Liza’s Love – Short Story

A short story I wrote for a contest, but didn’t place 😦 Hope you enjoy reading it! Feel free to leave feedback in the comments!

Straight out of high school she joined the United States of America Navy. It was her dream. Her first love. For as long as she could remember she had wanted to be in the Navy and serve her country, like her dad always did.
Her second love was her family. Her family was her protection, shield, and joy. It was with them that she shared her triumphs and griefs. It was her family who understood her passion the most, they were the people who never tried to talk her out of it.
Liza’s third love was a boy she had met in tenth grade, and had been secretly crushing on throughout the rest of high school.  He never caught on that the pink and purple haired girl had a thing for him until the last week of school. He had heard it through the grapevine, and by then she wasn’t the crazy haired girl. She was the black-haired girl who had a prom date with someone she wasn’t really into.

He had found her at graduation night wearing a long gown over her astonishing dress by the water fountain in the dark. She was alone. He had gone up to her, and asked her where Brandon, her date was. He was lying somewhere passed out or drunk, she had responded. She herself had only drank a little bit, responsibly. She admitted to being lonely, and tired. She was about to go home, but he convinced her to stay. Jax brought Liza back inside and together they danced the night away.
Their first date was a week after prom, she wore jeans and a tie-dyed shirt. Jax assumed it was because of the black hair, and trying to make up for the lack of colour. It was love at first sight for Liza, she saw him and her insides melted. He was wearing clean jeans with a nice shirt. Nothing too fancy, but good enough for a date. He was handsome, she had thought, inside and out. She loved the neatness and how respectable he was towards her and her career. It seemed he was straight out of a storybook, everything she had expected from him and more from all those years crushing on him.
Their second date was just as great. He had taken her to an amusement park. She dragged him onto all of the scary roller coasters and high rides, while he dragged her on the calmer rides such as the ferris wheel. They balanced each other out, Liza decided by the end of the night as she was eating cotton candy. They were perfect for each other, she thought. He was calm and steady, which is what drew her to him in the first place, and she was rumbustious and flamboyant, her two favourite words she would use to describe herself.
“Babe…” Liza spoke the first word that started the dinner on their third date. By now, their love was ignited like the summer sun.
“Yes?” Jax looked up from his menu. He took Liza’s hand as she longingly reached for his. “What is it?”
“I’ve been called in for training,” she said slowly. “The Navy wants me to go for two full weeks starting tomorrow.” She searched his eyes, but they weren’t telling. She was feeling excited yet nervous for her first deployment type. More nervous about Jax’s reaction. Would he stay faithful? Of course he would. It was only two weeks, after all.
“You have?” His throat closed in.
She nodded.
“Two weeks?”
“Yes,” she nodded again. “But I’ll always love you, Jax.”
He brought her hand to his lips and gently kissed it. “And I’ll always love you, Elizabeth Griffiths.” He looked into her eyes, and she returned his gaze.

“Thank you,” she whispered, not breaking the eye contact. It comforted her.
“I’ll be here, waiting for you to return,” he promised, putting the menu down finally, covering her hand with both of his. “I promise.”
“And I’ll be looking forward to my return,” Liza sighed. “It’s only two weeks. Just a training deployment. I’ll be safe.”
“I know you will be, Liza.” Jax sighed as he spoke. “I just can’t think of two weeks without you…”
Through their three weeks of dating, the two had been inseparable. Late night texts turned into video calls through to the early morning hours. “You did very well during high school,” Liza joked, hands still bound between his.
“I did, didn’t I?” He smirked and kissed her hand again before letting go. He picked up the menu again as the waitress came by.
“Have you two decided yet?” She spoke as she took out her notepad, looking mostly at Jax. There seemed to be a competition of who could wear the shortest black skirt, Jax thought as he looked at her bare legs.
“Yeah.” Liza noticed, kicking Jax underneath the table. “We’ll take a large pizza that we can share,” she said, pointing it out on the menu.
“Alright,” the waitress, Alexandria, said as she bent down to pick up the menus. Liza caught Jax checking her out again. He just couldn’t help himself. It annoyed Liza, and hurt her, making her rethink her outfit of a plain pink dress that reached the floor, and went straight across her chest. No cleavage shown. Suddenly she was feeling overly self-aware. Maybe she should have worn something a bit sexier, she thought to herself, but quickly shut down those thoughts. What she was wearing was perfect. It was Jax’s problem he couldn’t keep his eyes off of bare skin.
“What was that for?” Jax asked innocently as Alexandria left.
“I’ll give you two guesses,” Liza gave him the deadly glare that she had inherited from her assassin grandfather. With that, Jax backed off and behaved for the rest of the night. They talked about their plans for when she came back, and ideas for their reunion date.

