We were stood up; we were set up to fail from the start.
We fought valiantly, we tried to fight till the end but the world lit us up from our six, our nine and made us take the hit. Sometimes in life you do the best you can but there is no god. Or sometimes timing just launches that perfect grenade you just can’t dodge. Your squad mate even tries to help you out. He tries to push you out of the blast radius but cant. You both take the hit. You both tumble to the ground. Your both left trying to put pressure on each other’s wounds but neither of you can help the other. You’re left to watch the blood run out of the other and see the pain and fear in the other’s eyes and know it’s your own fault… If either of you didn’t care so much about the other… but as your bleeding out the coreman comes.
They take your hands, cover your wounds, and take you to different medivacs. You’ll never see your squad mate in this war again. You’re left to heal alone. Remembering the pain in the other’s eyes and wondering if they’re okay. If you’re lucky enough to be placed in the same hospital you just had Christmas come early. It’s like being told you get to go home before your term is up, but that only happens in the movies.
I wheeled myself down to the rec room, thoughts on a distant plane in another time. I didn’t see the others, some worse off, my limbs might be mangled but they were still attached, some who fared better than most. A bullet in the ass might seem like a big deal, but here it was just a scrape. I knew men who got shot in the gut, stitched up and sent back out in the same day. Where those men were now…I couldn’t tell you. Pain flared up again as I thought about the men I left behind, the ones still fighting for our way of life. No physical pain could ever compare to the pain of leaving your squad behind. Watching the TV I felt blind, I couldn’t see what was on TV, all I could see was the look on my squad mate’s face as the medics took us away. Both of us reaching for each other, trying to help one another but in reality getting in the way instead.
I snapped back to reality as I heard someone talking about the effort, loud, angry voices.
“What do you mean Matsuo front was lost?”
“Calm down sir, please just calm down” A harried sounding nurse was saying, you could hear the stress in her voice. I rolled myself closer to the voices, I knew where Matsuo was, everyone did, it was one of the current front lines or at least I thought it was.
“Are you fucking kidding me? How can I calm down? My unit was stationed on the Matsuo front! Where the hell are my men?!” I heard his voice getting more and more agitated with each sentence. I knew that pain, knew that heartbreak all too well.
“Telling him to calm down isn’t going to help. Do you know anything about what happened?” I asked the nurse, watching the solider rake his hands through his hair, his eyes wild. I could tell he was on the verge of losing it, something he would regret if he did. He snapped his eyes to me then to attention.
“Sir.” He said, clearly exacerbated by the situation.
“Who are you attached to?” I asked looking up at him nodding.
“57th Overlanders Brigade, Sir” He replied with pride in his voice.
“At ease, unit?” He started to relax and the nurse shot me a quick smile.
“I was with the 84th Sir.” He started to sit down, rubbing his leg where a bandage could be seen under his shorts.
“Sit. Relax. I knew the 84th, I served with them for a bit.” I waved away the nurse and, clearly happy it was over walked away. “Back in the day.”
“Really Sir? I didn’t think they allowed…” He trailed off his face going red.
“Go ahead, finish it” I said laughing, I was surprised at the sound of it, it had been a long while since I let out a good laugh.
“I didn’t think they allowed women into the ranks there.” He said sheepishly.
“Most of the bases don’t, but it was actually my first placement when I volunteered.” Smiling I absentmindedly ran my hand through my cropped short hair, when I enlisted it was so long I thought wistfully.
“You weren’t drafted?” He asked dumbstruck.
“They still don’t draft women. They have to leave someone to hold down the planet.” I said with another laugh. “Plus it looks bad. They still think we should be at home, at least the majority of men do in service.”
We talked until the orderlies came around announcing dinner, never going back to the subject of the current front lines. I didn’t want to bring it up again and he didn’t ask. He was too interested in how I got into his brigade and the war in general. We ate together, it felt good to have some sort of friend in the hospital who wasn’t a nurse thinking I needed “female company.” To tell the truth it was something I had forgotten how to be in; after being in service for so long I had nothing to talk about other than guns, theoretic strategy, tanks, planes and helio’s. We joked around, garnering strange looks from the other patients; laughter was a scare commodity now a days.