Jane barreled up the highway—if that is what you would call it. The road was definitely there—but it was continually being washed over by the sands that constantly blew across its path. The desert was brutal like that. The strong rays of the sun didn’t help either, her not quite dark enough sun glasses would have to do, although she had a few opinions about the smart-ass that labeled them “standard issue desert eyegear”. Apparently they had never been out in the desert, in the middle of the day, having their corneas seared from the glare of the sun bouncing off the sand. If she ever found out who the smart-ass was, she would be sure to have a few polite words.
Despite having too much windshield time to think about these less than trivial things, she knew she had an important mission—leading the caravan of trucks that brought logistical supplies to the the men in the field. In essence, she led the lifeline that kept these men going in this god-forsaken war. Not that she was against the war—she was thrilled when her country called upon her that she could be there. She just wanted to be on the front lines, not behind the steering wheel of a day cab hauling much needed supplies and whatever else one could think of. Yet here she was, and what she did mattered.
Within minutes, she could see the next stop insight. She pulled out her binoculars to make sure she could identify them, then she radioed back to the rest of her caravan that they were on approach. As she pulled into stop, she was greeted by some of the uniform’s hardest and finest working soldiers in the field. Knowing they were desperate to eat the fresh MRE’s on board, so she wasted no time organizing the efforts to unload. In the most orderly fashion, the supplies for this stop came off the truck a little quicker than they went on. Her orders were to refuel, and stay there for the night, moving on to the next stop at 07:00 in the morning.
Setting up camp did not take long. It was the desert. You either slept in the vehicle or dug a spot in the sand. Tonight would be cool, but she couldn’t take another second inside that truck, so she made her bed. Knowing the boys that were regularly stationed there would take turns being on lookout…she spread out her makeshift cot and a thin standard issue blanket, got as cozy as one could in her situation and counted the stars as she drifted off to sleep.
She sat straight up. Nothing quite wakes a woman up out of a sound desert floor sleep, like a bunch of men running around, shouting back and forth as they are taking on fire. Jane reached for her weapon, at the ready, she shouted out to the rifleman closest to her, but he motioned her to stay down and out of sight. Damn. All she really wanted was to be a part of the action. Laying in wait, was not her style. They took on heavy fire—and she could see off to her left that one of the men had been hit. Also being trained as a medic—she shouted back to that rifleman that she would bring supplies over to help him out. He somehow signaled the okay, and Jane ran to the back of her truck, grabbed a bunch of medical supplies and then made her way over to the injured soldier.
First she pulled him to a lower lying area, and looked at his wounds. He was hit in the stomach and the leg. While the leg injury could be contained, there was no way for her to know if that bullet to the stomach hit any organs or was causing any internal bleeding. She did what she could with his leg and put some firm pressure on his abdomen. He was with her every step of the way—and she knew he was fighting, not giving up. A great sign. Then they called her over another direction. Another soldier had been hit. This time she arrived to see the bullet firmly lodged in his skull and there was nothing she could do for him, but close his eyes and say a prayer.
She realized she was in harms way. Being dark, she had no idea if she was taking on friendly fire or enemy fire. She kept low, weapon by her side and raced over toward an ATV. She paused by the passenger front wheel, realizing this was shielding her from some of the bullets whizzing by her head—but also putting her life in danger, as one strike to the gas tank, would undoubtedly blow her up along with the ATV. An uneasy feeling—but for now she was safe. A few soldiers, made their way over to the ATV. Told her to get inside and stay low. The commander took the wheel, two men in the back pointing forward shooting at an unseen enemy. Jane in the front passenger seat, leaning over toward the center trying to stay low. She wanted to sit up and fire her weapon—but noooo—the commander wanted to keep her safe. What the hell? She thought. She knew her job was important—driving the lead truck on the supply caravan—but come on already. She could fire her weapon just as well as any man. Highly skilled, well trained—but the commander had no idea about her skills as she was part of the supply team and he was going to keep her safe. Damn it!! This is why she joined the Army…she wanted in on the action. It didn’t quite seem fair. But she wasn’t about to disobey now.
From what she could tell, they were advancing and the enemy was retreating. Then the firing seemed to come to a halt. A sigh of relief over came the four in the ATV, and only when she sat up did she see they were following a line of tanks. No wonder the firing stopped she thought to herself, the bad boys were just ahead of them demolishing the enemy line. But they kept advancing, ever so slowly, something she was sure that would make the enemy regret their advances in the first place.
