Chapter 3

SIX MONTHS LATER…. Back in the States

Sitting alone on the hard, cold concrete outside of my shit-hole apartment, I finally realize that I am all alone. No reason to live. No want to live. All alone. The stairway that leads to my one bedroom apartment sits five steps away, but I sit on the ground looking at my used cigarette butts that I have strewn in no such pattern around my feet. I don't dare smoke in my apartment making my life a reality. Plus I can't stand the smell that it leaves everywhere.

As the smoke dances around my face, I grimace as I float back to the fact that I have no reason to go in, there's no one there, no sounds of laughter, no sounds of tears, nothing. Nothingness. That's what my life has become.

I sink deeper into the shadows of the night with the only two things in my life that bring me short solace. My newly acquired bottle of liquor and my cigarettes.

Even walking the short distance to the liquor store is a chore. I'm there so often they know me by name, albeit not my real name. Again, I'm alone. No one knows who I am exactly, not even me. I don't know if I ever will become who I was.

My family is gone, my husband is gone, my children are gone and I'm left alone in the one place that I should have never made it back to alive. I should have had my very own Army issued body bag that I arrived in. And they say I'm the lucky one. How the hell do they know? I think they make up names for the problems that I came back with to make me feel as if I'm not crazy. I know I'm crazy. I know I've lost it and because of that fact I know I am now alone.

Taking a sip, the clear liquid burns the back of my already irritated throat as I drink it down. Too much smoking is what my therapist says. Physical Medical advice from the shrink, you'd think he would much rather work on the shit in my head, but he'd never tell me to quit. It's my only way to deal with my life.

It didn't used to be this way, I never smoked before I left. I was a runner, I was an athlete. The key being I was, I'm not now. I am a shell of what I once was, I am no longer human on the inside, I'm nothing. I've let myself disintegrate down to barely a hundred pounds with no recognition of myself when I stand in front of the mirror.

Nothingness, that's what I want.


The only way to make that happen is sitting inside my jacket pocket waiting to be opened and to be taken. I'm not crazy, I'm just numb. A numbness that fills every ounce of my being, every inch of my body, every section of my mind. As I take another drink, another rough pull of the bottle, more numbness settles in and my resolve to live is gone.

It's not safe sitting out here alone, but who cares about safety. I'm the lucky one, right? I came home when our time was over. I survived the attacks. No one can touch me here. This is my home.

As I glance across the street to a bar that sits on the corner, I can see a man eyeballing me from his perch at the corner bus stop. It's a street corner that means nothing to me. In a town that means nothing to me. I mean nothing to me or to anyone else for that matter.

I lay back surveying the ground where I have added to the artistic arrangement of my cigarette butts. The man makes a move, but doesn't come all the way across. Do it, I beg him. Put me out of my misery, so that I don't have to take the cowardly way out. Being a coward is just not my style. Just end it for me, so I don't have to myself. As I beg him with my eyes to come and take the pain away, he turns and walks in the opposite direction. He practically runs away.

What did I do wrong? Why did his plans change? Do I really look that pathetic that someone who obviously wanted something from me, just turns and walks away? No, he must have seen the crazy person in my eyes. Or maybe he just saw the blankness within me that goes all the way to my core, to my soul.

Right, I forgot, I guess I am the lucky one.