Chapter 3-Trying To Forget
Music: Better Than Me-Hinder
TWO MONTHS LATER
My Dearest Damien,
I have put off writing this letter for a while now but I can’t do it anymore. Oh, I ’m mad at myself for not fighting harder for you and I hate myself for hurting you. First, I know you hate me for everything I’ve done, and I’m truly sorry. I’m so sorry for breaking your heart but at the time it felt like it was the right thing to do.
It was stupid now that I have had time to think about my actions. I should have stayed and explained my fears to you, but like the coward I am I ran away and because of that you were hurt. There is nothing I can do to take back all the pain but I can at least tell you the truth.
The day you left I tried to tell you something very important but you shut me down. I want so badly to tell you but it’s not something I can just say in a letter. If you don’t want to talk to me I understand but it’s not just about me anymore. I’m not asking you to accept my apology, but I’m asking for you to contact me and to be safe so you can return home.
If you don’t respond to this letter I will walk away and try to move on with my life. Just know I love you and always will.
I have read that letter a thousand times and still don’t have an answer for her. What couldn’t she tell me? I want to hate her for letting me go. I don’t get it, did she just not have enough faith in me and in me? I received this letter after I had been here in Iraq a month, and now it’s two months later. I wonder if she is still waiting for me to answer her of if she really did move on with her life.
It’s what I want for her but why do I get a sour feeling in the pit of my stomach when I imagine her with someone else? I’ve read the letter every day for the last three months, I don’t know why though, maybe I just like to punish myself and like to live in a fantasy world. I never replied back because the truth is after everything I’ve seen and done out here I’m not good for her. I’m just a selfish prick who keeps holding on.
My first mission was to patrol the border of the city. Terrorists were getting in and taking control, our job as infantry is to go in a take them out so to speak. The mission was just supposed to be an in and out but that all went to hell in hand basket ten minutes in.
“Shit!” Jordan “shooter” Jackson hisses. I look up at him manning the gigantic automatic assault rifle since he’s the best aim out of the six of us. His tan skin had gone pale and sweat is sticking to his skin, his eyes widened with fear and he points his finger to the front of the road. I turn my head and see a kid around ten standing there. The poor kid looked terrified, after seeing the bomb strapped to his chest, I couldn’t blame him. I’m scared too. All I could see was red at this point but my humanity kicked in, I want to help him.
“We have to help him! He’s just a kid.” Were all informed once we arrived that ISIS will use kids to get to us, they play on our weakness and know that we will want to save them. I hate it and I want to see all of those Bastards bleed. We aren’t the monsters, they are.
“Pull over Reed and we’ll see what we can do.” Jake “the Alpha” Russell commands. Jake is a Commander and our boss. We answer to him and follow his orders, he’s a pretty cool guy though and likes to joke around with us. He’s twenty-eight and enlisted right out of high school as well.
“Yes, Sir.” I pull the HMMWP (High mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicle ) over, Jake jumps out first and I follow. Jordan stays standing in the back of the tan humvee. His job is to alert us of any incoming danger. Dan and Sullivan stand guard with their rifles poised and ready to strike.
Jake says something in Arabic. I was shocked the first time I heard him. He explained that he has served many tours here and has learned the language over the course. It comes in handy when you don’t have an interpreter on hand. The boy’s dark brown eyes light up with excitement, and I take a minute to examine him. He is covered in head to toe dirt, and his tattered clothes barley cover his lithe body.
“What?” Dan grumbles, he hates that call name.
“Watch my six; I’m going to get some water and food for this boy. He’s starving and thirsty.”
“I gotcha man.” Dan turns his body around so he’s covering my back. I rummage through the back and find a couple of granola bars, a canteen and some rags. Gathering them all up I head back to find our explosives expert sitting on his haunches studying the bomb.
“Are you hungry?” I ask him. He nods and takes the candy from my hand. I don’t know if he understood me or just was just accepting the food. I chuckled as I watch him rip open the wrapper and shove the whole thing in his mouth.
