To Whom It May Concern
Camp Liberty, Baghdad 2007
The walk back from the Chapel was different this time. Not because he was in our squad and someone I had spoken to moments before the death, not because this was the fourth casualty our unit had suffered so far this month, the mind somehow blocks those truths out. This was a new emotion, something that many of us must have been feeling for awhile now and yet still managed to keep buried for so long now. This was Hate, pure and simple. Hate for the people, hate for the country, and hate for our damned selves for having to be there.
I could feel it all around me; we weren’t crying tears of remorse at this service, there were no more pity tears left in any of us to release. The idea of having sympathy and sorrow had now been forever taken away. As I walk back to the little trailer they have us living in, the thoughts of never smiling, laughing, or enjoying life cross my brain which is only answered with an uncaring shrug of the shoulders. Alexis, (my roommate or “Battle Buddy” as the army puts it) must be experiencing the same reality. Neither of us has spoken a word to one another since leaving the Chapel, and I only suspect that this is going to be the trend amongst all of us. Oh, sure there will be the usual talk of hi and bye and whatever in-between, but will it be real?
“I am going to make a pot of coffee.” Alexis mumbled in a dead tone, as we walk into the door of our little living quarters. I just placed my rifle down onto the bed, removed my top uniform jacket, grabbed the lawn chair, and walked outside. It is a Thursday night; the usual sounds of poker games and the idiots getting drunk off diluted air conditioner cleaner (stolen from the motor pool) have vanished. Somehow I find comfort in this silence, not to think but to sort of do the opposite that is not to think. I just want to become inexistent, just as the familiar noises have found a way.
Staring at the concrete T-wall barrier placed in front of our hut I drift away, whatever trance I was in is broken by the sounds of Alexis crying. I pull out the pack of cigarettes from my pants pocket and fire one up. I focus on a hole in the wall, which exposes the rusted old re-bar, and put all concentration towards that. By the time I notice Alexis; she is drinking from her coffee cup and sitting on the steps behind me also smoking. “Do you want to talk about it?” she innocently asks. “No, no I don’t, but how is the coffee?”
Band of Sisters: American Women at War in Iraq