You gasp as I desperately push your blood-matted bangs from your forehead. The gurgling sound from within you is subsiding. I feel a rush of panic as I do not know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Are you lying here drowning in my arms? Or has the thick liquid passed through you? Hopefully, it will all come out the other end. I don’t mind; really, please feel free to shit your blood all over me. I want it… if it will keep you alive.
Seems a century, but moments ago, the shrapnel came through only your space in the vehicle. It’s jagged, evil bits and bobs, make-shift blades and well-honed knives made of rusty nails and curled bits of leftovers from splintered cars, melted-down guns and empty fire extinguishers. Why is “why” the only word I can think of? Why you. Why not me, why not Pied Piper, or Snake Bite, or Mac?
The air is white, your face is fading. My head knows it’s happening, but I cannot feel the heat slipping from your body.
The gurgling is back and it’s all I can hear. That and the shifty metal carabineer that holds our flag secure to the pole on the Humvee. It bangs with fervor in the blistering high desert wind. We wait together forever. A skinny buzzard makes fleeting shade on our heads as it flies over, closely eyeing the deep red that signals death.
Some of these assholes say women should not be in battle. Well, this time they get their wish. There is one less.
This story was first published at Diverse Voices Quarterly, p. 57.