An Awkward SilenceMature

Michael passed by the infirmary on his way to his bunk space. When he looked in, Bobby was sitting on one of the beds, probably looking similar to what he did just a few short days ago. “Hey,” he said, waving. “You doing alright?”

“Yeah,” Bobby answered, his eyes half shut. “They gave me pain meds.”

Michael was a little bit frustrated at that. “Really? They didn't give me any pain meds when I came in.”

Chan turned around, “Yeah well we didn't have to take a chunk of metal out of you either.”

Michael thought a moment then nodded, “Fair enough. When will you be back on your feet?”

“Uh,” Bobby thought.

“Not for a few days,” Chan said.

“Well, I'll come by your room later and see how you're doing.”

“Alright man, have a good night,” Bobby waved and then stared straight ahead with a thin smile on his lips.

Michael had the feeling he was enjoying whatever it is they gave him. He went down the hall and turned into his room. Someone had put a towel on his bed along with a clean jumpsuit. He wondered if Ashley was responsible.

In his room down the hall, John stripped out of his jumpsuit and cleared his weapon, placing the half empty magazine on a window sill. He popped out the retaining pin and split the weapon open, taking up a nearby rag to remove the filthy bolt carrier. After that many spent rounds, cleaning it was going to be a chore. For now though, cleaning himself was more of a priority, and so he dropped the bolt carrier into a small plastic bin filled with oil. Before leaving the room for the showers, he took a squirt bottle filled with oil and applied a thick layer onto the machined parts on the inside of the weapon. Maybe some of the caked on carbon would be loosened by the time he got back from the showers.

It was at the top of the stairs that they coincidentally met up. Not a word was said between the two as they walked down the stairs barefoot, towels around their waists. Even at the doorway on the bottom floor landing, where Michael held the door open for John, they remained silent. Together they made their way to the shower room where most of the other team members from the patrol were either already showering or preparing to do so.

Michael found it difficult, as he did before, to deal with this aberration of his social construct. Before him, Amanda and Zoe were nude, drying themselves from their shower. The other men seemed to care very little about this, continuing on into the tiled room as though nothing was the matter.

Michael knew that to them, nothing truly was the matter. He came to understand that in a world of constant struggle, certain social expectations had taken the door in lieu of more practical and pressing matters, such as survival. Nevertheless, Michael had to wait for the girls to leave before removing his towel and walking into the showers.

The End

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