WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND, by David Timothy Duty
US Air Force Staff Sergeant TIM DAVIS is on a leave and already planning on reenlisting. On the plane he meets Staff Sergeant MICHAEL HARRIS whose tour is up and reminds Tim to keep his priorities straight. Tim’s welcomed home by his PARENTS and fiancée HEATHER who can’t wait to get married. At a party, Tim meets a bartender named MARISA HARRIS, whom he’s instantly attracted to, and Michael’s widow. Tim’s been seeing Michael’s ghost everywhere. The plane. The party and in his own home. Michael wants his help in making sure the people he loves are cared for. Meanwhile, his parents and Heather want to plan out Tim’s life for him including education, career and a wedding in three weeks. It pushes Tim’s buttons. Tim agrees to help Michael.
Dinner with Heather’s parents is a disaster and after dinner Tim and Heather fight. Tim admits to his mother he’s not in love with her anymore. Tim works up the nerve to ask Marisa out to dinner. Michael’s a bit unnerved by it but he’s got bigger problems. His mother NANCY’s been hospitalized since his death and near death herself. Besides Tim, she can see Michael. She wants Michael to take her “home”. Tim’s older sister TABITHA, a casualty assistance officer, who coldly notified Marisa of Michael’s death, is learning a lesson about moving on when she runs into her ex LUKE and his very pregnant girlfriend WENDY. This stings Tabitha as she’s still grieving their stillborn child. Marisa considers opening a bakery/coffee shop with her SISTER and Tim’s deployment gets pushed back.
All is not rosy. A drunk Tabitha comes face-to-face with Marisa and spills the beans about Tim’s deployment and him knowing about her husband’s death notification. She breaks it off. Tabitha extends an olive branch to Marisa by inviting her to Thanksgiving dinner. At Thanksgiving, Marisa tells Tim she’s not ready for a committed relationship. Michael takes his ailing mother home. One year later Tim’s back home and he reconnects with Marisa, the passion still as strong as ever. They are happy and ready to go forward together.