- by Abigail Shannon Chua
Wesley Methodist School Melaka

It happened a few years ago at work. I worked as a physiologist at a Wellness Centre for soldiers in New Jersey, USA.

One day, I was assigned to James who had a leg injury from a battle in Afghanistan. At first, we just talked to each other about normal casual stuff but after James had fully recovered, we had gotten really close to each other. When he went back to Afghanistan, he continued to email me and we often Skype each other. Every time he came back on leave, he would visit me and bring me out for dinner. He introduced me to his parents and they welcomed me with open arms. My parents liked James and treated him like their own son. Eventually, all of us got along with each other really well. They often asked when James and I were going to get married but we were still unsure.

In July, James was called back for duty in Afghanistan and got ready to leave. I followed him to the pick-up point where all the other soldiers were and waved him off. When he got onto the bus, as they were about to leave, he suddenly asked the driver to stop. He then quickly alighted and ran towards me.

"James, you're going to be late!" I exclaimed as he hurried towards me.

"Sorry, but I can't wait any longer for this," he said. He knelt down and drew a small box from his pocket. "Alice Green, would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"

I immediately threw my arms around him and exclaimed, "Of course I do."

He put the ring on my finger and we embraced. Everyone started applauding and when James got back on the bus, all of his comrades congratulated him. The other women gathered around me congratulated me while I blushed with embarrassment.

Our parents were thrilled with the news and immediately began preparing for the wedding. It was to be held a week after James got back from duty in September and meanwhile, we were busy making arrangements with the hotel and everything. I had a lot of fun picking dresses, flowers and preparing the decorations. One week before the wedding, we had a bridal shower. We had it at James' house, the day James was supposed to return from Afghanistan. We were so excited about his arrival. In the midst of the party, a black SUV pulled up in front of the house.

"That must be James!" I squealed, hurrying towards the car.

But instead of James coming out, two military officers stepped out of the car.

"Mr and Mrs Greyman?" one of them asked.

"Here," James' parents came forward.

"We're sorry to tell you that your son James Greyman was killed in action today at 900 hours," said one of the officers.

Upon hearing the bad news, James' mother broke down into tears and embraced her husband.

"Please, what happened to him?" I asked them tearfully.

"This issue only concerns family members," said the other officer, before both of them turned away.

"But I'm his fiance," I said tearfully but they just went away.

I collapsed on the ground and started sobbing my heart out. My parents came and embraced me but I was devastated about James' death.

When they finally brought back his body, I was emotionally torn apart. When I looked at him in the coffin, I saw his handsome face, pale and lifeless. I broke into tears again and during the funeral, I just kept on crying. I stayed a long time after they finally buried him. Back in reality, I gently kissed the picture and left reluctantly.