army and how I had loved that family when I finally drifted off.

The bullets were pinging and thudding around me, my shoulder was on fire. There were people shouting directions and my platoon sergeant was yelling and pointing something out to me. I nodded. We got up and started to circle to the left to outflank the enemy. We were circling and firing while the rest of the platoon fixed the enemy in place with their fire. We were coming around to their left flank and I was focusing on one man with an RPG...

I woke with a start, the dream slowly fading - again. I thought I could smell the cordite and blood, mixed with the dust and the sweat. I could just make out the fading faces of the 7 dead young men in my platoon. I remembered the attack, being shot, and then counterattacking with my platoon sergeant. As the dream faded, the reality of pulling out each man's death letter and sending it to their families cast a pall over what was a bright beautiful day outside. I tried to go back to sleep -- and not dream.

Chapter 2. Lily.

16 September 2009

This small town had not changed much in the time that I had been gone. It had two gas stations, one at each end of town, one large grocery store, several small independent stores, a hardware store, a bank, a couple independent restaurants, three chain restaurants (Pizza Hut, McDonald's, and Subway) and the obligatory set of taverns that all the small towns in southern Illinois had. There was one main street where the speed limit was 25. 25! I couldn't stand to go 25 anymore. This small place had a decent school system with an elementary school, middle school, and high school that served the surrounding area. There was not much there and many younger people seemed to leave and only come back to visit, which was exactly what I had had in mind when I left in 2001.

The houses in the few blocks right around the older section of town were typical 1930s style, two-story, with large front porches. They surrounded the main small square with the police station and the post office and several blocks in either direction. The area that came along in the late '60s early '70s was belted around the older section and consisted of mostly three and four bedroom ramblers. This was the type my mother had. There were some brand new homes, mostly built within the last five years, on the northern and western outskirts that were more modern two-story or split-level family homes. This recent growth must mean that things are looking up for the town.

It was on this day that I ran into Lily again. I had just dropped my mother off at the hospital, which was in the next town over from where we lived, and made my way into a small café situated next to the medical complex. It was similar to a Denny's in the seating arrangement with a counter in the middle wrapped around the kitchen and seating around the outside along the windows. The booths were red and white checkered and the tables had matching tablecloths. I sat down in a booth on the medical complex side and a cute little waitress brought me a glass of water and the menu. She left me to look at the menu and I perused it, looking for something filling, but not too bad for me. I had at least learned to eat better in the last few years.

I looked up from my menu for my waitress when I saw Lily. To say I was shocked would have been an understatement, but I recovered before she saw me. She was dressed in a large apron that was covered with stains as if she had been cooking. She had just come from the back and was telling a couple of the waitresses something when she glanced in my direction and saw me staring. She smiled a tired, wan smile and made her way over to me. I couldn't help but notice that her 1000 watt smile had dimmed to the 100 watt range. She had also slimmed down to where she was almost a clone of her mother when I had last seen her. She was slim, trim, and downright beautiful.

"Jon. How are you?" It seemed like a perfunctory question.

I looked into those blue eyes and they were the same gorgeous color. I could see that the teeth and lips and cheekbones were the same. But there seemed to be an absence of the fire and energy that had made her and these attributes so damned irresistible when I was in high school. "Lily, it's so good to see you." I started to get up, but it's not easy with an arm still in a sling, so she leaned over and gave me a peck on the cheek and a socially acceptable hug.

"You look pretty good, Jon. I read about you in the paper. How's the shoulder?"

I looked down sheepishly. The Army had something they called a Hometown News Release that they sent to a soldier's home town newspaper to tell everyone what great things the soldier had done when a medal was awarded or a school graduation occurred. Unfortunately, for most soldiers it was embarrassing and a little disconcerting. "Thanks. I'm fine. How are you? I haven't seen you since you graduated." I changed the subject.

She smiled that tired smile again. "Pretty well." She looked back toward the front of the café and I could tell she didn't want to stick around. "I'm working, so I need to get back. See you later?" Her body was positioned like she was ready to leave, but something in her posture seemed to be telling me to please say yes, that I would see her later.

"Sure." I said it with as much confidence as I could. "I'm staying with my mother for a while. What about you? Are you living around here?"

She stopped her turning and looked at me for a moment. She turned back to me. "Yes, I am, why?" She asked the question, but it seemed that she knew and hoped that I would ask her out.

"I thought we might get together and catch up on what's happening with all the people we knew since graduation."

Then she looked around the place and finally pulled out a pen and wrote her number on a corner of my paper placemat. "Here's my number. Call me and we can do that. I'll even show you around this thriving metropolis." She put a heavy accent and sarcasm on the last two words, and although not really bitter, they sounded at least a little sad.