USS Monterey, a cruiser ship. Liza’s first station. The American flag flew high as she boarded, wearing her Navy issued clothing for the second time. The first time was for her parents, Kaitlyn and Cole, and family to ooh and aah over it. She walked the gangway towards the deck of the boat. Her name proudly displayed on her dog tags: Elizabeth Griffiths. The words ‘U.S. NAVY’ were stitched proudly onto the left side of her shirt, and her last name on the right.
She turned and saluted the American flag, before turning towards the Officer of the Deck.
“I request permission to come aboard the ship, Ma’am,” she said the memorized lines with full respect as she saluted.
“Come aboard, Ensign Griffiths,” the officer of the Deck, Lieutenant Brown replied to the customary greeting.
Already knowing where she was going, Liza entered the ship and went to the berthing area, where the sleeping racks were. Being the only three women on the ship, they got their own room.
“Hey,” one of the girls said as soon as Liza opened the door. She was greeted by a tall woman who was easily twice her age.
“Hi,” Liza smiled. “I’m Ensign Elizabeth Griffiths… but please, call me Liza.” She extended her arm. The name on the woman’s shirt said ‘Jones’. The badge thing on her shoulder showed she was a Lieutenant Commander.
“Nice to meet you, Liza. I’m Jasmine Jones,” she firmly shook Liza’s hand. “And this here is Lieutenant Heidi Admiral,” she pointed her head towards a girl a few years older than Liza sitting at the desk, turned around, watching the interaction.
“Hi,” Liza waved, setting her duffel bag down. it was a small room, the racks even smaller, barely the length of her forearm high. She went to the closet and hung up her clothes as she small-talked with her new co-workers, finding out where everything was.

Day 1
Dearest Jax,
Today as soon as I boarded, I went to my room. I have two lovely roommates, and we are the only women on this ship. I don’t  mind though, I could kick half of these men’s butts within a second, and make the other half look like wimps.
I went to the gym this afternoon, since I was given the day to look around the ship and get acquainted. I did the dead weights and one of the men asked me if I needed help. He was a jerk about it too – asking if the weights were too heavy and offering the five pound ones. I swore at him and told him to leave, and that’s putting it very nicely. He backed down pretty fast. He did call me by my last name, I’ll give him that much. But it’s unacceptable to offer me the least amount of weight! I know my limits, and just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I cannot look after myself. He even stood in the corner watching me the whole time. Jerk.
The food isn’t as bad as I always thought it would be.
That’s about all for today. Already miss you, Babe!
Lots of love,
Liza


Day 4
Dear my loveliest Jax,
The last few days have been hectic, to say the least. I get up at five in the morning to let my workout routine work into the day.
Mom would be proud of the amount of cleaning of the ship I do everyday to keep everything orderly and spic and span. All those cleaning tips she showed me over the years have really come in handy. It’s not that I’m doing the cleaning on purpose – it’s part of everyday commands! But, it has to get done by somebody, right?
Dad would be proud of me. I haven’t sworn at all in two days because I’ve been in uniform. Even when I’m not in uniform – which isn’t very often – , I do my best to keep my mouth clean. I still have to literally bite my tongue every now and then.
I see that guy who disrespected me often at the gym. I can’t tell you his name, but I can tell you that his status is high enough that he shouldn’t be disrespecting me at all. In fact, no one should be disrespecting women, although my roommates tell me it’s much too common of an occurrence.
I keep thinking back to our first date. It was absolutely perfect. Thank you for setting it up! Remember how great the home-cooked food was? And that movie afterwards we watched in your basement? It was the best movie of all times! I still think back to some of the scenes…
Love you!
Liza xoxo


Day 6
Lovely Jax,
I dreamt of you last night. We were in a field full of red and violet flowers. It was gorgeous. The sky was blue, the sun shining and the temperature was not too hot and not too cold. I was on one side of the field, and you were on the other. We ran to each other, but there was a big ditch that we didn’t see. It separated us, Jax. We couldn’t get past the idea that there was something separating us…
That’s when I got woken up by an alarm. We had a night training exercise. I can’t say much about it, just that it wasn’t as intense as Grandpa’s or Dad’s surprise wake-up drills. I aced it while everyone else groggily walked around, only half-aware of what was going on. It really annoyed me. The only guy who was fully aware was the guy who had asked to help me at the gym on the first day… I think – for easy purposes – I should give you his name…. Brock. It suits him. What do you think?
Anyway, once the drill was done, it was time to wake up anyway, so I continued with my daily routine. No one has bothered me since the Brock incident, and my roommates have highly praised me for today’s performance.

