Please read the beginning of this story as shown within the “Afghanistan Story” tab above.
Afghanistan, June 2010, Camp Delaram
My most favorite time of the day is between 0300 and 0400 in the morning. In America, it is quiet; the roads are empty, the dew begins to form as the moisture in the air chills to its coldest point and settles on the leaves. Everyone is asleep and you are awake with the quiet and your thoughts.
In the summertime desert, that time of day is perfect. It is the coldest that it will be that day, and desert cold is crisp and clear. The air smells faintly of dust, but it’s a clean dust, undisturbed by sweat and heat. Hot day dust is damaged and an active swirl of destruction; cold morning dust is clean and calm.
The Afghanistan 0300 sky is very different from an American suburbia’s 0300 sky. In America, it is pitch black and quiet. In Afghanistan, the sky begins to lighten at 0300 in shades of brighter and brighter purples and pinks, fading into oranges and yellows. The sky will become completely filled with the sun by 0500 and will remain filled with sun unrelenting in its heat and strength until 1900 or so.
The horizon of where I was in Afghanistan, on Camp Delaram, was unmarred with any physical obstructions such as buildings or trees. Only on really clear days, I could see rock covered mountains in one direction far in the distance. Otherwise, the sky was completely open and vulnerable to me at 0300. The colors filled the sky and I would watch in awe, until the sun broke the horizon and I could no longer look.
Typically, I would leave work and head to breakfast immediately before the sun rose so that it would warm my back as I walked to the chow hall. By the time I was done with breakfast, the harsh and extremely bright sun would be in full force on the desert. My first night on night shift, I walked to breakfast alone.
William saw me come into the tent that housed tables and chairs in a “lunchroom” style and waved me over. Glad to not eat alone after my encounter with Ski only hours prior, I walked over in relief.
“So who is Amy’s mother?”
“She is someone I was dating and got pregnant. She became crazy once she was pregnant and started doing weird things like sitting in her car outside of my house and insisting that we were together. The whole thing was a mistake. But Amy is amazing. I only want more children.”
“So she has Amy?”
“My family takes care of Amy when Cynthia doesn’t have her.”
“Why didn’t you stay with Cynthia?”
“My mother doesn’t like her and she honestly acted so crazy. I am trying to get full custody, hence why I’m here in Afghanistan, to get enough money and give Amy a good life. I bought a house in Arizona. It needs a womanly touch.”
William gave me a pointed look. I laughed.
“Well, I have been told that I make things very home-y.”
We finished eating together and walked back to the compound. I had a few more hours on my shift and his would start soon.
“Hey, grab me before you leave to go to sleep and I’ll walk you back.”
Gratefully, I nodded and left him on the porch as I walked towards my work tent.
I spent the rest of my shift thinking about what would happen when he walked me back to my very isolated tent at the back corner of the camp. Would he kiss me? There was no denying that we were attracted to one another. I could tell by the way he looked at me the night I had arrived at the base and with how I leaned into his chest during the mortar attack.
Practically shaking, I walked up to his building and knocked on the door. He popped out and brightly asked if I was ready to sleep.
“Yeah, I didn’t sleep at all yesterday during my four hour warning on the abrupt change to night shift.”
As we walked to my tent, I filled him in on what had transpired between Ski and I.
“So you weren’t fucking him?”
“No, Jesus, does everyone think that?”
“Don’t say the Lord’s name in vain. He doesn’t like it.”
He grinned at me. Not knowing if he was serious, I kept walking.
“All of these tents are empty. I think they wanted to make sure the two of us were very isolated from the men.”
William looked around in surprise.
“All of these tents are empty?”
He went to the closest one and threw the door open. He gestured at me to follow him as he stepped in. Here it is, this is it. And who cares? If everyone thinks I’m fucking everyone, I might as well enjoy it.
I walked in and glanced around quickly before the door swung closed and shut out all light. There were bunk beds clearly unused in random areas of the tent. William was standing in the middle, watching me.
In silence, he walked toward me, stopping centimeters from me. He was a foot taller than me, even when I was wearing my combat boots. I felt like a child next to him. He bent down and kissed me hungrily. I kissed him back and we exploded in a flurry of physical touching and exploring each other’s bodies. He bent down and picked me up and I wrapped my legs around him.
“Are you on birth control?”
As he carried me over to one of the beds, I completely stopped thinking and I enjoyed it all.
“I’m going to get you pregnant.”
I was so caught up in the moment and the feel of him that what he said didn’t register on any level but a very primal level. It turned me on and I didn’t react until seconds later and it was too late. When he came, filling me up, I was immediately horrified.
“William, I’m not on birth control!”
“You said you wanted babies.”
“Like, in a year or so, NOT IN THE MIDDLE OF A COMBAT ZONE!”
“I said I was going to get you pregnant. You seemed to like it.”
“I like it when you call me that. A lot of people shorten my name to Will but you always call me ‘William’.”
He grinned at me.
Shaking, I pulled my pants back up. My boots had never made it off. Tucking in my shirt, I grabbed my rifle from where it had fallen to the ground in the middle of the passion.
Without speaking, part murderous, part terrified, and with my body still turned on and breathless, I left the tent, exposed in the harsh and bright sun.