“You need to slow down there, buddy,” Jake laughs softly. The boy finishes his sweet treat and eyes the canteen in my other hand. I don’t have to ask him, I just open it up and hand the wet drink to him. He nearly chokes as he guzzles down the water. I hear Jamal “Bomber” Diez sigh, and flick my eyes over to him. The grim appearance is not a look I’ve ever seen on Diez, he looks defeated.
“Can you help him?” I ask. Bomber shakes his head.
“Whoever designed this is smarter then we given then credit for. If we try to take it off , it will kill him instantly.” At that moment I wanted to punch something and to see these bastards strung up. They need to pay for making innocent children do their dirty work. I take a deep breath and move my eyes over to the boy. . The poor boy knows he’s not be coming out of this alive; I just wanted to scoop him up and run somewhere safe. Instead, I shift my feet and ball my hands into a fist, resisting the temptation to hit something.
“So no matter what we do the kid is going to die?” Alpha and Bomber both glance up and they don’t have to answer me. “Fuck this, I can’t just stand here and watch a child die.” I pick up my rifle and head back to the jeep.
“Fuck!” Dan shouts then gunshots ring through the sky.
Luckily, none of our team was injured physically but we all live with the emotional scars from that day. The little boy we tried to save had a semi-automatic rifle forced into his hands and told him to shoot. He aimed his gun at me and from his shaking hands and tear filled eyes he didn’t want to do this. I hated that he was put in this situation but at that point it was him or me. I pulled the trigger and broke when his body fell to the ground. His blood mixing in with the dirt.
I never in my life thought I would have to kill a child and that’s what started my path to self-destruction. I began having nightmares but never told anyone because if they knew I had PTSD I would be sent home. So I just shut off my emotions and went numb, didn’t let anything else affect me. I was a killer and I should just own up to it. Thus the name Frostbite, I’m a cold son of a bitch and my looks could freeze a man in his place.
I know I need to get my shit together since I could be jeopardizing my career, but all I know how to do now is kill and be a soldier. Would Emily, sweet naïve and innocent Emily still want me if she knew what I have done? Hell, my own mother doesn’t.
I need you to tell me to move on Damien. Until you say those words I will wait for you. I love you always. I read the last line in her letter, the paper is starting to tear in places and the words are fading but it’s those words that eat at me every time I see them. I’m such a selfish asshole, she’s been waiting for two months for me to let her go but can I?
I take out a piece of paper and start to write, a few simple words should suffice. Dan comes in while I’m writing her address on the envelope. He peeks over my shoulder and sighs.
“Remember when I said I’d kick your ass if you hurt my sister?”
“Well, that still stands D. I don’t know what happened with you two but it’s making both of you a fucking mess and I don’t like it..
I shouldn’t be mad at him for wanting to protect Emily. He’s always had the need to keep her hidden from the dangers of the word and I get why. We both have protected her and this is my way of protecting her heart from anymore damage. I hand him the letter so he can send it with his.
“I’m doing the right thing for her.” I turn on my heels and walk away.
I really want to apologize if the scene with the child affected anyone, I didn’t want to write it but it’s a part of the war. I watched a mini-series Called The Long Road home last week and felt very inspired to write this story. In the show Patrick Schwarzenegger’s character shoots a kid around the age of 10, he didn’t want to and begged the kid to put the gun down, the kid didn’t and was killed. That broke him, I couldn’t imagine being in their postion and having to make the choices the soldiers would have to make.
I needed to write the scene because without it Damien wouldn’t have his story arch. This isn’t the first time Damien will have to witness death and it won’t be the first kid he’s had to kill. I mean if it were you or the kid with a bomb strapped to his chest what would you do? Please don’t judge me too harshly since I don’t know everything there is to know about war, I’m just going by what I’ve read and watched on T.V. I could never really know the full depth of what they face.