I was wearing a dark blue uniform, so caked with mud and grime one hardly saw the color. It was caked with mud but also shone with the maroon streaks and splatters of old blood; some mine, some not. There was a ringing in my ears. Everything around me happened in muffled volume. I slithered on the ground, holding my rifle in my hands. I used it to propel me forwards by digging it into the mud, one side and then the other. The enemy flew bombers overhead and shot at us from the cover of the trees. My brain was screaming to return fire but i was out of ammunition. With no bullets in the gun, it was of little use to me as a weapon. I couldn’t shoot the enemy. I couldn’t get close enough to stab the enemy without getting shot dead first. There was no way for me to win the situation, no outcome in which we all got to go home. I thought of my girlfriend, smiling at me, hair curled, laughing and turning to run through a field, i following after her. I thought of my mother, straightening my uniform and placing my cap on my head, telling me to return to her. Their images vanished from my head. All around me there were only men. My men, laid up on the railroad tracks, no ammunitions, no vehicle, no train, no radio, and no hope of rescue…and the other men…the ones shooting at us from the trees. I kept moving us forwards because i felt that’s what we should do. Move forwards towards the enemy. Every once in a while i would shout something motivational to my men and we would rally, one last push, we would slither down the tracks, some firing what little ammunition they had left, my men dropping like flies all around me. We slithered toward the enemy to certain doom, with little to no ammunition when perhaps we should have run. But to run was a cowards way and none of us were cowards. So covered in mud, sweat, our own blood and the blood of our fallen brothers, we slithered ever closer to the enemy, taking bullet after bullet and dropping to writhe in agony in the mud only to be shot in the head and finally lay still. All around me bullets whizzed and muffled shouting registered. I looked down at my hand. I knew i had written there with black ink the night before, “trash” to remind myself to take the trash out to the curb before morning. However, looking at my hand, “trash” was not the word written there in black ink. It was the word “brakes”. I thought, “that’s strange.” I wondered why i would write the word “brakes” on my hand. We hadn’t seen a vehicle in days. We had abandoned the tanks because we were out of fuel and couldn’t make them move. Instead, we had continued on foot. Now we lay on our bellies, unarmed and surrounded, and slithered towards the enemy, some already mortally wounded. The man i was shouting at took a bullet to the face and dropped in the mud. I looked around me. Why hadn’t we run? Who on earth would do this? Why hadn’t we run when we had the chance? I sat up in bed, drenched in sweat. All my muscles were cramping at once. I was extremely tired, to the point where i could fall asleep mid conversation, while i was driving, while i was typing, basically anywhere whilst doing anything. Sore and in agony, i struggled to peel my eyes open long enough to swallow my 3 o-clock meds and stumble to the bathroom. Then i felt my way back to bed. I was afraid to close my eyes. Like the first time i exhibited symptoms, after two months of none, i was back to riding out night sweats, tachycardia, muscle and joint pain, extreme fatigue, and sporadic sleep plagued with nightmares of death. But this one was different. I thought about my therapist in austin. I wondered what she would say about the soldiers crawling through mud with zero ammunitions. I couldn’t spend the money required to find out. I sipped a cup of water and tried to tear myself from the fading images in my head. I looked down at my hand. It read “trash” in black letters.

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