Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Cost of Defence

'Stop,' his hand came out suddenly, a firm grip on my wrist.

I looked at his hand holding mine. I wouldn't look at him.

'What are you doing to yourself?' his voice was low and measured, a softer tinge to his usual bark during our daily drills, as he shouted orders, insults, and punishments.

I looked at the cigarette smouldering, still held captive in his firm grip on my hand. Ash accumulated on its tip, the orange mirroring the sun setting to the left.

'You don't even like the effing things, why do you still smoke them, for Christ's sake?'

'Sam, just leave me alone, k?' I muttered. 'Just because you're the lieutenant doesn't mean you can dictate my life choices.'

'Oh, hell yeah I can.' He sounded more threatening this time. I hesitated; was he right?

'You don't get it, OK. I saved every penny for 5 years for ... someone else. I didn't spend a dime except for the necessities. And now... Now I can spend my hundred thousand on whatever I want. I can burn it. That's what I'm doing. With this.' I shook my hand holding the half formed cigarette.

'You're poisoning yourself.'


His hand tightened on my wrist. It hurt. I finally looked at him, and his eyes met mine. Green eyes again.

I brought my knee up into his stomach. He let out a loud exhalation but otherwise didn't make a sound.

'"Don't let your guard down unless you want them to kill you", lieut. Isn't that what you drill into us?'

I dropped the cigarette into the sand and walked away, trying not to limp. His abs were hard as steel. Instead I massaged some feeling into my arm. 

'You don't put your life on the line for others if you only mean to punish yourself!' his voice yelled after me.

'Tell me about it,' I mumbled, as sand swirled around my boots, the heat giving way to the evening desert chill. I dropped onto the ground, watching the sun lower itself until it became a forgotten memory.