A Good Night’s Sleep

A click of a lower receiver detaching from the upper receiver
Sand pours out
Every piece of the weapon covered in grit 
I scrub and scrub and it never comes clean 

Looking up there’s fifteen to go
That’s the only way to get respect around here
Be useful 
So I clean their stuff too
That’s what women are for...scrubbing on hands and knees in dirt

And fucking 

The rest of the platoon sits in chairs 
Watching my every move
They laugh and joke around
Oblivious to my discomfort
Or delighting in it? 
Seeking refuge in each other 

All of the weapons are laid out 
Broken apart
But the bolt carriers, firing pins
They turn to bright prices of plastic as I touch them
And mixed up
Does this charging handle go to this serial?
Or this?
I try to fit the weapons back together but the plastic parts are too soft,
Too big in my hands.

Everyone turns to watch me struggle 
Their impatience with me grows as their chatter shrinks
I begin to cry 
Terrified that they will see the moon dust tracks down my cheeks
Cammie sleeve smearing the dirt
Hands shaking
I stand

“Who told?”

Everyone averts their eyes
Except for the small one in the back
He raises his hand slowly...
And I lose it

And none of you helped? You knew and did nothing?
Horrible hot tears fall
My voice is shaky...shrieking
That’s not what a Marine sounds like

That is a little girl.

How could you sit there and do nothing?
How can you sit there still and watch me cry and do nothing? 
Why don’t you care? 
Silence in the room but for my sobs
Faces full of irritation or confusion

I was raped
Bryce knew! He saw, why doesn’t anyone believe me? I’m crying,
God, someone just do something 

The lieutenant stands
Anger coloring his face 
Shut up, Marine. Crying isn’t going to make us like you any more. 
We aren’t going to feel sorry for you with your blubbering. 
You want to prove yourself? 
Be worthy of us giving a fuck?
Blouses off

He starts to unbutton his top
I turn numb
He takes the stance
Marines don’t mind getting punched in the face
Maybe you’ll be a real Marine 

I don’t want to fight
But this anger of mine is hot
Expanding in my chest
If anger could hone skill, I would win
If will toppled clumsiness, he would be tapping in seconds

I want to feel his life drain from his body 
Anger as a force
To overcome boot belts
My fingers ache to crush his throat
I’m about to die at the hands of a friendly 
Green on green assault 
Pink and purple firing pins and charging handles scattered at my feet

He lunges at me 
Knocks me to my back
Cracking my head on the sand
There’s no breath in my lungs
I struggle to inhale 
Inhale the fumes of diesel, dust, and death

Looking up I see the MATV
Covered in blood and bones
I’ll be useful here
Cleaning again 
Bottles of water and a broom
Blood on my cammies
Moon dust turned to rust

The blood doesn’t stop coming 
No matter how much I scrub it’s there
Bone shards prickling my hands 
Largest one the size of a quarter 
Placed in my pockets until I can’t carry anymore

His screams fill my ears
Or are they mine?

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