She sighed as her back slid down the wall, and she hit the ground with a thump. She struggled to believe she was still in the same country, the pristine white walls looked starkly different to the war-torn village she’d been in just hours earlier.
Today they’d lost a team member, another child lost to this endless war. Tom was barely into his twenties, and was never going to return home. Another two members of her team had been seriously injured and rushed off to the field hospital as soon as they returned.
The mission was supposed to be low-risk, a simple extraction of a soldier from a forward operating base. They’d completed missions like that hundreds of times in the last two years and were familiar with the air routes they had taken.
Her team was familiar with each other and comfortable with the task, and any apprehension about these missions had faded away over the last two years. She didn’t think anything was out of place when they left, their helicopter was fully serviceable and her team was well rested.
Nothing was supposed to go wrong.
How was she now supposed to go on knowing that Tom had been killed on her watch? He was her responsibility, and she couldn’t save him. She had barely gotten the rest of her team out alive, and even then they had only just made it back to HQ.
The fan blew in her face as she replayed the day’s events over and over in her mind. They had never prepared her for the loss that came from losing a team member on the front line and watching the life fade from their eyes.
Although the thought of crawling into her bunk and never coming out was quite appealing right now, she knew she couldn’t. Tonight they would need her to run more missions, there were always more people to help, and she was desperately needed. The world didn’t stop running when you were dealing with loss, and the least she could do was go back out there and face the world.
For now, she couldn’t let Tom’s death consume her, one day she would have to deal with the grief, but not today. She knew that when she finally returned home in a month’s time she would have to start processing the pain and loss she felt this morning, but that wasn’t a priority right now.
Slowly, she lifted her aching body off the ground, grabbed her weapon and bag, and headed out the door. She needed to get some sleep before tomorrow morning’s mission.
Kate Campbell is young adult living in country Australia, who finished high school a few years ago, and is currently finding her feet in the world. She enjoys travel, adventures, reading, drinking tea, farmers markets and writing. You can find her website HERE or you can visit her on Facebook HERE.