The boy soldiers are eating protein bars made of sugar mostly and singing Hatikvah with the passion of brainwashed memorization. I am sitting away from them because I am a girl soldier. I am sitting with the girl soldiers. I am eating protein bars too and I am thinking about Hatikvah because I am looking at the flag. So in a way, I am not that far from the boy soldiers. I see the flag everywhere I go. It is a blaring white and blue that I can’t not see. It’s omnipresent as the sky. As meaningful as human life. I think about that often. There was a dark brown girl whose skinny leg flew past me from a preschool. I know that her name was Dalia because I found her smoked stuffed elephant with her name on it later. The pink and stout legs on the elephant drive me mad. I can’t think about them too much or else I will go mad. Lunch is over.
I am carrying a stretcher that weighs three hundred pounds on my shoulders. It hurts. The other girl soldiers are carrying the weight too but they are weak. I am weak. I twisted my ankle in a ditch a few miles ago. The lieutenant is screaming at us from a roofless car that is following us. She has a flat chest, a sharp jaw, and yellow eyes. She is important to me. I want her to look at my ankle but I know that she needs to yell at me right now. I wonder if she is ever tender. Is there someone that she smiles at or coos to? If I take an ice pick to her mouth and hum a prayer she might crack. If I kiss her neck and hum a prayer she might melt.
It is 0300 hours and I am half awake. The girl soldiers are praying in urgent Hebrew. They are whispering as they learned in school. A good girl prays in whispers and covers her eyes. The air is humid and I am hot. I am schvitzing and drooling, indulging in my last wave of sleep. They pray every time they smell smoke. This is the seventh day in a row that we can smell smoke. Still, they pray. They will make good wives. They are acting as if their future husband’s eyes will take in their pious image and feel love but there are no eyes, it’s just us and the stars. G-d must be watching. He already knows what I am. I find no reason to pretend. There is a sound that sends me flying and all I can see is stars. I take inventory while my breathing trembles. I have one head, two eyes, two ears, two arms, my two hands, and ten fingers, two legs yes yes yes both feet and ten toes. I am okay. My ankle is not okay but I am not my ankle. I crawl to find my lieutenant. She finds me first. She is holding me. She feels like a rock. I can sleep now. I try to tell her with my eyes that I am leaving. And then I go.
I am awake again. I don’t know why. I can’t imagine why. My ankle is heavy and aching, wrapped tightly in someone’s bralette. The sun is either setting or rising and I feel cradled by its warmth. A girl soldier with a blonde bun and blood on her face asks if I’m okay. Her voice is like honey.
I nod. She lifts me so quick my head spins and now I know that the sun is rising; it is daytime and we are on our way. “Where?” I ask. Honey only nods.