A Proper Send-off

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"When the going gets tough, the tough get going." It was something Sarah's father had liked to say from the back of his auto shop when the work had piled up.

Sarah had always taken the saying to mean that when things got difficult, the tough people of the world went about working on the solutions. Of course, as she slammed the metal door on the storage locker down, Sarah realized that the cliché could be read another way. "The tough get going" could mean the tough folks simply took off when things got difficult.

As Sarah turned the key to lock up the storage unit, she realized that for the first time in her life, she was leaning towards that reading, just bailing on her tough times. She'd had tough times before, more than most, Sarah assumed.

Her mother had left the family when Sarah was only three years old, leaving her to be raised by her father alone. What that had actually meant was growing up in an auto shop in small town California, raised by her father and around the odd collection of mechanics her father intermittently employed as surrogate uncles. Add in the fact that Sarah had known she was gay from an early age, and she had definitely faced her share of adversity.

She'd always persevered. Before Sarah was in her teens she'd taken every advantage of her surroundings. She was as talented a mechanic as anyone her father employed and soon he'd actually taken to assigning her work when there was overflow. There was something she found so soothing about the entire process, the way an engine was a simple collection of moving parts that could be diagnosed, repaired and restored. Sarah found a power and a confidence in working with her hands that she'd never had in school trying to remember formulae and dates and times. If she was going to grow up surrounded by men who swore and talked sports and girls, Sarah was going to blend right into that too. At nineteen, Sarah was a match for any of the other grease monkeys when it came to talking football or how to please a woman. Sarah even grew to love the bawdy camaraderie that existed within the place.

Then her world fell apart. Sarah's father died suddenly of a heart attack. Still reeling from the loss of her father, Sarah learned that the business was in bad shape to boot. She'd tried to keep what her father had started going; she was as capable of running the garage as anyone, but the shop was too deep in debt. Sarah soon learned that a nineteen-year-old girl who'd barely made it out of high school was not high on any bank's list of preferred customers. All of her efforts to secure the necessary financing failed and, still in her teens, Sarah had found herself parentless, unemployed and without much in the way of prospects.

Again, Sarah had persevered. On the last night that Sarah had gone drinking with the other mechanics her father had employed, one of them had mentioned that the Army was always looking for talented mechanics, especially with a war on. A few months later, Sarah found herself at a recruiting office. It wouldn't be easy. Aside from the regular tensions and stresses of active duty life, the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy meant that Sarah would have to keep her sexuality a tightly guarded secret. It meant that no matter whom Sarah might meet, they'd either have to have a brief fling or conduct themselves in private, risking discharge if she was discovered.

She managed basic training and specialized training with surprising ease. Sarah had always been tall and with a few extra pounds but the rigors and challenges of army life soon had her in the best shape of her life. Sarah found the physical challenges exhilarating and reveled in meeting them and exceeding them. She ran every day, first for a mile, then two, and now she was at almost five a day. By the end of her first deployment, Sarah didn't have an ounce of unwanted fat on her, her arms were toned and powerful, her legs long, lean and strong. She even had a halfway decent six-pack going when she really went at it.

To top it off, Sarah found working on Humvees to be as easy as civilian cars, found a vaguely similar sense of camaraderie with the men and women of her unit as she did in the shop--though she did have to artfully deflect more than a few advances--and even bought into the nobler aims of her job. She was serving her country, protecting the land she loved. True, she was well aware of the hypocrisy of protecting freedoms that were, in certain cases, denied to her, but Sarah still dedicated herself to it. In her first three years Sarah received several promotions and commendations for her almost superhuman work ethic.

Then, on her first stretch of extended leave in years, something wonderful happened. Sarah met Audrey, a pretty, slight brunette. Audrey and Sarah didn't have much time before Sarah would be overseas again, but they made it count. They had an intense, thrilling, wonderful few months together. By the end of it, they were saying their "I love you's" and making plans to live together as soon as possible. Everything Sarah owned was left at Audrey's house on her next deployment and they were, in all ways, a couple.

That led to new stresses in Sarah's next deployment. Now she did have something to hide and Sarah missed home powerfully during the long, hot days and the lonely, cold nights. She and Audrey tried to make it work and were successful for two years. Things were looking up. Not only was Don't Ask, Don't Tell repealed, but Sarah was nearing the end of her six-year enlistment. Only one more deployment stood between her and civilian life with her girlfriend. Sarah had come back to the states just a week earlier on her two-week leave. It would be the last time she and Audrey would be together before they were together for good. Sarah had come home thinking that they would spend the first week in bed, as they usually did, and then would spend the next week planning the rest of their lives together. Sarah

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Written by sweetesthing
Uploaded November 25, 2019
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