This is the part of the uniform that I loathe. No matter how many times I have done this, it never gets easier. When I joined the Army, they never told you about this duty being one that you may have to carry out. I shift uncomfortably in the passenger seat as we drive along the residential road.
I had been stateside for several months now recovering from wounds I suffered in Afghanistan. I was fortunate enough to be able to come home alive; several other men and women in my unit were not as lucky. Survivor’s guilt is a terrible thing that I am dealing with every day.
The car stops in front of a small Cape Cod type house. The house and yard are well maintained. Colorful flowers spill out of the flower beds that line the sidewalk. The yard has a white picket fence. It is the picture of the American dream. The sound of a dog comes from around back followed by the giggles of a small child. That must be the son, as my heart plummets with regret.
My companion and I exit the vehicle. We both slip our hats on and walk silently up the front porch. I press the doorbell. I hear a female voice tell the child to be careful, that she will be right back. The door opens revealing a beautiful blonde woman in a sundress. The smile fades from her face as she takes in our uniforms and she pales considerably.
“Ma’am,” I say quietly. “We are looking for Mrs. Samuel Merlotte.”
She nods her head and swallows before speaking. “That’s me,” she whispers as tears already form in her eyes.
With sympathy, I look down on the woman clinging to the door. I fucking hate this part of the job! Having to notify the next of kin that their loved one is not coming back from their tour rips my soul apart. “Ma’am, it would be better if we came inside,” I said quietly.
“Please,” she begs as tears slide down her face, “just tell me.”
I look at my companion and he nods his head slightly. I turn back to look at her and I feel my heart break. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Merlotte,” I whisper.
I don’t get to finish my explanation. The woman pitches forward and faints in my arms.