2 Replies to “8.13.2013 Journal Prompt”

  1. Skyler tried to keep himself busy. He made his bed and stripped it again, stripped it back to the mattress, the way the sergeant did if he was not satisfied that it had been made right, or just if he had it in for you. Skyler remade it again and folded the corners neat as hospital beds and the pillow plumped and smooth and everything box straight.

    He polished his boots, buffered them to a hard spit shine, till he could see his face in them. And his belt buckle and cap badge the same, rubbed to a high brass glint. He checked his locker, unfolding and refolding his clothes. and checking to see if his trousers, hung on wire hangers, still held a crease as sharp as a knife.

    Skyler swept the floor of his room, the second time today that he had done that. And he cleaned the sink in the corner and dusted the bookshelves and straightened the pictures on the wall. Then, when he was finished and there was nothing more to do, he sighed and ran his fingers through the short crop of his hair and scratched at the top of his head.

    He put the radio on and turned it up as loud as it could go. He knew it would annoy Tibbett next door and he’d be hammering on the wall before long and cursing him to hell and back. Till then the sound of the guitars screaming and the drums rattling filled his head and left no room for thought.

    Skyler hated his days off. Trapped by the high wire fences of the base and the desert sand beyond, and nothing to do but think. Some of the others were into sports or tv or books or jigsaws with only one piece missing. He could play cards for pennies in the Mess or darts or arm wrestle. Or there was time to write letters home, letters to Mom and Dad and Elsie. He had a picture of Elsie tucked into his cap so that she was always with him. Used to be she was in his thoughts all the time, but that was before.

    Tibbett yelled through for him to turn the radio down for fuck’s sake. He said that it was so fucking loud he couldn’t hear himself fucking think. Tibbett didn’t seem to understand that not hearing himself think was the point. Skyler turned the radio down a level, and he sat with his ear as close to it as he could get. Not thinking about things was what he was trying to do.

    In particular it was Guthrie he was trying not to think about. Guthrie laughing and joking one minute and they were out on patrol and Skyler skittery like a bird behind him and Guthrie saying as how he’d see him right. And that felt good to have someone like Guthrie looking out for him. Then, in no more time than it takes to blink, he was gone – the air blasted with thunder that made Skyler temporarily deaf, and Guthrie gone, torn into pieces so small they could never be put back together.

    Now on days off Skyler keeps busy and he tries not to be thinking, for that blink of the eye moment is caught in his head, caught so fast that if he does stop to think then he sees it again, sees Guthrie there and gone and all the little bits of him thrown to the wind, like a 5000 piece jigsaw and a piece of him missing.

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