It wasn’t until I got off the Boeing 737 that I realized how much I missed the exhaust of a C-130 and the hum of a Blackhawk. Though I was an adult, I found myself being escorted by a pleasant but talkative TSA agent. It had become my life that I would not be able to do things on my own.

Once I was safely delivered to my next flight, I positioned myself in just the right seat, at just the right angle, to ward off an attack. This was my mind’s preoccupation now. It was here that I noticed an annoying sight.

She was seemingly oblivious to her surroundings, contentedly sitting on the gate floor. I found myself angry and fiery inside. What the hell was this gorilla doing? I found myself even more upset that she was wearing apparel that showed she was a Marine. What the fuck are they letting into the Corps these days?

She was completely unaware, or simply did not care, that she was angering me so. She took her belongings out of her carry-on and spread them all over the floor a though she was having a sleep-over. I found myself feeling uncomfortable for watching. Though she was not concerned with me at all, I could not look away. I began to pray that she would not get on my flight. I prayed to a God that I no longer believed in, and found myself begging I would never be face to face with this girl. I began to clench my fists and feel the sweat falling from my brow. My heart started to pound and breathing became difficult.

There was suddenly no one else in the room, as though were were coming closer to each other without moving from our seats. The world began to stop and I knew this was a moment that would define my future life. I was burning inside, not due to anger but to know this person completely. I could not shake the sensation that she was and should be more to me than a stranger. Everything about me could be defined by this single individual, and I could not fathom the idea of introducing myself. She would go her entire life unaware of the events that were taking place within feet of her.

My flight was called and she made no move. My fear turned to panic as time went from crawling to warp speed. I would leave her here in this room, alone and incomplete. I was nothing more than a coward, a battle-tested wounded warrior who could not command herself to fulfill her destiny. I understood what was at stake, that with a single word, this imperfect woman wound be mine and I would be hers.

Time was against me as they continued to call my name to board. I took a ingle step toward her, begging her to look, to smile, to acknowledge me. As I paused for that moment, the moment that history is made in, she looked away. And I walked away.

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