I didn’t do the rounds tonight. Didn’t have to. I was the one in charge so I made a Private do it. I was busy, anyway, had to tidy up and pack. I found a garbage bag and threw out the remains from the fridge, the dinner we’d left on the table, the stuff from the room we shared. There were a couple cans of beer left but I didn’t drink them.
As I pulled Tom’s clothes off the shelves, making a square stack, I wondered where I ought to send it, if anyone would ask for him. I dug through his duffle bag, looking for clues of his previous life but there were no photos, no letters, just an old blue Yankee hat. Under the brim, scribbled in black was the name Davie, a person Tom had never mentioned. Perhaps a brother, a son, a memory he could’ve fought for.
I wiped the dried blood off the dog tag I’d unclipped from his neck, placed it in the hat and slid it carefully into the duffel bag. Tomorrow I would give it to the Major and explain the story.
I’d saved a woman, the others too, their disbelief of answered prayers, as I untied them and left the hut, dragging Tom’s body to the nearest shrub and covering him with a blanket. I’d sat there for a while, slumped against a rock, sweat trickling down my forehead and into my mouth as the stars above cast their judgment. And then I’d made my way back to the bunker, with the half-moon glowing above me, and didn’t look back.
As I lay in bed, waiting for the sun to rise, I pulled out the photo. The other one, discolored and folded at the corner. It was taken a few months after our wedding, on a blanket in the backyard, the day Cheryl found out she was pregnant. We were lying there intertwined, looking up at the sky. In her hair was a daffodil, a yellow one that matched her long braids. She used to do that, pull flowers from the garden and tuck them behind her ear. Always wanted to look pretty for me, and only now I noticed it. The flowers made everything shine, her hair, her sweet song eyes, her smile looking right at me. I smiled back, seeing it all like I never had before and nothing would ever make me stop.
Sarka Kocicka was born in Brno, Czech Republic, raised in Toronto then moved to Vancouver, New York, Seoul, Tampa, Singapore and now Bali with her husband and 16 month-old daughter. She studied International Relations at the University of British Columbia and toured internationally as a musician and theatre performer but her true passion is writing and sharing her globetrotting adventures.