Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Secret Agent #22

TITLE: Half a World Away
GENRE: Adult Psychological Thriller

February 13, 1991


And just like that, the bus started to pull away.

Maggie Reyes was motionless among the assorted family and girlfriends, all waving and cheering and crying and calling out encouraging words. She kept her eyes locked on the back of the bus, ignoring the billowing cloud of Syracuse’s endless exhaust blowing her way. A few people tried to start a “U-S-A!” chant, which made her stomach flip. She wanted to turn on them and shout, Seriously? The fuck do you think this is? A pep rally? But she wouldn’t, unable to look away from the bus or unlock her jaw. Mercifully, the chant gave way to a messy chorus of goodbyes aimed at the rapidly shrinking bus, as if it was a turn-of-the-century ocean liner and not an Army Reserve unit being sent off for mop-up duty in the Gulf War.

The recurring thought came back to Maggie: They say the fighting is over, but they’re leaving just the same. The day before Valentine’s Day, for Christ’s sake.

She stood dumbly among the crowd of boisterous well-wishers, her eyes off the back of the bus as it grew smaller and smaller. As the bus slipped into downtown traffic, the only words just barely making it to Maggie’s lips were, “Don’t go, Nick. Don’t go.” But there was no stopping the inevitable. A light turned green, the bus made a careful turn towards the highway, and it was gone.

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