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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Other · #1884960
Phoenix is up at 0300 in the morning again from nightmares and is frustrated...
Phoenix wandered to the kitchen in the dark.  He turned on the bathroom light to use the bathroom, then turned on the kitchen light.  He was not interested in getting up particularly, but the nightmares made impossible to sleep on a regular basis and this happened all too often.  Phoenix poured himself less cereal than normal.  Frosted shredded wheat, the WalMart brand, with one percent milk, all in a cottage cheese container.  That is what Phoenix and his spouse used for bowls in the apartment.  Phoenix thought about his nightmare as he ate his cereal.  This was not on purpose, necessarily, but Phoenix did try to make sense of where the elements of the nightmares he had stemmed from.  He identified most elements of this particular nightmare and moved into his office after dumping his milk down the sink, not thinking.  Phoenix put in his earbuds and turned on his iPod.  "Gravedigger" by the Dave Matthews Band was playing as he opened the lid of his MacBook Air with Lion OS X, fast becoming obsolete with Mountain Lion OS coming out.  Phoenix switched his music over to a Lady GaGa album on his iPod and then began writing.  He often wrote to calm down.

There were times when Phoenix sat for hours not knowing what to write, but still thinking like mad with a storm inside his head.  The problem was not that he had nothing to write about, but that he could not keep up with what he needed to write down.  He could not keep up with his thoughts.  The storm inside his soul was even more intense.  Feelings that had no articulation in any of the languages that Phoenix knew brewed and spun in his heart, creating some of the most agonizing pain one could imagine, much less live through.  He could not control his feelings.  His PTSD did not help him with that aspect of life.  He had, in his mind, done the unthinkable and the unforgivable in combat in the Middle East.  He could never be forgiven.  All he could do is perform penance by helping others for the rest of his life and hope that it would offset the evil he had committed in the combat zone.  Phoenix had not, according to his doctor, had any combat experiences that were not "fairly common" and remarked that "nobody can handle them".  Somehow, this did not make Phoenix feel any better about his experiences in combat.  It was War, it was ugly, and it was Hell itself.  Phoenix felt that he had been in the service of Satan himself in certain circumstances.  But that was War.  War.

Phoenix tried so hard to leave the War behind, but it was part of him, and Phoenix knew that he died there.  His soul was in the Middle East.  He had left it there.  Phoenix felt like the walking dead, like he was already living in Hell, and that that was where he was destined to spend eternity.  He wanted desperately to be a doctor - a psychiatrist - and to help others that may have had similar experiences to his own.  Or any other mental disorder.  Phoenix was very good at diagnosing and aiding those with mental disorders.  Everyone that knew him commented on his "natural abilities" in the area of psychology.  Phoenix would have no natural ability without his experiences in combat and in life thus far and he knew that.  He could never tell anyone where the natural ability came from.  They could guess some from his medical appointments and arrangements for certain treatments, but they could never know what his "heroism" consisted of in the War.  Heroism.  In War.  It was almost laughable.  Phoenix had been a warrior for sure, but being a warrior did not carry salvation with it.  Phoenix had grown fond of his PTSD and his experiences as a warrior in a strange way, however.  He was thankful for these if, and only if, they could give him the ability to help others, which they appeared to do.  Phoenix changed the music on his iPod to a Hugh Laurie album and listened to "St. James Infirmary."  Strange that the man who played Dr. House in the series "House" could sing and play the piano so well.  It was powerful music.  It spoke to Phoenix.  Music had always spoken to Phoenix.  Perhaps Phoenix should have been a musician, but he had a warrior's spirit.  Well, until he went to War, he did...

Phoenix looked at the clock.  0400.  He still was not tired.  He still did not want to attempt sleep again.  Sunday morning.  Phoenix thought he should go to church, but what would he do there?  Disturb everyone else's worship of the Lord.  Phoenix felt that he was evil, that he could not go to church.  And he had mixed feelings about running into his doctor before that situation got ironed out for sure.  Phoenix decided to listen to "Joshua Fit the Battle" for a while.

A drive in the cool air might do him good, Phoenix thought.  He showered, got dressed, grabbed his keys and his cap, and told his spouse that he was going for a drive.  It was cool, the night was still upon his part of the world and the crescent moon with two bright stars shined down upon him.  It was 0444 in the morning.  The sun would begin to come up soon.  Phoenix drove to the WalMart in the farthest part of the city for deodorant, enjoying the early morning air.  Another hot day was in store for them, according to the weather.  The fair was in town, and it was perfect fair weather if you liked being hot, sweaty, and dehydrated no matter where you were.  There was rain in the forecast for Wednesday, along with overcast skies and a high of 65 degrees Fahrenheit.  That was about what the temperature was as Phoenix drove around in the dark on this Sunday morning.

Phoenix arrived at WalMart, bought a notebook for his thesis notes and three sticks of deodorant, then headed back toward his apartment.  Phoenix could not shake the nightmare and its underpinnings.  By 0537, he was home again.  He could not sleep, but he did not know what else to do.  He did not want to wake his spouse, so he decided to enjoy the cool air coming in through the bedroom window.  He stripped down to his underwear and laid on top of the blankets.  Sleep finally revisited him and he next woke at 0910.
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