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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Other · #1886620
Phoenix is having a "normal" day so far, but it has just begun...
0311 hrs.  Phoenix awoke to the rare sound of rain.  He leaped out of bed, ran out the door and up the stairs in his bare feet and looked out the front storm door.  It was indeed raining.  However little, it was rain.  It lasted less than five minutes, but Phoenix did not care.  He woke his spouse to say it was raining, to which his spouse replied, "Mmph."  Phoenix ate some frosted shredded wheat and went in his office to get his medicine.  After taking his pills, he fed his leopard gecko Meeb a cricket and turned the office lights back out.  Phoenix dressed quickly in the bathroom, changing only his shirt and putting on his pants, socks, ankle brace, and shoes.  He grabbed his glasses in preparation to go outside.  0334 hrs.  Awfully early, he thought, but he had plenty to occupy him until he got tired again and calmed down from the rain.  He decided to write on his computer for a while after checking his e-mails.  All of his art supplies were now on the way by FedEx and should be there by the end of the week.  Phoenix was pleased about this.

This was a normal morning for Phoenix.  He woke up around 0300 hrs in the morning, ate breakfast, took his daytime meds, fed Meeb, got dressed, and worked on projects until he got tired enough to crawl back into bed and have more nightmares.  The nightmares were what really got Phoenix.  Always reminding him of combat, of what he did in combat so long ago now...  And it was horrible.  Phoenix hated himself for it.  But it was the War.  You followed orders, good, bad, or ugly, and you kept your mouth shut.  Phoenix had left his soul there, but not the memories.  Perhaps others had good tours in the Middle East.  Phoenix had not been unfortunate enough to have lost any limbs or have any head injuries that he knew of, but the things he did...they bothered him constantly.  They never let up, not for a moment, and they wreaked havoc on Phoenix's mental health.  Phoenix was mentally ill over the whole thing.  All the things that had happened and all the things he had had to tell his doctor to get them off his chest.  All the emotion that had rushed like a tidal wave from behind a wall without warning.  And the numbness.  It was still there sometimes.  Phoenix still could not remember certain aspects of the trauma events.  That bothered him, too.  He should be able to remember the name of the buddy who died in his arms.  He should be able to remember his face, although perhaps it was better not to remember him the way he was while he was dying.  Awful things happened in the Desert.  Phoenix wanted so badly to forget sometimes, but if he forgot, who would honor their memories?  The memories of his buddies, dead and gone, would be lost forever.  Phoenix had another problem, though.  Forgiveness.

Forgiveness was the word of the century for Phoenix.  His doctor and he were working hard on it and had been for some time.  Phoenix just could not forgive himself.  He could not let go of the blame on himself for all that happened.  There were situations in which Phoenix had lost control.  Situations in which all hell broke loose and people died.  Situations in which Phoenix did the best he could, but the best he could was still a terrible thing.  Situations in which the orders were impossible, but they were carried out anyway, shattering Phoenix's sense of right and wrong.  His officers were never on patrol with Phoenix or his fire team, either.  They were all holed up in the one hard structure in the camp with air conditioning while Phoenix and his buddies were out in the 137-degree heat of the day patrolling and gathering intel.  The Chairman of the Armed Forces Committee, a Senator from Ohio, came to visit the camp one day.  Phoenix was specifically put on duty as his personal machine-gunning body guard.  All the man did was whine about how hot it was.  Him in his black three-piece suit...  Phoenix kept him alive, though.  That was one thing that Phoenix did not have to forgive himself for, although he did have some thoughts about the stuffed-shirt man that he should probably not have had.  The Chairman ended up spending most of his visit in the air-conditioned hard structure with the officers.  Phoenix was invited to stand outside.  So much for the morale visit...
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