Rejoice In Thy Youth

When you come close to it, you realise that this isn’t what you’re really afraid of. Death isn’t the most frightening of prospects to face. You’ve yet to face that place you daren’t go. Scotty Bryson nodded to me and smiled before a bullet took half his head away. The clip would rewind and playback for me every morning.
+++++I’m up and trying to breathe like I always do in the morning. I’m like a child whose nightmares are new and alien to him.
+++++“Damo. Damo.”
+++++Her hand soothes me; my breathing slows.
+++++“I need to do something about it, Sarah. It’s been four months and I still see him.”
+++++“Scott? The dead one?”
+++++“Yeah, Scott.”
+++++Two other guys were killed that day. One while he was dragging Scott’s corpse; and the other in an explosion, an hour later.
+++++We both talked about the incident and she would talk about hers. That’s how we met; at a trauma group. ‘Coping with Trauma’ it was called. We introduced ourselves, which I thought was the normal thing to do in these groups, and we got a round of applause for taking the first step. Recognising the problem.
+++++I’d snap at people for no reason. Why should I give them my time? They didn’t appreciate the stress and trauma we soldiers put up with. They complained at the smallest of things, things so infinitesimal to be of no consequence.
+++++Look at the world. No – I mean, really take a look at the world – as a child does. I would take in the sunrise every morning and let its rays baptise me. Sarah and I would take the walk on the beach hand in hand and let the sluice of the sea embrace our legs.
+++++Sarah had the rare and unusual experience of witnessing her immediate family burn before her eyes. Those images, cauterised into her mind. Climbing over the back of the seat to attend to Sophie, her 2-year-old daughter, saved her; she was thrown clear of the accident as the vehicle spun. Had she closed her eyes, that wouldn’t have spared her their howls of agony.
+++++The revelation came when she suggested we should try for a child. A chance to counter the trauma with the trauma of childbirth. It was a form of exorcism. This little being would come down from wherever to take on the task of burning off the bad memories.
+++++“What’s the worst thing you can think of, Damo?” she asks me, after we’ve made love.
+++++I’m lying, head nestled between her shoulder blades, gazing at her gently-rounded buttocks. “Losing you, I suppose. I’d be lost without you.”
+++++“Like a feather in a hurricane?”
+++++“Like a feather in a hurricane.”