I Didn’t Know You Were…

In honor of Armed Forces Day (May 21), I hope you enjoy this flash fiction story.

I Didn’t Know You Were…

By Sarah Elisabeth

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

Bleep. A chat box with Darren Henderson popped up.

Darren: hey candace! what’s up?

Wow, hadn’t heard anything on that kid since our good ol’ days in 4-H. I didn’t have time to chat, but how rude was it to ignore? I should’ve put my chat offline first.

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

Darren: i’m in iraq

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

Candace: WHAT?!

Darren: i’m a police officer in the air force

Candace: Okay, seriously, I didn’t 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: What’s it like? Is anything the news media says true?

Darren: lol, i don’t know, we don’t watch it much. what are they saying?

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

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

Candace: haha, I’ll 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: i’ve lost like 20 pounds since i joined. have you seen my pics on here?

Candace: not yet. Hang on, my computer’s freezing up

Candace: okay, it’s going now

Candace: dude! What’s 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 fishing…

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 can’t believe you’re in Iraq! Must be tough – I couldn’t imagine

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

Candace: I’m 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 wasn’t a phone conversation.

Darren. A few years my junior, but he still seemed like a kid to me. And good kid he was. I couldn’t 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. I’m proud of you. We all are

Candace: We’ll be praying for you!

Darren: thanks! can’t 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 hadn’t 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 Darren’s address and made a list:

Snacks (hearty)

Magazines (hunting, fishing)


Thank you card

Only a few days had passed when I took Darren’s 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 I’d been waiting for appeared.

Darren Henderson wrote on your wall:

hey guys! thanks so much for the box!!! so awesome!!!!! can’t wait to see y’all!!!!!!!!



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

Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer is an award-winning inspirational author, speaker and Choctaw storyteller of traditional and fictional tales based on the lives of her people. Get a free e-copy of her first book, "Touch My Tears: Tales from the Trail of Tears": Free e-book

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  1. […] Let’s start small. Perhaps the least known term in my vocabulary is flash fiction (AKA short, short stories). On FaithWriters.com, they say I’ve mastered this form of writing by pushing me to the Masters Level (still not comfortable with that) in the Weekly Writing Challenge. All I know is, flash fiction is crazy fun to write and just as fun to read. Here’s one of mine: I Didn’t Know You Were… […]

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