"Okay, I'll call you." I assured her that I would definitely call, but she barely acknowledged it and went immediately back to work. She must be working in the kitchen because she went into the back and I didn't see her again while eating. I wondered about that. When I left she had been going to school at Eastern Illinois and I thought she would have graduated from college. Why then was she working here?

I stayed there for about an hour while I ate and tried to read a book before heading back to the hospital. The café was certainly a more pleasant place to pass the time. I hated hospital waiting areas and I had become even more turned off by them after suffering in them while waiting for appointments for my own injury.

I also thought about Lily. I had had several relationships during the past 9 years since I last saw her, but there was still something about the way my heart jumped and my pulse raced when I saw her. I just wasn't sure it was anything more than a passing fancy... or my growing horniness. I hadn't been laid since I had been deployed to Afghanistan over a year ago and the surgeries and pain pills had dulled the desire... until now.

I reminisced about the spring of 2000 when I was just starting to learn what it was like to be a man. I was a junior in high school working on my application to West Point, which would soon take me on a sobering and maturing ride. Unfortunately, at that time in my life I was still pretty naive about women and I was infatuated with a senior who would graduate in just a couple of months. A few of my friends kept saying she was cute, but wasn't up to speed with their definition of a real "babe". Her cheeks were a little chubby and she had a few more pounds than the cheerleader types that my buddies were falling all over. The problem was that none of that mattered whenever I stared into her eyes. Lily was excellent in English, but not in math and I was helping her thru the introductory calculus class. It gave me a chance to look into those eyes, searing blue, deep and mysterious, the ones that I felt myself falling into every time we met for my tutoring. She was still pretty, but not svelte enough for my friends. Never mind that none of them were dating a "babe", they just aspired to be one of the few who did and would make fun of anyone who didn't. But me -- I just couldn't get past the way I felt around Lily. She was very nice to me and didn't ignore me in the halls like some of the other popular girls who thought that anyone a class behind them in school was unworthy of attention. Unfortunately, Lily was still a senior with the popular crowd and I was not. I played sports and was a straight "A" student, but was only a junior. Lily hung out with the big jock seniors, especially her boyfriend, a running back who thought he was put on earth to be worshipped by the common people. So I worshipped Lily unbeknownst to her.

I remembered one time that we met at her house to study. We sat down at the dining room table and her mother buzzed around us. She was getting dinner ready and kept interrupting us, asking us if we needed anything, keeping our water glasses full. She was the sort of mother that would have made a perfect housewife representative on TV. I liked her energy and intensity and when I looked at her, I was impressed. She was in great shape.

Anyway, on this day we were studying and as I was discussing something, Lily decided that she needed to get something out of her backpack. It was on the floor next to her chair, and instead of picking up the backpack, she turned and leaned over to get something out of it. The top she was wearing was too short to stay tucked in and it pulled out of her skirt. I saw a nice expanse of creamy white skin between her blouse and skirt. She also had to part her legs a little as she turned a bit and leaned over to maintain her balance. Since I was sitting around the corner of the table and she was not pushed up against it, I had this brief moment of seeing her uncovered and beautiful thighs almost to her panties. I almost panicked when I realized I was getting an erection, but I was fortunately seated under the table enough to hide it. It was this brief moment that fueled my masturbatory fantasies for the next few weeks. I had never seen her in a bathing suit, so this was my most unrestricted view of her body. It stuck with me for a long time.

Lily never came to know how I felt about her; at least she never acknowledged my fawning ways when I was tutoring her. As I look back at it now, I don't know how she didn't see it. I guess I was just lucky that she didn't call me on it and embarrass me so much that I was uncomfortable around her. In any case, she graduated and I lost track of her and I got accepted to West Point and graduated. I left the dust of that small town behind me and went on a trek that opened up my personality, made me more confident and secure, gave me a job, and fulfilled me like nothing else. Being accepted to that school made me realize how lucky I was to have the gifts of being good enough at academics and sports to be able to attend a prestigious university, get a good degree, and have a job afterwards.

The Army taught me a lot about people, personalities, motivations, and motivating them. It also bares your limitations like nothing else. You have no choice but to learn and grow. Mistakes are made, but you had better learn quickly. The young soldiers entrusted to you by the country, your commanders, and their parents expect you to provide them sound advice and leadership. And they deserve it. They, too, have volunteered to do something that many can't even consider. They have decided to serve their country and possibly give their life so that others can live and thrive. It's the most selfless act I can imagine. I've had many discussions with many people about this and while some disagree, I cannot see their side of the argument. I guess I'm just biased in thinking that these young men and women are better than most when they put the needs of their country before themselves.

