[Afghanistan – March 13th]
I exhaled, the plume of breath lifting into the air and quickly vanishing in the pre-dawn light. Above me, the sky hung heavy, dark, and blue, as if struggling to wake itself from a deep and peaceful slumber. The icy temperatures of the desert night were only just beginning to wane. Tendrils of warmth crept through the sand I stretched out on.
A bead of sweat trickled down my forehead, but I resisted the urge to brush it away. Stillness was vital to blending into the hilly terrain.
Cheek pressed against the stock of my rifle, gazing down the long-range scope, I watched the Afghani village below me.
Just a little bit longer and you’ll have your prize.
The horizon glowed brighter by the minute as the village slowly began to stir. Men and women emerged out of the mud-brick houses, children trailing in their wake. I didn’t stir—didn’t twitch a muscle—as small flocks of goats were released from crudely built pens. The children wielded staffs deftly, herding the livestock toward the back of the village where shrubs and greenery grew against the odds. In groups of twos and threes, the adults headed after the flocks, trudging toward their fields.
The smell of Afghanistan was dry and savage—lethal—leaving my throat raw and my lips chapped. I ran my tongue over the torn skin of my mouth, focusing on breathing. Training to be a sniper was harsh, but no one had mentioned just how hard the job would eventually become.
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