Hero of War (Part 18)

The first week ended and our descent into hell began.

Attacks came from all sides. The onslaught of bullets never seemed to end. Our ears were filled with the sounds of the fired shots, resembling the cacophony of jackhammers and ringing just the same.

Moments of silence felt like an attack waiting to happen. My heart never returned to my chest, choosing instead to take residence in my throat. The jittery feeling like being high on caffeine never seemed to dissipate from my limbs.

My only solace on those terrifying jackhammer nights was sleeping beside her. Her hand in mine reassured me that some hope for the warm, innocent world beyond Hell existed. Her soft, rhythmic breathing lulled me to sleep beneath the moonlight that softened her harsh features. Her eyes, glowing brighter than the North Star, kept me company on our silent vigils, standing guard beside me while our friends slept.

Sergeant Major Peters and the rest of our troop pretended not to notice our romance, occasionally even helping us get shifts together. We used to joke that it was because they missed the romance in their own lives, but we were more appreciative than we could ever express through words.

Without them, we would have gotten separated long ago. Without them, we would have been placed into separate units. Without them, we wouldn’t have gotten the chance to plan for life after our required year of service ended.

Without them, she might not have been there when the landmine went off.

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