The first bullet sounded surreal—as it penetrated the sharp shooter sitting directly behind her. She quickly glanced at her passenger mirror and realized they were being flanked from behind. “Enemy approaching from behind Sir!” she shouted as the commander’s hand pushed her head down and out of the way once again. He radioed to gather support to fight the enemy taking up the rear, and the uninjured sharp shooter went to work-defending their position. The second bullet took out their communications and shattered their radio, spraying shrapnel everywhere. Feeling the hit from that blow, she turned her head toward the back seat, and came face to face with the injured sharp shooter. Realizing his wound was not a life threatening wound, she quickly grabbed his shirt, tore it off and tied it the best she could around his shoulder to put pressure on the bleeding.
“You’re going to live,” she tried to reassure him.
“So are you,” his voice was calm and even.
What the heck was he thinking? Of course she was going to live. Was he making a statement because she was a woman or because he thought he was infallible? She didn’t rightly care. How dare he tell her she was going to live—she already knew that. Just as the thought crossed her mind, she felt her face flush and her head began to swell, and she didn’t like the feeling overcoming her—then she seen the blood dripping from somewhere all over her standard issue sleeve. Had she been shot? Before she could answer herself, the lights dimmed out.
Jane woke a few hours or so later in the medical tent. She felt the burning of the antiseptic as it seared the wound on her face, and then she realized a medic was giving her stitches. Carefully moving from one section to the next, the medic pulled out the shrapnel that had embedded itself in her skin, poured on the burning antiseptic and stitched some more. Jane was convinced this line of torture would resurrect the deadest of the dead. Damn… that stuff was strong.
“Ah you’re awake” the medic said smiling.
“Where am I?” Jane inquired.
“Medical Tent”. He answered.
“What happened?” Still a bit groggy.
“Why don’t you tell me?” the medic asked.
“Well—that would be hard, seeing that I don’t remember anything since I passed out.” She said a bit sarcastically.
That got the medic to laugh at her, “I can see you’re a bit feisty Jane. Definitely a good sign.”
A voice came in from behind her, “They hit our radio. The blast caused the shrapnel to fly everywhere.” he walked around and she noticed the sling on his shoulder. “Unfortunately, some of it got embedded in your face. And as far as faces go—they like to bleed a lot.”
She looked down at her shirt— Yeah, it was going to take some effort to get all that blood out of her shirt.
“Yes,” replied the medic, “And I have the painstaking task of making sure we remove it all and get you stitched up. You’re due out at 07:00 and that doesn’t leave much time.”
She swallowed. A battle scar. She never thought she would see action driving a supply truck. Damn. She had not realized she had been hit at the time it happened. She wondered how they made it out of there. Then she remembered, she had not even shot her weapon. This just about infuriated Jane. It was her first time being in the middle of enemy fired and she was pretty sure it wouldn’t be her last. Still the commander insisted on keeping her safe. Oh how she’d like to have a few words with that man.
About a half hour later, the medic finished up a few last stitches. 27 in all. He brought over a mirror and she had a hard look at her self.
Her once pretty face—now had a nice scar in the shape of the letter J. Fitting, she thought. She tried to smile—and winced a little from the pain. Maybe later she could look at herself again, as she lay the mirror down, she quickly admitted that the Commander knew what he was doing. “I have a job to do,” she felt the determination to do her duty rise up from within. She got up, thanked the medic. Then she shook the sharp shooter’s hand—wished him well. She recovered her weapon and made her way back to the truck. She had orders to move on to her next stop so she fired up the truck and led her convoy on down the sand covered highway.
After careful consideration and a few glances at herself in the rearview mirror, she decided there was still time to use her rifle. She’d been in the desert 3 months and had 12 to go and she already had a battle scar. So Cool. The stories she’ll get to share one day. She went for a weak smile…and put on her sun glasses. “It’s going to be another scorcher.”
**THIS was a fictional story written for the GBE2 prompt to “give Jane a better story”. In a nutshell, the real Jane got 27 stitches from exhaustion and dehydration from the tail end of a respiratory infection—and when she went to enjoy a glass of wine and email some friends—she found her self waking up to a broken wine glass in hand and blood trickling down her face. (Ouch). So it was up to us this week, to have a little creativity in our writing, and come up with a better story on how Jane got her scar. This was my contribution. I will say I am no military expert. I know I probably goofed a lot of the military terminology up—but use your imaginations and go with it. I hope you could see through any of the mistakes and just enjoy the story!!**