Heat weighed her down like lead on her shoulders; relentless and unforgiving as the suns rays followed her, stalking her every move!
There was no relief, no tree tall enough to provide shelter, only dry brown scrub and there was no summer breeze to dry and cool the sweat that clung to her skin.
Despite having her hair up, loose strands clung to her neck and face like leeches sucking the last drops of blood from her dehydrated vessels.
It was the wet season and the air was thick and still, just like when she used her Bowie knife to slice open a pigs heart and spill out the hot thick blood that had once gave it life.
Muscles ached as she lifted and pulled one leg in front of the other. Her combat boots heavy with sweat, thudding and crunching on the parched red earth.
Her arms felt numb from carrying the rifle. The back pack and medical gear strapped to her body felt like bags of cement as she pushed forward.
Sweat dripped down her face. It dripped from her eyelashes as she tried to blink it away. Stinging and blinding her as she walked towards the camp. Her mind was empty. No thoughts only heat pounding onto her…relentless and unforgiving was the outback.
It had been a solid week of training out in the scrub. The only thing that had kept them standing at this point was the fact that they were going home. Home to cold showers, a soft bed, a hot meal and icy cold beers.
Exhausted, fatigued and dehydrated the slap on her shoulder nearly knocked her over. She hardly heard the voice of her Sergeant as he came up beside her. Her dull green eyes from fatigue just barely able to look to him.
“You did well this week Corporal…you’ve come along way. When I met you, you were as rough as guts, undisciplined, a smartarse, a back talking fire cracker of a bitch. Despite your complete disregard for your appearance and sloppy presentation…you’ve turned out to be one hell of a soldier! I won’t deny I had my doubts and I wanted you out the day I met you but you’ve proven me and everyone else wrong. your a good soldier! Brave, fearless, quick, smart and relentless just like this damn fucking sun. I don’t want to see you get this position because it means I’ll be loosing one of my best. But I’m damn proud of you and I’ll be there helping you pack when you do get it. Well done Corporal James….”
Before she could thank him, not that she possessed the ability to speak, he moved on but he had seen the thanks in her eyes. The appreciation and the gratitude she felt for him never giving up on her. Instead her eyes met with Adam, her lifelong and closest friend and Ben. The man she didn’t know would betray her in just a few hours. She managed a small smile as they nodded to her in congratulations.
The night had been a blur of steaks, music, laughter, pool and the coldest, most thirst quenching beer she had ever tasted.
They had all agreed to head down to the local as soon as they hit base. Ben was tired just like all of them but he insisted she stay, have a good time, enjoy the celebrations, the prospect of a new career in the future. With a kiss on a cheek he was gone.
Time stood still.
Curtains were drawn back as Golden ringlets shimmered in the moon light as they sprawled out over her pillow. The figure under the clean white crisp sheets was voluptuous in all the right places. Her skin looked soft and supple and etched in her mind as her eyes gazed upon her bed and the two figures in it.
The thick smell of sex lingered in the room, clung to the sheets they slept in, the walls, furnishings and carpet. Now the smell seeped into her skin and lungs like a poisonous gas.
The way his arm draped over her waist as he spooned her.
The sound of their shallow and restful breaths rang out like thunder and echoed, vibrating through her head.
Time stood still
Time stood still as she stood trying to process the image through whiskey soaked eyes.
That was nearly a year ago… now she stood in an office in Ft Benning, Georgia staring down the barrel of a new career, new life and a fresh start.