Violence. I’m addicted to it. It’s how I feel alive. It’s the only thing that’s real any more. And now I have to sit around and discuss it like it’s physics or calculus. I can’t do it. I can’t pretend that it’s some sterile academic topic. Violence isn’t sterile. It isn’t calm. It’s pulsing. It’s alive. It’s my drug. Until I met Abby, I never wanted anything beyond the next fight. Never considered that I might finally find a way back to the land of the living. Now? Now I find myself dreaming of a woman with golden eyes. But I can never be with her. Because I am not whole. And I never will be again. But I cannot stay away. And loving her might finally be what breaks me.
I want to know his name. I’ve decided that already. I should text Graham and ask him if he knows it. But that would clue Graham in that I was interested, and while I love Graham like a brother, he has far too much invested in my love life or lack thereof. He’d give the guy my number, home address, and blood type if he thought it would get me laid.
I might make jokes about it, but I’m not that open when it comes to sex. It’s not that I’m morally opposed to it. But it hasn’t been exactly…earth shattering for me. Robert was…more concerned with his own pleasure than mine.
And wow, do I need to think about something else. Something other than the man next to me with the haunted eyes and thick, blunt fingers that are currently toying with a pencil.
I’m better than this. I’m not boy crazy. I don’t let myself get distracted from why I’m here and guys definitely fall into the distraction category these days. I know who I am and what I want in life. And while the fantasy of having a guy stroke my neck and whisper things to make me laugh might be appealing, it’s nothing more than a fantasy for girls like me in a place like this.
Fantasies are safe.
Fantasies don’t ruin your life and crush your soul and try to change who you are. They don’t pretend to love you.
And in my fantasies is where he’ll stay. In the dark and the shadows, where I can take out the idea of him and play with it for a little while, then put it safely away where it can wait until next time.
Because fantasies can’t hurt you.
And as interested as I am in the man who did such a simple thing by sitting next to me, I am far too cynical to pretend that this is anything more than it is—a kind gesture.
Jessica Scott is an Iraq war veteran, an active duty army officer and the USA Today bestselling author of novels set in the heart of America’s Army. She is the mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs, and wife to a retired NCO. She and her family are currently wherever the army has sent her. She’s also written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View Regarding War, and IAVA. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/New Dawn and has had the honor of serving as a company commander at Fort Hood, Texas twice. She’s pursuing a graduate degree in Sociology in her spare time and she’s been featured as one of Esquire Magazine’s Americans of the Year for 2012. Jessica is also an active member of the Military Writers Guild.