War Wounds

From The Electrifying Conclusion, 31 March, 2035 hrs

‘When did you start smoking, Frenchie?’

I want to say that it was after Tabada died. They kept offering me cigarettes, then. ‘End of February.’

‘That’s understanding.’

“Did he know what I meant to say? Sgt Hullet and I were smoking in the dark, under the concrete bunker, out of the rain. The rain that I had prayed for, even though it delayed my friend Bennet’s flight. How selfish of me, I wanted to hear it, see and feel it, smell it on the concrete. Bennet needs to go home. His wife is asking for a divorce, she took all the money he made on this deployment, and he reenlisted for Germany, where he cannot see his kids for 3 years, and he is addicted to pain killers for his back pain, the back that wretched from carrying a machine gun and hundreds of rounds of ammo.

“But his wife, he loved her and he is such a nice guy. He was so happy to have her, thought himself so lucky. That is what breaks my heart, a deeper sympathy than I am familiar. Michelle was worried because she’d seen so many relationships fail. So many tragedies on all of us, wounds of war.

“After nearly a month, I have been reunited with my platoon, moved into their tent with them. I am happy to see Barrientos again, with the rest I am getting along. They will drive our trucks to Shinwar for the next unit, and on the 5th, we are flying to Bagram Air Field.”

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