This begins the story of my deployment to Afghanistan in 2010. I was 20 years old and a Corporal in the United States Marine Corps.
Afghanistan, April 2010, Camp Leatherneck
“Yeah, let me grab my shoes.”
I reach under my rack to get my tennis shoes while he stands in the doorway. As I stand up, I stretch behind me and grab the uncomfortable sewn-in “underwear” liner from within my green silky shorts to remove it from its uncomfortable and constantly suffocating position from the bottom of my ass. I had to remember to cut those restricting things from out of the shorts I had.
I walk outside the cramped metal hooch to put my shoes on, leaning on him as I did.
“Where do you want to go?”
“Anywhere far away from here.”
We begin to run. We get stared at as we pass through the living area of the base. Who were this man and woman and why were they being seen together? Where were they going? The leering gazes of the men in the smoke pit as they watched me run by drifted down to my shorts, where that fucking liner was accentuating my ass again. There was a whistle.
We leave the area at a sprint. The newly formed roads were filled with lines of gravel from the military vehicles that had driven back and forth throughout the day.
He sprinted down a road we hadn’t traveled down before. The lights of the base became more distant. We were in a part of Leatherneck that hadn’t been built yet. There was no one around, no buildings, and no lights in the overwhelming darkness. The stars covered the sky, glittering sparkly. If I gazed up, I became dizzy. I focused my eyes downward, watching my feet hit the gravel, seeing the dust explode upwards with every step. The clear air tasted of dust. Grit would gather in my teeth as I breathed deeper and deeper; there would be a line of mud around my lips by the time the run was over.
My lungs began to ache around mile 4 as we passed back and forth down the unoccupied roads that were formed into empty blocks of future areas of the base. Eventually we slowed and stopped around some white conex boxes that looked like future showers. We laughed as we ducked around them, reveling in our aloneness after the crowded base.
“The sky is gorgeous.”
He looked up and agreed. Then he looked back down at me and stepped closer. I shyly looked up at him as he leaned down, placing his hand on the white wall behind me. When he kissed me, it tasted like Carmex and dust.
We sprinted back to civilization, racing each other loudly through the sleeping areas. The men in the smoke pit had been replaced by new tobacco addicts but the lewd stares remained the same.
“Same time tomorrow?”