Cats have nine lives, right? If mine liked me–could he give me one? Maybe?
warnings: swearing, lots of it
There’s something about waking up that I will never, ever get used to. It’s like being tugged out of the womb all over again and all I want to do is cry. When I do it this time, it’s very much like birth. I’m covered in blood. I’m crying. I don’t know where the fuck I am.
And then I see no visible wounds on myself; I feel just a throbbing in my head. It’s a constant knocking on all the doors. It’s some angry man wanting to come in to axe me for dating his daughter. It’s the soft pawing of one hand while the other holds an empty bottle. I want to shut my eyes against it, but a medic is holding them open.
His real name is Oliver, but we called him Odie the minute he joined up with our unit. He followed around the ginger from Brooklyn like a lost puppy—claiming kinship since he’s from Staten Island so they’re like neighbors, right?—and he got his name the fair way. I never knew if Oliver liked the nickname or not. His nose had wrinkled at it somewhat, but the tanned face always smoothed out eventually. Odie had no tempter.
Except, apparently, when you’re on death’s doorstep.
Odie is taking up all my vision, his helmet askew and eyes bright with fanaticism. I can hear him calling my name, but there’s something between him and me. I try to reach a hand out to touch it. The pain is excruciating and I can only manage to curl my fingers. Soon Odie’s hand is engulfing mine and he’s still shouting my name.
It’s all getting fuzzier and fuzzier. Then, when the jeep hits a rut in the Afghan road, everything just goes dark.
A lot of people say I died that day. Odie says they couldn’t do CPR because the head wound was too vicious and they’d only hurt me worse. Odie had been frantic, the medics had relayed. He was holding my hand and squeezing—nearly screaming my name as the jeep climbed a few more miles per hour. Corp Carrot shoved Odie over, told him to hold my fucking head and to fucking calm down. Carrot looked me in the eyes, which were open and bloodshot. He’d never seen so much blood in someone’s eyes.
They did the only thing they could do. They fired up the AED. They shot me through.
I woke up with a cough, but I don’t remember waking up.
I do remember bright lights and men with blue faces.
I do remember glasses glinting and harsh flashes.
I do remember something singing through my veins other than my blood.
I do remember waking up, but this time was like none of the times before. This time everything in me whirled and hissed to life. Energy charged across my skin like rampaging elephants. I looked down at myself, as I was waking up, and I saw the veins of light under my skin and the glow at the tips of my fingers.
I do remember dying and I do remember living again.