I broke out of my reverie and went to the hospital to pick up my mother. She had been diagnosed very early and it was considered to be in Stage 1. They had first performed a 'Transurethral resection with fulguration'. This meant that they had performed surgery thru the urethra to remove some of the cancerous tissue, and then tried to destroy some of the rest of the bad tissue with an electric current. They told me that this was usually followed with some chemotherapy, which is what my mother was having done today. We had arrived early and she was going to be going home with me later in the afternoon. When I returned to the hospital the doctor discussed her situation with me and said that she was in good enough shape to be able to beat this back, take the chemo, and live a long life. She was only 50. I was thankful for that and I took her home. She was obviously not feeling well and immediately took something to relieve her nausea and went to bed.

I crashed on the couch for a little while, watching absolutely nothing on the TV for a while, and then went back to my book. I was in the middle of a chapter, my energy fading, my eyelids getting heavy when...

It was the spring of 2000 again. I was in Mrs. Tarkanian's English class, sitting in the third row, about four seats from the front. I looked to the fourth row, the front seat, and stared at the back of Lily Johnson's head. She had dark hair, almost black. She turned a little and I could see her beautiful glowing skin and those gorgeous blue eyes. It set her apart from everyone else in a way that I found mesmerizing. She turned all the way toward me, smiled, and I got up and walked toward her. Nobody paid heed to us as I walked right up and leaned over to kiss her. She lifted her face up and waited with pursed lips. I had wanted to do this for so long. As I leaned over she slowly faded and I tried to grab her. I wanted to tell her how I felt, how I longed to feel the touch of her smooth, creamy skin, but she vanished.

I woke up with a start, only vaguely aware of where I was. I had fallen asleep and my book was on my lap. I looked over at the clock and it was 7pm. I guess it's time to make something to eat. The dream was very real and in the dream Lily was back to being so alive and full of energy. I wondered about that. My entire senior year I had thought about her as I passed some of her favorite spots or I thought about what she was doing in college. But after heading off to West Point and being so busy I had not thought about her since I graduated from high school. And now I was dreaming about her. I wanted her to be the way she was back then; alive and glowing, her eyes that bright piercing blue and her smile back at 1000 watts. Hell, I realized, I still wanted her... period.

I checked on my mother and she was sleeping as well. I decided to make some pasta, which she always loved, and made some linguine with just butter and parmesan. I was finishing up when I heard my mother call out to me. I went to her bedroom.

"What's that I smell?"


She looked at me. "That actually sounds pretty good. It'll have to be light on the parmesan cheese or my stomach won't like me." She knew that my favorite style was just butter and parmesan.

"No problem. I didn't even put the parmesan on yet. I figured I would let you add it as you saw fit."

"Thanks, sweetie."

I went back to the kitchen and fixed her a plate and brought it to her on a tray. I knew she would be tired, so I had everything ready to go. I gave it to her and she looked at it.

"Well, I hope this goes well. After the first treatment, I didn't eat for a whole day."

I watched as she added some parmesan and then toyed with it. "Yes, but the doctor told me he backed off a little on this treatment, so you should feel better, faster."

She looked up at me. "I hope so." She took a first tentative bite. "Aren't you going to join me?"

"Sure." I hurried back to the kitchen and got another tray and loaded it up with a plate of linguine. When I arrived back in my mother's room she was eating very slowly and taking small bites. I wolfed mine down.

When we were done, she lay back down and said she was going to sleep for the night. I kissed her forehead, cleaned up the kitchen, and retreated to the den. I figured I'd channel surf for a while and read some more before turning in.

It was about 9pm when there was a knock on the door. I was surprised, because folks around this small town seldom bothered anyone this late.

When I opened the door I was even more surprised. It was Mrs. Johnson, Lily's mother.

"Hello, Mrs. Johnson! How are you?" I stood aside and let her enter the house as I greeted her. She looked almost the same, albeit some grey had shown up in her hair and she had laugh lines around her mouth and eyes. She was still attractive and had a great smile.

"Pretty good, thank you. How's your shoulder?" She nodded toward my left arm, which I had put back in the sling to take the weight off it after releasing it for a while during my cooking.

"Not bad. Nothing serious. Just needs some time to heal."

"Great." She looked around and I realized that we were still standing in the foyer.

"Oh, I'm sorry, come in. Let's go into the den." I pointed her that way and she preceded me into the den. She looked around and I waved her toward the couch. "Please, have a seat. Can I get you something to drink?"

She sat on one end of the couch. "No, thanks. I just wanted to see you now that you are home."

I sat at the other end of the couch. "I appreciate that. How is everything going with the Johnson family?"

She fixed me with those blazing blue eyes that she had passed on to her daughter. "We are all fine except for Lily. I came here because I could tell you always had a thing for her when you were in high school."

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