The weather out here is ridiculously hot. We are all succumbed to sweating through our uniforms as we go about our daily work. Summer is the best season to be on a boat, but not a Navy ship.
Love,
Ensign Elizabeth Griffiths


“Who are those from?” a curly black haired girl stretched across the bed the next morning, peering over Jax’s shoulder.
“No one,” he quickly said as he folded up the letters. She had been gone eight days. Eight full days and he couldn’t handle it. The supposed love of his life was somewhere out in the ocean, and he of all people couldn’t handle it. He hated himself for it. But when he had met Rebekah the second day, he couldn’t help himself. She was the perfect eye candy. His trip to the store quickly turned into a trip to her house across town. And he regretted it. But now he was in far too deep to say anything.
“Are you sure?” she came, kissing his neck tactfully.
Nodding, Jax moved his neck to accommodate her lustful kisses. He dropped the hand-written letters on the floor and joined her back on the bed.

Day 8
Dear Jax,
As every day passes, I miss you more and more. I miss the way your lips feel against mine, and how your touch feels. I’m addicted to your love and can’t live without it for much longer. More than halfway there, that’s what I keep telling myself. More than halfway until I can feel your lips against my lips, until I can play with your shaggy hair again.
I know I always said to cut your hair, but please don’t. I’ve decided I like your hair shaggy. It’s beautiful.
Today, Brock came and sat beside me during lunch. I was taken aback. I mean, didn’t he recognize I was the girl who swore at him and told him to leave? He obviously did. He asked how I was holding up, being on my first training deployment and everything. My first thought? How much I missed you. I talked to him about you, and he said we were perfect for each other. Especially if our love can last over the seas. Then we are especially perfect. I couldn’t believe it.
I can’t express my love for you in words, Jax. Not even actions. I keep bubbling up whenever I think of you.
I love you, Jax.
Liza.


“Elizabeth?”
She looked up from her writing on the desk to see her roommate, Heidi, standing behind her with a large envelope in her hands.
“Hey,” Liza smiled, quickly folding up her letter and gave her full attention. She wasn’t trying to hide the content, but she wanted the letters to be just between her and Jax. No one else.
“This came for you,” Heidi gave the envelope, just holding onto it curiously for a second too long.
“Thanks,” Liza smiled as she noticed her younger brother’s, Spencer, handwriting. She was automatically intrigued at what her brother could have sent her that couldn’t wait for another few days. She carefully looked at it, there were beak marks on the rims, telling her that Spencer had transformed into some type of bird to deliver it. It needed extra special attention then.

 

Liza looked up to see Heidi still waiting for her to open the package. Liza didn’t. Instead, she went back to the letter she was writing.

P.S. I just received a package from Spencer. I’m curious to see what is in there, but my roommate is hanging around. I want complete privacy when I open it… just like I hope you have when you open my letters and when I will open the ones I know you are writing… if you’re writing them. I expect that you are, aren’t you?

She looked up and saw that Heidi had gone to her bunk. Privacy enough. Carefully she opened the package. It was just one page, but obviously, he hadn’t wanted it to be folded. It was just a quirk of Spencer. His writing was scratchy, and large, taking up the full size of the paper.

Dear Liza…

I wanted to let you know something important. I hate to be the bearer of bad news! Really, I do!

I bumped into Jax yesterday at the store. He was really nervous and dodgy. He kept diverting his gaze from me. So, being the protective brother I am, I decided to investigate. I turned into a fly and followed him home.

When we got to his house, I followed him up to his room. In there was another girl, half-naked and asleep. He went to her and kissed her on the lips to wake her. She said that she loved him, and that he looked especially handsome that day. He said that she looked like the most beautiful woman he ever saw, rubbing her thigh through the blankets. They kissed again, her hands slipping underneath his shirt….

That’s all I saw. I had seen enough. I was too angry, so I flew outside of the window.

Again, I’m sorry that I’m the bearer of bad news, but this is something you needed to know.

Spencer

 

Tears running down her face, Liza put the letter down. She couldn’t imagine what Spencer had said was true. However, she knew he wouldn’t lie. Not about something so serious. Emotions fluttered around her body. Sadness, anger, frustration, disbelief. She could hardly name them all, and she definitely couldn’t name them as they all entwined together.

