Please read the beginning of this story as shown within the “Afghanistan Story” tab above.
Afghanistan, June 2010, Camp Delaram
I waved to Sgt P as he climbed back into the MATV to leave Delaram.
“We make trash runs here occasionally and drop by to get food or water. I’m sure I’ll see you around.”
He grinned at me and I smiled back at him.
Seeing those MATVs leave felt like I was seeing my family drive off after dropping me on the side of the road. I felt closer to them than any stuck up Marines from RCT-2. Virkler and I were becoming fast friends, of course, but his friendship with Ski made me wary. Sgt. P and the guys had no connections to anyone else I knew. They were not from my past or my present. The grunts were like an oasis from the shitty deployment that I had experienced thus far. I couldn’t wait to see them again.
As Virkler and I walked up to the compound to report back into Staff Sergeant Rambo, I became tense. Will would be around, I was sure, smoking his cigarettes and grinning at me as I walked up. Of course, he was. He always was. As we walked past, he motioned for me to come over.
“I have to check in!”
I yelled and kept walking, looking at the ground as I passed him. When Virkler and I entered the tent, things looked the same as usual. There were Marines sitting around and fiddling with equipment. Everyone ran to Virkler and asked him about the trip, ignoring me. As the Marines all smacked Virkler on the arm and bugged him for all of the details from the patrols, he was reaccepted into their fold.
“Checking in, Staff Sergeant.”
“How did it go out there? Everything good?”
“Yeah, it went great.”
“Good, it seemed like an easy fix for you guys.”
“How were the grunts? I didn’t want to send you out there.”
“Oh, they were great. Seriously. I loved it.”
“Did you do anything dangerous?”
“No, Staff Sergeant.”
“Good. No sense in putting yourself in danger out there.”
“Don’t be afraid to send me back out, Staff Sergeant. I’m a Marine just like any of the others.”
“You’ll probably be needed. If that went well, then I could use you on a few more things coming up. But no promises. You’re still not supposed to be outside the wire.”
“Yes, Staff Sergeant. Thank you.”
“You’re back on night shift tonight with Virkler. Go grab some sleep.”
I passed the word along to Virkler before heading out. He would stay to talk to the other guys. I, however, was bone tired and dreaded the conversation I would have to have with Will.
“Hey, how did it go?”
“Great. It was great.”
“Good. Knew it would be simple for you.”
No sense in telling anyone about the near death experiences and horrific scenes of torture, right? Just push everything down.
“I’ve missed my period.”
Will’s face lit up with excitement as he grabbed my arms.
“Are you serious? This is fantastic! Plus, I knew it. I’m great at making babies.”
“What? No, it’s not fantastic. I could be pregnant. I have three and a half more months out here…you know, in a combat zone.”
“You’ll just go home immediately.”
I was stunned. The quickness and simplicity with which he answered shocked me. This huge life changing thing was being treated as a blasé and almost planned event to someone I had known a month.
“Will, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. This isn’t okay. Me going home isn’t okay. I won’t even have a home.”
“Look, I’ll order some tests. We’ll know for sure soon.”
“You’ll order them? That won’t look suspicious? A male contractor ordering pregnancy tests?”
“They don’t check our mail, sweetheart.”
He was so smug.
When I got to my can, I grabbed my shower stuff, made the trek to the spotless showers, and scrubbed down quickly, avoiding the wounds on my hips. I felt a billion pounds lighter only carrying my rifle and shampoo. No flak and Kevlar. No ammunition. No patrols.
I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. I had no dreams but there was a vague sensation of how I felt when Sgt. P smiled at me before he left.
When I woke up, I went to work unhappily in reality. My concern about being pregnant was going to be delayed for a few weeks at the earliest. Mail was ridiculously slow in Afghanistan. I hadn’t received any mail in the two months I had been on Delaram. Either people weren’t sending me anything or the mail was being held on Camp Leatherneck. Either way, I knew the packages that I had ordered while on Camp Leatherneck, a major Marine base, had taken 4-6 weeks to arrive from everywhere. So I went to work thinking through all of the possible logistics of being pregnant but only hypothetically, because there was no proof…just dread. I was forced to be patient.
Imagine my surprise when Will approached me with a small brown package less than a week later.
“How the heck did it get here so quickly?”
“It was just fast.”
This is impossible. Did he order them from Leatherneck? The British are at Camp Bastion right next to Leatherneck. Maybe they have a different view on pregnancy than the American military and keep these things handy. There IS the British hospital there. That’s probably it. That has to be it. But how did he get someone there to send them?
Tons of red flags began to form but I shoved them down. I had the answer to my dreaded question in the small brown box in my hands. All I had to do was find out for certain what I already sensed was true.
“I got a few different types. Sometimes they don’t always come up positive on the first go.”
“Then I guess I’ll go find out.”
“Have to pee already? You should probably wait until you first wake up. The hormones are more concentrated in your urine then.”
“I’m going now.”
We walked off to the first bathroom I could find. It was a tent with two rows of toilets in the center. Each toilet was elevated over a foot into the air on a weird wooden platform and separated by canvas flaps. There were no doors to the “stalls.”
I climbed up onto the platform and sat on the toilet. I felt like I was on a giant throne in that elevated position. I opened the package and pulled out the first pregnancy test I could see. There were four tests…and two bottles of prenatal vitamins.
My hands shook as I opened the test. As I peed, I looked down at the test in my shaking hand. The plus sign appeared within three seconds.
Emotions collided in me.
I’m pregnant! I’m having a baby! This is all I ever wanted! Oh god a squishy baby with rolls like Amy has. A baby to love and raise and…I’m married. To someone who doesn’t want to raise another man’s child. And I’m in a fucking combat zone for three more months! How do I hide this so I’m not charged and arrested? How do I protect this baby? What if I’m shot at again? Well, hell, she made it through a few other shitty times. She’s already a badass! She has to be a she. Amy would want a sister. How the hell am I going to do this?
I scrambled to get everything together before dashing out to Will.
He grabbed me in a giant hug and swung me around.
“This is great! I knew it. Just you wait. I make awesome babies.”
“This is so…amazing.”
He was smiling down at me, holding me close and squeezing me.
“Well, you have to start taking those vitamins immediately. And eat healthy. And drink lots of water. And sleep.”
And not be in a combat zone.
I fell asleep grinning.
Push it down. Push everything bad down.