Gabriel Luera

U S Army

Sooner or later you learn to forget about the simple things. Things like what day it is, and where you are. After a while that gets easy and you learn to forget bigger things. It’s almost like taking drugs, addictive. Things like directions to your own home, how old you are, or how to communicate without shouting. Things that you will eventually need later on you leave and bury deep in whatever sub conscious pit you can find. At that point you’re happy. You’re happy that you can go on in a place of suffering and not realize it. You forget. The only important things are the sounds of life around you. The sound of death stalking you, and the chatters of gun fire in the background. After that you get scared and wonder if you are ever going to get it all back. You even wonder if you are going to get any of it back. You wonder if you are ever going to be yourself again. Then you forget you’re scared. When they say, these things will change a person they never tell you how much. Then as time goes on, you start to ignore the explosions and gunfire to come to the realization that you have forgotten how to be you. The fact that you could catch a stray round or a mortar in your teeth doesn’t scare you anymore, but the fact that you can’t remember how to be you will scare you beyond all belief.

At nights you walk in the darkness like a shadow with no physical counterpart, walking like a ghost in a dying world. Shallow, empty, lonely, nothing but the stars and moon above and the sound of wild dogs in the background fighting. Everything fights out here. The smell of dust and burning oil in the air clogging your nose and filling your mouth no longer is a concern. Walking with the weight of body armor and a weapon on your back through an endless wasteland, sometimes the brain will kick in and realize everything you have forgotten. Like a bucket of cold water it will hit, filling you with sorrow. You realize where you have been for the last year. The sicknesses of wishing you were home next to your loved ones fills you body and your emotions go into overdrive to catch up with their loss of time. You end up stopping in your tracks looking at stars wondering if your loved ones at home are looking at the same stars in their darkness of night. Wondering if they are the same people that you remember when you left. They never will be, and neither will you.

Slowly you will fight the emotions back into submission and you will try to move on to do whatever you were doing. The battle is more fierce and violent than any battle out in the wastelands that you are in. You try to fight the feelings and end up forcing yourself back into the place you didn’t want to be. You find peace in ignorance that you wouldn’t find in the place you just tried to flee. You retreat, back to the forgetfulness that has consumed you in the past year, back to the ignorance of it all. It’s just safer for you there, nothing to make you homesick, nothing to scare you. No matter how much you try to dismiss it, the thought of going home will terrify you more than staying here.

For one year, 365 days, you have been living out of a bag with no real place to lay your head every night. For that year you have been shot at, had mortars thrown at you, slept with the sounds of gun fire in the background. You have slept in anyplace imaginable just to try to escape for the few moments you are unconscious to the surrounding world. You have fought the heat of summer and the cold of winter with nothing more than the clothes on your back. You have fought the spiders, bugs, lizards and scorpions of a brutal plane with nothing than the boots on your feet. But during all this you have never cried, or remember how to, because in that long list of things you have forgotten, crying is on the top. Any expression of feelings, which are not violent, have been erased and purged from your thoughts. As much as you try to, all it does is intensify the pain, the only reason you would try such a thing in your entire life you are unable to. The only reason you would even try is to find out if you are still human, because again it’s something you have forgotten. For some reason that pain hurts more than any injury you could sustain in this harsh environment. You would rather be tortured and beaten instead of feeling that pain. Another thing forgot and buried in a horrible place.

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