A noise startles me awake. I look over at the clock on my nightstand and see it’s 2:00 a.m. My heart starts racing. I reach out for my husband—seeking comfort and safety—but realize he’s not there. My Marine is in the field, which means I’m on my own.
I hear more noises and now I’m sure an intruder is in my house. While I’m scared, I’m also pissed. As the wife of an infantryman who is always gone, I have had to learn to fend for myself.
I slowly reach for the Taser under the bed, but can’t find it. Now I’m in complete panic mode and begin to move quickly.
“Where is the damn mace?” I wonder as I crawl along the floor headed for the bathroom. That’s when I realize the mace is by the front door.
Adding to my rising anxiety, I am now on the opposite side of the room. I’m too far away from the phone to be able to quickly call for help.
I hear someone rummaging through our cabinets! I take comfort in the fact that we survive on a meager $400 a week, which means there is nothing worth stealing in this house.
Still, I am chilled to the bone with fear. I try to take comfort in the fact that I live in base housing, which is guarded by men carrying guns. I’m one of the few who continues to lock my doors. I know anyone who really wanted to could get on base.
I grab a can of generic strawberry body spray and hold it in front of me in a defiant gesture of self-defense as I slowly move down the hall.
I find myself thinking, “Why did I leave South Carolina to be here by myself all the time? My husband is never around to protect me; he’s too busy fighting for other people! Why didn’t I marry a banker? Do banker’s wives have to fight off intruders by themselves in the middle of the night?”
By now my breathing is so shallow that I have become dizzy with fear and a lack of oxygen.
I creep into the laundry room, where I hear the intruder. I hold up the can, ready to fight him off with body spray. There is someone in the room with me.
I flip on the light and come face-to-face with a nude man! As he spins toward me I see his camouflage-painted face and we both scream. I spray him directly in the face with a generous amount of my special strawberry and cream repellent before taking off running down the hall.
Within seconds, a pair of muscled arms grab me around the waist and I begin yelling “RAPE!” I turn to face my attacker. His black, brown, and green face is staring at me just inches from my own.
That’s when it registers. The face with the strange colors belongs to my husband. By now his eyes are swollen and he’s coughing.
In unison, we ask, “What is wrong with you? What are you doing?”
He’s the first to answer.
“We got done in the field early, so I thought I’d surprise you.”
“Some surprise,” I respond angrily. “You’re lucky I keep the mace by the front door.”
Relieved, I escort my nude and very dirty Marine to the bathroom, where I spray him down to get all the dirt and camo face paint off.
As his smile emerges, my fear and anger begin to melt away. I haven’t seen him for days, and realize how good it is to have my love home.
My anxiety melts away as he takes me in his arms. I feel safe and whole again.
We laugh and then I kiss lips that still smell of strawberries.
As we head for the bedroom, I think, “Let those other women marry bankers. I’ve got myself a Marine.”