With his first step onto the Afghan sand, the life Mike Shuler had known was gone forever. He had suffered the loss of his father and his best friend during his time away. The demons he faced in the desert turned his once hopeful future into dreams of a traumatic past, taking away every part of his soul.
The Marine could save the world but only one person could save him … his Grace.
The world passed by in colors of green and blue. Not a single color to remind me of the place where I had spent the last four years of my life. But I didn’t need much of a reminder. Those thoughts were imbedded in my brain, flashes of moments that came and went whenever they pleased. No matter what I tried, I could never get away from the desert. Not even on this train, drowning in the colors of lush trees and shimmering rivers that blur before my eyes. Just as buildings and houses began to pop up among the trees, the click-clack of the train wheels began to slow.“Main Street Station,” the conductor’s voice echoed through the car. Other men in camouflage stood before me, all of them staring out the window at the approaching train station. I stared with them, holding on to some small shred of hope that Grace would be waiting for me. But I knew that wouldn’t be. I hadn’t told anyone I would be arriving early, so there was no way she could have known. But some part of me hoped she would feel my homecoming and show up on a whim. To see only a glimpse of her face would make this agony a little less harsh.
Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines dashed for the exits with their duffle bags thrown over their backs. I took a deep breath and stood, making my way to the front of the car. The conductor shook my hand before I stepped down to the platform. No words were spoken, but I nodded when I met his eye. After all, I did this for him. I did this for everyone.