I was asked to find a story to retell so I asked my husband, not only because is he the closest person I have but because he keeps the same “night owl” hours I do. I figured he would tell me a story of something that happened at work last week or related to one of his hobbies, but instead he chose a story from his first deployment to Afghanistan. This was a story I had heard before, but never in as much detail as he shared this time. I never push when it comes to stories from his deployments because I don’t want him to feel like I love his career choice over who he is, but also I find it one of the few parts of his life I have trouble empathizing with.
I enjoyed the task of writing from a different perspective but found it more challenging to write concisely. My husband has a way of saying too much when a little will do and I found this translated into how I interpreted his story. I wanted to include a line about how sinus pressure and flying is difficult due to elevation changes because I have felt my ears pop and watched infants struggle with not knowing what to do when pressure happens in their sinuses on planes.
View A: I finally gave in, my sinuses felt like they were bursting. I needed to get antibiotics for whatever this sinus-thing was, and I would have to deal with inflamed sinuses on a flight to get them. I ran to the helipad to catch the helicopter and asked “Is this going to Kandahar?” They nodded, so I jumped in and we took off. We stopped at one outpost, and another…and kept flying. KAF couldn’t have been that far. “How much longer until we get there?” I asked the contractors. They looked at me confused.
“We aren’t going to KAF for another eight hours, we have to finish this loop first,” one of them finally replied. “You’ve got a choice, get off at the next post and wait for us to come back on the return leg or stay on.” I shrugged and stayed, staring out the window for hours at countryside that so few get to see. Maybe one day we’ll actually get to explore them.
View B: We landed to reload for supplies for the next loop at the usual place. It takes about eight hours so we liked to be prepared. While Smith and King were reloading, this specialist comes up shouting “Hey! Is this heading to KAF? I need to get some antibiotics.” I nod, and he says “Great, I’ll be right back,” heads into the building, and appears before King puts the last box in. The specialist settles in to a nap, and we stop at the first place. We’re starting to get behind in our timing, and I wonder if he could help if we woke him up. At our second stop of the loop, he startles awake confused. “Aren’t we at KAF yet?”
“No, we aren’t going to be there for hours,” I shouted over the propeller. Smith over the radio snickered and I shot him a glance before the kid could see. “Look, we’re on a loop. You can get off at the next post if you want and we can grab you on the way back. Or stay on the plane. Your choice I guess.” The specialist sighs and slumps over resigned.
“I’ll stay, thanks for the offer though,” he eventually shouts back. King and Smith both shrug. The hours and stops go by, and I keep catching the specialist looking out the windows. Guess I am too numb to the scenery now because he was fixated on each mountain and field we passed, but the helicopter was getting full. When he finally got off at KAF six hours later, another box was put in his spot.