Please read the beginning of this story as shown within the “Afghanistan Story” tab above.
Afghanistan, June 2010, Camp Delaram
I sat in the technical control facility (TCF) alone. At some point during the time I was with the grunts, the communications equipment for RCT-2 had been moved out of the tents and into a plywood building that had been erected by the Navy Seabees. The building was spotless and kept out sand and dust extremely well for the desert. It was well-lit, unlike the old networking tent, and the tan plywood was splintery and new.
It was 0200 and everything was quiet. I was simultaneously doing Marine Corps Institute classes and watching Weeds. The drama in Weeds made me feel better about my own life drama. We were still in River City from Dumaw’s death, which meant that all outside communication was cut off until his family was contacted. When I received the email, I knew it came from within Afghanistan.
I read the email, got to my feet, and walked to the help desk next to the COC where Will worked. I stayed on the porch and waited for him to come out to meet me. I didn’t like being summoned, but I went anyway. He came outside and smiled at me. I looked at him and didn’t smile back.
“What’s wrong with you?”
“One of the guys from the missions I’ve been going on.”
“Well, that’s what happens to people outside the wire. It’s a risk they take.”
“I could have been on that patrol. I almost was.”
“Well you weren’t.”
“Why are you so bothered? Were you more than friends with him?”
I was simultaneously sickened and angry at his accusations.
“Look, Will, I’ve been thinking. I don’t think I can do this.”
“Have this baby.”
“Well, you are having it so…”
“I can’t. If anyone finds out, I’ll be arrested. Everything I’ve worked for will be gone.”
“So what are you saying?”
“I dunno. I would have to…”
I stopped talking and dropped my eyes to the ground. My throat swelled up and I swallowed hard.
“You’d be that selfish? To murder a child?”
“Not selfish, Will, I had sex in a combat zone. I went against orders. I could be court martialed and placed in the brig if someone found out.”
“Exactly. If you try to get an abortion, I’ll turn you in. They’ll arrest you and you’ll be placed in the brig and you won’t be able to get an abortion. Then I’ll have the child taken from you because clearly you are an unfit mother.”
“Will, no, everyone will know when I have this kid that I broke the law. I’ll be arrested anyway.”
“At least my child will be alive. I’ll raise her and you’ll finish your time and get out of the military.”
“I’ll be kicked out. Dishonorable discharge. I’ll lose my benefits, everything.”
“So? You don’t need a job. You’ll be a mother.”
“All of my benefits…my school…if I’m dishonorably discharged, I lose the GI Bill.”
“You don’t need school. Raise your children.”
“Dammit if you do this I’ll turn you in, I swear.”
“Look, I’ll order prenatal vitamins. Everything will be fine.”