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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

ELS 6 - Making a Break

“What the hell was I doing?”

She’d asked that question many times in the last three whirlwind days

Now, sitting here in the darkness
Alone with her thoughts
Joined only by her three cabin mate’s sleeping sounds
Two distinct snoring patterns
And one that wheezed a bit

Wheeze it on in……
Wheeze it on out

In three days time
She’d gone from being an upstanding citizen serving her country
To a deserter
A thief
A traitor
A liar

She didn’t feel like the woman that she was three days ago
Who proudly drove her T-34 tank through the finish line of the annual unit competition
Triumphant and glowing
A red grin holding a cigar in white teeth
Flanked by snarling wolf motif

What followed was like a bad dream

Her commanding officer
Furious at her for winning
For defeating all the men in the unit
For gaining the coveted transfer spot to a larger unit
With newer equipment
A higher profile

He had ordered her to park her tank off to the side
And while her crew had gaped at the unbelievable spectacle
Had practically dragged her from the driver’s seat through the hatch
Proceeding to dress her down in front of all the other soldiers
Accusing her of cheating on the course
Of being a drunk
Of using narcotics
Of dereliction of duty
Of insubordination

Everything he could think of short of the truth:
That she was only guilty of one thing

Of being a successful woman in this man’s army

He had finished off his tirade against her
By cuffing her on the side of the head
So hard she lost her balance and fell

While being picked up by her mostly loyal crew
The C.O. had strode to back to the larger group of soldiers
Proclaiming her victory null and void

That the next tank to cross the finish line would be the real winner
Whenever it was that it arrived

The rest of the afternoon and evening had been a blur of tears for Commander Kazia Tamm

Cheers and celebrations for the “winning” team
A few pitying glances from her comrades
But mostly scorn
A million different thoughts racing through her head all at once

By lights out
Kazia was only thinking one thought:
To get the hell out of here and get on with her life

There would be no success for her here
That much was clear

She sat on her bunk looking at a small picture of Charles
The man who had stolen her heart a blink of time and eight months ago
And fingering her steel engagement band
Dully reflecting the lamplight in chipped dark green

A plan slowly formed in her head in those moments
And without thinking about it enough to talk herself out of it
She acted upon it

For sometimes that is what must be done when time is short

Opening her locker
Kazia took out her gear
Adding only a pair of night vision goggles to what she had used today during the competition
Stuffing it into her tool bag
Along with her small pile of money she had saved up
And securely closing the bag

Her cot was a mess
So she took a moment to tighten the corners so it looked neat
Before picking up her gear and leaving the tent

Outside, a half moon shone down in a clear sky
A perfect night for a drive
Glinting off the shiny head of the unit mascot
Which sat in the middle of their gathering of tents
A medium sized bronze wolf statue
Supposedly liberated years before from a Nazi command center

Kazia stroked it’s head on her way by
Honoring tradition and hopefully gaining an ounce of luck
Knowing it would be the last time she would ever do so

Into the moonlit night she went
Quiet as a cat
Towards the tank pen