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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Cyber Communication (email, IMís, etc) (11/04/10)

TITLE: I Didnít Know You WereÖ
By Sarah Elisabeth
11/08/10


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My fingers raced over the keyboard, drumming out my Facebook login info. I only had a few minutes to check notificationsÖ

Bleep. A chat box with Darren Henderson popped up.

Darren: hey candace! whatís up?

Wow, hadnít heard anything on that kid since our good olí days in 4-H. I didnít have time to chat, but how rude was it to ignore? I shouldíve put my chat offline first.

Candace: Just getting ready for a meeting. What are you up to these days?

Darren: iím in iraq


His words were like pressing the shutter button of a camera. I was the picture for five seconds.

Candace: WHAT?!

Darren: iím a police officer in the air force

Candace: Okay, seriously, I didnít even know you were in the military!

Candace: Wow, how long have you been over there?

Darren: almost a year. i come home in january


What could I say to someone who was protecting the freedom of our country? My freedom?

Candace: Whatís it like? Is anything the news media says true?

Darren: lol, i donít know, we donít watch it much. what are they saying?

Candace: Nothing important. What made you decide to join?

Darren: idk, to do something different. an adventure. itís a little more than i thought. man, itís hot!

Candace: haha, Iíll bet. Texas summers had to prepare you some though ;-)

Darren: yeh, but not really. The sand gets in everything!

Candace: So what exactly do you do?

Darren: i patrol the base and keep everyone in line

Candace: lol, who keeps you in line?

Darren: i keep myself in line

Candace: true. My mom says she remembers you were always responsible. She said to tell you hi!

Darren: hi to her!

Darren: iíve lost like 20 pounds since i joined. have you seen my pics on here?

Candace: not yet. Hang on, my computerís freezing up

Candace: okay, itís going now

Candace: dude! Whatís with the tattoo?

Darren: lol

Candace: So, do you need anything?

Darren: well, i could always use some snacks, magazines. stuff like that.

Candace: what address do I send them to?


It took a few seconds before Darren posted the address which I copied into a Word doc and saved. Magazine titles began rolling around in my head. He was always into hunting and fishingÖ

Darren: how is everyone there? any small town excitement?

Candace: haha, you know us, a regular party town, lol. County Fair just ended, made me think of all the good times we had as kids

Darren: yeah that seems like a lifetime ago

Candace: man, I just canít believe youíre in Iraq! Must be tough Ė I couldnít imagine

Darren: yeah, itís kinda hard sometimes. A friend of mine was killed by a roadside bomb a few weeks ago. You just learn to move on

Candace: Iím so sorry to hear that. You take care of yourself!

Darren: i do


I swallowed down the lump that came with my tears. I was glad this wasnít a phone conversation.

Darren. A few years my junior, but he still seemed like a kid to me. And good kid he was. I couldnít be prouder.

Darren: well, i gotta go. time to eat and stuff

Candace: Okay, it was awesome chatting with you! Hey Darren?

Darren: yeah?

Candace: thanks for your service. Iím proud of you. We all are

Candace: Weíll be praying for you!

Darren: thanks! canít wait to see you guys when i get home!

Candace: us too! Take care of yourself

Darren: thanks for chatting with me. bye!

Candace: see ya soon

Darren is offline.


A minute passed before I took a breath. I was thankful I hadnít missed this opportunity by putting my chat offline. Even if it made me a few minutes late to the meeting.

I clicked on the document with Darrenís address and made a list:

Snacks (hearty)

Magazines (hunting, fishing)

Bible

Thank you card




Only a few days had passed when I took Darrenís box to the post office. They sent me home with an extra form to fill out. With everything in order, it shipped. I wondered how long it would take to reach him. I hoped it made it safely. I hoped he was safe.


A month later the notification from Facebook Iíd been waiting for appeared.

Darren Henderson wrote on your wall:

hey guys! thanks so much for the box!!! so awesome!!!!! canít wait to see yíall!!!!!!!!

Like.



~~~

Author Note: This story is based on an actual Facebook chat with a US soldier serving in Iraq


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This article has been read 479 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sarah Heywood11/11/10
This was nice and especially poignant since I'm reading it on Veterans' Day. Good job!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/12/10
As yesterday was Veteran's Day this story is a great reminder that everyday should be Veteran's Day. Thank you for the message and thank you to all who have served on my behalf.
Verna Cole Mitchell 11/13/10
This is a Grrrrrrreat story! Made me feel good...and sad at the same time for what our soldiers endure for us.
Gregory Kane11/14/10
I think it's good that not only did you write about this, but you also did it. As an outsider looking on, I wasn't sure whether Candace was single or married and hence if the thread was about to take a romantic turn. Judging by the "hey guys" near the end, I concluded that she was married.
Catrina Bradley 11/14/10
I love that this is a true story - and I was so into their chat, I hated that they had to go. :) I hope this one does well; it needs to be shared. :)
Beth LaBuff 11/14/10
I loved this exchange! And I think my favorite part was the "Like" at the end! What a great (true) story!!
Caitlyn Meissner11/15/10
I agree with Gregory. I wondered whether this would turn out to be a romance, though I wasn't sad that it wasn't. I really enjoyed the conversation between Darren and Candace. It sounded real (probably since it was). ;) Good job!
Barbara Lynn Culler11/18/10
This is like you cut and pasted an actual chat-great job!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/18/10
Congratulations for placing 28th overall.
Rachel Phelps11/19/10
Just got to read this one. I LOVE your ending. Well done, Sarah!