“Just through here,” I say confidently.
“Are you sure, Wright? I have a bad feeling about this place. Something doesn’t feel right.”
“Trust me. We’ve been watching this area for weeks. The men we’re looking for are on the other side of this wall.”
My men line up, preparing to enter the room.
I lift my hand.
On my count.
I kick open the door, falling back as I let my men charge into the room.
Everything happens so fast.
A shout in Arabic.
A clamor of English.
I jerk from my bed, my arms raising in a defensive position as I take in the room around me. It’s pitch black, the only semblance of light coming from the digital alarm clock glowing in the corner. By its faint light, I’m able to make out my bed. The chair in the corner covered in yesterday’s clothes. My dresser. I’m in my bedroom. I’m home.
I repeat the words over and over to myself, but they do nothing to calm my frayed nerves. My heart races, my breathing ragged. I feel as if I’m going to crawl right out of my skin. I bring my trembling hand to my face, wiping my sweat-soaked brow.
I sit on the edge of my bed, tucking my head between my knees and taking several deep breaths, like my therapist suggested for when these moments occur. And like every other time this has happened, cowering and deep breathing does jack shit. I stomp out of my bedroom, heading for the medicine cabinet in the hall bathroom. I fling open the cabinet door, grabbing for the pills she gave me for when the breathing exercises don’t work. Fuck breathing exercises. I don’t believe for a minute that shit works for anyone.
I swallow two of the pills, not bothering with water, before placing the bottle back on the shelf and swinging the mirrored door shut. I stare at my reflection. I look like shit. My eyes are bloodshot, the dark circles surrounding them deepening every day. The pallor of my normally copper skin is shocking, even to my own eyes. I splash some water on my face, rubbing at my tired, aching eyes.
My thoughts return to my dream. The same one I’ve had every night for the past six months. I hear the voices. The sound of gunfire. I see the flash of the grenade exploding.
“Fuck it,” I mutter, grabbing the pills again and swallowing three more, this time with a small sip of water from the sink. It’s more than Beth wants me to take. But I need some fucking sleep. I need some fucking silence. I need some fucking oblivion.
I stagger out to the couch, feeling the rush of calm already settling over me. I honestly don’t know why I don’t take these damn pills all the time. They’re so much fucking better than the alternative. I collapse on the couch, pulling a blanket around me before allowing the sweet serenity of sleep to take over.