Anywhere but here is where she wanted to be. She tried to focus on home and all the comforts that came with it but it was damn near impossible. As she regained her bearings it was apparent the trip home was going to be hell, or at least a trip through it. The smell of burning rubber and flesh filled her nose and the shadows of those she knew towered over her in a frenzy. Slowly she faded into a dream land as the voices became garbled. The next image she saw was her father’s face.
“Hey kiddo you sure took a spill there” as he picked her up off the ground. She had fallen off her bike for the fifth time and scrapped her arm to the point blood started to fill the void where skin used to be. She had sternly told her dad that if she didn’t need training wheels anymore she definitely didn’t need him tagging along. Yet no sooner did he back off that she took the spill. Her toughness couldn’t mask the tears this time and as he picked her up the sound of crying soon followed. Her dad held her and let her cry and soon enough the tears dried up and she was at it again.
No sooner did she master the bike she was begging for the car keys. He a little grayer and she more determined than ever he took her out for the first time to drive. She was not getting the easy indoctrination of an automatic transmission but the pain of a manual. She never winced at the thought of grinding gears; at least not nearly as much as he did so off they went. It was typical of all first timers in a manual. Clutch in, stick to first, clutch out as you step on the gas and then the stall with the lurch of a dying car. The pain was obvious in his eyes but she kept at it and faster than he had hoped for she had it down.
Her last vision of dad was a smoke filled hell as she regained consciousness. The truck she had been driving was hit by a road side bomb. She had done everything she was supposed to, it just didn’t matter this time. The driver’s side took the brunt of the blast is it sheared the door away along with her left arm. The medics from a vehicle further back made their way up as the scene was secured. She asked if everyone was alright and they acknowledged they were. She smiled in pain with a relief nobody else felt her misery. Quietly she faded off back to visions of her father.
This time though she had a harder time seeing his face. She could feel him but she couldn’t make out the details. She could hear his words but couldn’t understand them. “Daddy” she cried out. “Daddy I can’t see you, please come here.” His image grew more distant, her innocence fainter. Her tears began to worry the medics.
The confusion set in as her body began to shake. The medics prepared her for the move to the Medivac as they put the last of the plasma in her. Word came in over the radio that the chopper was 15 minutes out causing the medics to use their last means available. The morphine was the last thing they wanted to give her but it seemed like the only thing they could do now. It was apparent nothing could be done in time with the wound she had suffered.
Suddenly dads face appeared and the words were clear and crisp as he picked her up off the ground. “It’s going to be all right.” “The tears will dry up.” She grew still with his promise. Daddy’s girl always needed his reassurance regardless of what she said to him. “Let’s get you inside” was the last thing she heard him say. “Daddy I love you.” This was the last she said to him.
Slowly the lights around her dimmed from gray to black. The sounds of war grew silent. The warmth of her father filled her as the cold of death took her. Daddy’s girl was going home.