Please read the beginning of this story as shown within the “Afghanistan Story” tab above.
Afghanistan, July 2010, Camp Delaram
I leaned back in the roll-y chair and put my boots up onto the table, shifting back and forth to try and find a good position to bring some feeling back into my ass. I pressed my computer’s space bar, which un-paused VLC Player, and began watching the next episode of Weeds. The two wiremen on night watch were huddled together in the corner behind me, ignoring me. One of the men was a Sergeant, the Marine Corps Martial Arts instructor I had bitten in the first few weeks of my time on Delaram. Ever since I had bitten him, he had gone out of his way to avoid me, even when we worked directly together on a project.
He is sitting awfully close to his Lance Corporal for such a large room. I wonder…
My mind dismissed the next thought in my head and I focused on ignoring my own deteriorating life instead. Weeds was good for mindless binging of other people’s bad decisions. If I thought too much about where I was in experiencing the unfolding of my decisions, I would have a panic attack.
My browser window began to flash. My heart rate spiked and I looked at the computer’s clock.
It’s 2200. It can’t be Will. He should be asleep. But he’s the only one who messages me?
Confused, I braced myself, swallowed hard, and opened up the browser tab.
HEY! HOW HAVE YOU BEEN?!
The cheerily typed tone was from one of my Lance Corporals. Norred had deployed with me from America and had also been placed on the Georgian liaison team. However, he, as a male, had been sent out to another forward operating base (FOB) with the Georgians while I remained on Delaram. I hadn’t heard from him in months.
I’m alive. How are you?
I’m good. It’s crazy out here. Half the time we walk around in silkies. No one gives a fuck.
Is it safe?
We have some mortar fire occasionally. There was an incident a few weeks ago but it’s fine. What about you?
He was replying too quickly. He was excited to have access to the Internet and to talk to a friend who spoke English. But his replies were too cheerful and happy and I wanted to reach through the computer and choke him.
NO, NORRED, MY LIFE IS SHIT AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I AM DOING AND I FUCKED UP AND I COULD GO TO JAIL AND I HAVE TO ACT LIKE I’M FINE 24/7 EVEN THOUGH I WANT TO PUKE AND SLEEP AND CRY AND…
My fingers were posed over the keyboard…
Do I tell him?
As more responses came flooding in, I shook my head and placed my hands in my lap to wait for the barrage to end.
Did you hear about Cash?
She was pregnant. They medevac’ed her.
HOLY. SHIT. She was pregnant? I’m not the only one? I need more details without giving myself away.
She was pregnant?
Yeah, man, they medevac’ed her in May.
Did she get into trouble?
Nah, dude, she was seven months pregnant.
Seven months pregnant? How the fuck didn’t she know?
All of the girls are lined up before deployment and tested for pregnancy. I remembered holding my cup of pee in my hands in front of all of the men and walking up to the Navy corpsman in a giant warehouse to see him openly test my pee. I had tried to hide everyone’s view of the doc as he dipped the pregnancy test into my still warm cup of pee. It horrified me then. What if I was pregnant? I would be told by a doc in front of 100 crass and rude men and perpetuate the idea that female Marines get pregnant to get out of deployment? Fuck. That. No wonder she didn’t go through the pee gauntlet.
Yeah, remember that asshole from the G-6? Tim? He’s the father.
My heart went cold.
Tim. My Tim?
Are you sure?
I did the math rapidly in my head.
Seven months…that means she got pregnant in…October? November?
Things had been weird with Tim then. He would go back and forth with me, yanking me around, being sweet and then ignoring me for a few days. He had always said Sam Cash was just a girl who was obsessed with him and wouldn’t leave him alone. It made me hate her for bugging him. In fact, I had been so fed up with the awkwardness when I would see her that I had approached her outside of the internet café on Camp Leatherneck in March.
She terrified me. She was tall and thin with dark hair and had a gaze that was clearly telling me to go fuck myself. She stood with two other female Marines I didn’t know.
“Do you mind if I talk to you?”
The other girls took a hint and walked away.
“So, we’ve never met, or talked, really, and I just wanted to…you know…meet you. Because things feel weird, and I know you’re friends with Tim and…”
I trailed off, hoping that she would help me along with my grand attempt at “being the bigger person.”
She stared at me like I was a disgusting piece of trash.
“Yes, we are friends. And you are married.”
“I want nothing to do with you.”
She practically spat at me.
She turned and left me standing by myself outside the Internet café.
Thinking back now on how my face had burned with embarrassment when she walked away, I wondered if she had known that she was pregnant then. Based on her reaction, I would guess so. Her hatred of me had been palpable.
Yeah, I’m sure.
Hey, Norred, I have to go. Something went down across base. TTYL.
I quickly closed the tab before he could respond.
Bolting to my feet, my roll-y chair shot across the room and banged into the wall behind me. The wiremen looked up in shock as I dashed out of the room. I went into the server farm and pulled the phone into my lap. I pulled my notebook out of my cargo pocket and rapidly dialed the call center’s phone number and another phone number I had written in the notebook’s margins.
“Hey, Tim, it’s Savannah.”
“I figured by the fact I don’t know anyone in Indiana.”
“How have you been?”
“Things are shitty.”
“You stopped emailing.”
“So did you.”
“You know how it is out here.”
There was an awkward silence. He and I had exchanged a few emails while I was on Camp Leatherneck but the distance proved to be too much. I still had the sexy pictures he had emailed me printed out and stuffed into my bag. He had posed shirtless in front of the newly painted baby blue walls that we had picked out together.
“I heard about Cash.”
“Is it yours?”
“She says so.”
“Did you not get a paternity test?”
“Tim, she got pregnant when you and I were….”
He was so quick to say that.
“Well, did you fuck her?”
He was silent. I tried to play it cool, like my heart wasn’t breaking.
“When was it born?”
“July 8th. It’s a girl.”
I said it bitterly and fell silent. He said nothing.
Play it cool.
“What’s her name?”
“RIGHT?! How weird is that? I call her Ghouls. Sam hates it.”
I laughed bitterly again, imagining Cash’s death glare as Tim mocked the name she had chosen.
I got the information I needed. I knew that when I hung up the phone, that would be it between he and I.
I set the phone down and bitterly cried into my hands.