I looked across and saw the young soldier who had just arrived, slumped on the floor. I grabbed my bag and walked over, assessing the wound as I approached. The stain spread from just above the neck of his flak jacket, slick black on the camouflage material. Not a gunshot. Ricocheted shrapnel? A blast injury? No sign of flash or burns.
Closer now I saw the characteristic wide mouth grin with sharp edges. A knife then.
I twisted open a large field dressing and pressed it to his wound.
“There. Hold it there and press hard.”
His tongue flicked repeatedly, snake like, across blue lips.
“It doesn’t hurt - can’t be that bad, can it?”
His pale sweaty face held eye whites highlighted by contrast with black camo smears across his smooth cheeks.
“My wife. I’ve got to tell my wife.”
“She’s been told. You’ve got to go now.”
I grabbed his rough, dusty fatigues and pulled him to his feet, pushed him towards the two doors in the end wall.
He dropped the dressing; the stain no longer spreading. He turned.
They all did in the end.
This story was written to a prompt from Inspiration Monday