I don’t normally do creative writing, but here is a piece I wrote in 2005.
BeepBeepBeepBeep. “Shit”. He lies back down on the bed with a sigh. No matter how many years he spends in the Army, he will never get used to getting up at 4 am. He looks over at his companion who pats him sympathetically on the shoulder and then flips over onto her other side to continue sleeping. He exhales once again, throws the covers back and gently places his feet onto the carpet. He leans forward and rests his elbows on his knees while rubbing his eyes in an attempt to wake up. Standing slowly to avoid a head rush, he walks to the bathroom and turns on the light. His companion makes a noise in protest of the unwelcome brightness and he apologizes and quietly closes the door. He turns on the water and lathers shaving cream onto his darkened jaw. As he brings the razor across his face his mind begins to wander. He remembers trying to shave in the middle of the desert. It was one of the few comforts of home that he refused to give up. Shaving made him feel human in a dehumanizing place.
Blood. He cut himself. After rinsing off his face with the warm water, he reaches for a towel and pats it dry. Red stains a small section of the new towel taking away its virginity. The blood washes off easily and he hangs it over the shower rod to dry. Brushing his teeth comes next in his daily routine. Another comfort he never gave up. He brushed more over there; trying constantly to get the sand out of his teeth. The taste of the desert will never go away though. It is too engrained in his taste buds; in his memory. He will never forget those unbearably hot days or the freezing cold nights in which he risked his life fighting a war only half the people believed in. It didn’t matter what they thought, though. He was there and had to survive. That’s all he cared about over there. Survival at all costs.
He spits and rinses, knocking his toothbrush against the sink to drain out the excess water. Another desert trick. Survival against the enemy was one thing; survival against nature was another. Bacteria bred in the desert faster than rabbits in heat and the illnesses that existed were too numerous to bother counting. Clearing the toothbrush got rid of a breeding ground. It was one way to feel in control over the invisible enemy.
Darkness follows as he shuts off the bathroom light, completely engulfing him. He stands for a minute to let his eyes adjust. He hears his companion breathing steadily; a symbol that this darkness is safe. Over there, the dark was the worst time. Cold and blind. He hated worrying that his fingers were too cold to pull the trigger fast enough. He liked being able to see the enemy through his scope and verify his target. The night vision goggles were accurate, but he trusted his own vision better. His eyes had adjusted to the room and he found his uniform. He climbed into it slowly, quietly, trying to let her sleep. She wakes anyway, sensing that he is leaving. Reaching out, she gathers him in her arms and whispers in his ear, ‘come back”. He smiles and holds her tighter. “I will. I always will.”