On the Line 2.1

by Steve on September 5, 2007

Ed: It’s been far too long since the last installment and for that I humbly apologize – other commitments, projects, etc. For anyone just stumbling in, start here.

The dream began as it always did with a vision of Susan flashing her radiant smile that seemed even more brilliant when it was aimed at him. The sun was dancing in her hair and the warm sea breeze teased her wedding dress. Susan was the most beautiful woman that Ted had ever met: she possessed physical, mental, and spiritual beauty that was just unfair. He knew from their first year at the Naval Academy that she was something special, something incredible. And when she had selected aviation he had no doubt that she would succeed, she always did. Ted’s father, Admiral Marcus Gordon, who was decidedly traditional, was not as convinced; his opinion did not match the Navy’s official position regarding women in the armed forces. Susan had proved the Admiral wrong by continually graduating in the top of her class throughout flight training and then surprised everyone when she was selected to attend test pilot school after her first fleet deployment. She arguably had been one of the best helicopter pilots in the Navy.

In these recurring dreams she always seemed to float about as if she had wings of her own. The glowing sunset that had so perfectly framed their wedding on the beach was always eclipsed in his dream by thunderheads as a storm moved in quickly. Day turned to night as Ted was swallowed up in the nightmare surrounded by sheets of rain and storm-tossed waves pierced by brilliant bolts of lightning. As the storm inside his head climaxed, Susan’s face would appear again but the warm smile was gone and her eyes stared lifelessly up at him from beneath the surface of the sea as she slowly sank into the darkness. The crash that had claimed the life of LT Susan Gordon and her copilot consumed his nights to the point that his squadronmates wondered if he would ever recover.

The vision of her helicopter breaking apart as it hit jolted Ted awake and his head slammed into his roommate’s bunk above. Ted was disoriented and it took a minute for him to realize he was back on the ship. His roommate was used to these episodes by now and didn’t even wake up. Ted pulled on his flight suit and boots and quietly left the room headed up to the flight deck to clear his head. The darkness on deck afforded him the peace that he sought – nothing but the sounds and smells of the sea as the USS Reagan cut through the swells. Almost two months had passed since Susan’s crash but the memory still haunted him almost every night. He had loved her with more energy and passion than he thought possible and her loss left a huge void in his life. They had relied on each other as friends to make it through four years of the Naval Academy but both were so dedicated to graduating that they failed to recognize what was happening between them.

Susan got her orders to Pensacola, FL to begin basic flight training as a pilot and left Annapolis shortly after graduation. Ted wasn’t due to start basic training as a Naval Flight Officer for at least another two months. Something clicked in their hearts during that separation: it was the first time they had been apart that long in over four years. Now that the pressure of the Academy was behind them and they were headed to separate training commands they were able to relax and the wall that they had kept between them crumbled. When Ted arrived in Pensacola Susan greeted him at the door of her apartment wearing one of her flight suits unzipped to the waist with nothing underneath. Nobody saw them for the rest of the weekend. Ted smiled at the memory as he gazed out over the moonlit sea. How many times had he and Susan stared out over the water together as the stars and moon blazed a path to the distant horizon? At least he seemed to be healing inside at last, the memories of his time with Susan were starting to bring him comfort instead of the numbing pain that seemed to be a constant in his life. They had worked so hard to be together – a difficult feat when only one spouse faces extended deployment rotations. Susan’s fleet squadron assignment with HS-15 out of Mayport, FL gave her three at-sea detachments in as many years – she was a fully qualified Aircraft Commander in the SH-60 by the second one. Ted had to spend nine months out in San Diego going through training with VS-41, the Fleet Replacement Squadron for the S-3B Viking. Once he was a qualified Tactical Coordinator and had mastered the navigation and weapons systems of the Viking he reported to VS-28 which was conveniently based out of NAS Jacksonville, FL just up the St. Johns River from Mayport. Ted and Susan found a little rental house on the north side of Jacksonville and that had been their first real home together but the dream had been the little farm in Virginia that she found after getting her orders to VX-1. He remembered the excitement in her voice the day she called to tell him about it and how she had been so hesitant to put a contract on it before he had a chance to see it. “No,” he had told her, “I don’t need to see it, I can tell just by listening to the tone of your voice that it’s perfect.” He could still hear her squealing through the phone. They had been longing for the day when he returned from this deployment and received his orders to CAG staff in Norfolk, then they could be together again and make that little farm a real home. With a little luck and plenty of practice there would be little Gordons to share it with.

Leave was usually spent chasing each other around the Mediterranean. When one was deployed the other would catch a commercial flight or a government hop and meet the ship whenever an extended port visit was scheduled. They were apart far more than they were together but when they managed to catch each other it was grand. From ports-of-call in the Med they toured Europe: Palma, Rhodes, Marseilles, Rota, Sigonella, and trips to Rome and Paris. Even with the deployments and long periods of separation it had been a dream.

Next…

{ 5 comments }

Michelle September 6, 2007 at 6:18

Well, its about time! 😉
Good to see you writing again. Now keep them coming as promised. Please.

Deborah Aylward September 6, 2007 at 12:05

A superb piece of writng that has the reader awaiting the chance to “turn the page” so to speak!

Veritas et Fidelis Semper

Nose September 6, 2007 at 17:13

Oh, sure, kill off the hot chicks!

What are you thinking???

Nose

ManlyDad September 8, 2007 at 14:06

‘Bout time the saga continued! Only complaint–too short!

Also, if you don’t mind some constructive editing, it’s ‘waist’ not ‘waste’ in your Susan sentence.

Steve September 9, 2007 at 6:57

Thanks for the catch, MD. Spell Check should be partnered with Stupid Check!

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