“I’m…” She didn’t trust her voice, but here she was, already talking. It was shaky and quiet.

“Hmm?” Heidi looked up from her bunk. “Oh honey, are you alright?” She quickly went up to Liza to give her a hug, but Liza pushed her away. She didn’t want sympathy. She didn’t want to be hugged. She was never a touchy-feely person, especially when emotional.

“I’m going to the gym.” She stepped towards the door.

“At 2300?”

“Yes. At twenty-three-hundred,” she replied, exasperated. Her body was shaking with anger and energy. “Don’t bother to stay up for me.” She left and stormed off to the gym.

She was the only one in the gym for the first hour. And then Brock showed up. Liza grunted under the pressure of all the weights.

“Hey there,” Brock said, taking a weight bench beside her and filling up the rod with weights. She didn’t pay attention to how much he was putting on, but it sounded like a lot.

“Hi,” Liza didn’t look at him.

“Couldn’t sleep either, huh?”

“Nope.”

“Then what?”

Liza put the weights down and sat up. Her eyes were still teary. “My boyfriend cheated on me.” She was short and matter-of-fact about it. She said it in a tone that said that she didn’t want to talk about it. Her heart was ablaze like a bushfire in the heat of the summer.

“Boys can be a joke sometimes,” Brock replied, grunting.

“Like you.”

“Just like me… except I would never ever cheat on a girl.”

“You, at least, have dignity and respect.” Liza got up from the bench and got a cup of water from the water dispenser. She threw the disposable cup in the garbage, and kicked the wall hard. She swore as loud as she could.

It must have scared Brock, because before anyone could blink he was by her side. “Griffiths, control yourself!” he said in a voice that deserved the most respect.

Instantly Liza stood up straight and saluted. “Yes, Sir.”

“Good. Now go on the treadmill,” he instructed. “And make sure you hydrate.”

“Yes, Sir,” she said automatically. The tension was being released in her body with each automatic ‘yes, Sir’, a practice her dad drilled into her from a young age. It was something of comfort. Something that told her that her dad was there in spirit.

She went on the treadmill, put it on the hardest setting, and kept going till she couldn’t do it any longer. Brock stayed, watching her while doing his own light workout. They didn’t talk anymore, rather stayed in complete silence. Brock, supporting Liza.

When Liza was done, he made sure she hydrated, and escorted her to her room to make sure she didn’t collapse from fatigue, before going back to his own rack.

Day 12

Jax,

Four days ago I got the news that you were cheating on me. I am still at a loss for words. but everyone on the ship here is threatening you and protecting me. They say that they won’t let me go back to you…

 

She put down her pen. She wanted to go back to Jax. She had been given the day off from duties the next day and had spent the whole day in the gym. She was in there every spare moment. Her heart constantly ached for Jax. She wanted him back. She wanted to forgive him.

She had fallen truly, madly, and deeply in love with Jax, and nothing would change that love.

She promised herself that in two days when the ship came back to port, she would jump into his arms.

Two days later she did jump into his arms at the dock after her orderly departure. Her whole family was there as well, Spencer looking along disapprovingly.

“I know what you did,” Liza said when they got into the car alone.

“Did what?” He asked, a facade of innocence washing over his face. His heart started to race. Did she really know what he was doing for those two weeks? How could she know?

“That you cheated on me,” Liza calmly said, looking closely for a reaction.

His facade broke. He put his head on the steering wheel. Instant tears swept over him, and his over muscular body shook with emotion. “I’m sorry,” he mouthed, and punched the steering wheel, making the horn sound.

Liza jumped at the sound, not expecting it. She had never seen him commit any act of violence, not even hurting a bug.

“It’s okay, Jax,” she rubbed his back softly.

“No, it’s not. I love you, Elizabeth,” he looked up at her, distraught. His jaw trembled. His face of complete disdain. She couldn’t stand it. But she couldn’t look away.

She pulled her hand up to his face, and stroked his cheek gently. “And I forgive you.” Her voice gentle, as if talking to a child.

“You do?” His eyes opened wide with surprise. “But I… I…” he couldn’t get the words out. He thought that it was an unforgivable action. A sin.

“I do. And I love you, Jax.” She looked deeply into his eyes, searching.

“I love you too, Elizabeth,” he finally said truthfully. It was the truest thing he had ever said in his entire life. They leaned in closer to each other, and sealed their love with a short but sweet kiss. There was nothing stronger than summer love.

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