21 – Baghdad
SEVERAL YEARS AGO
Whatever answer Amira had been about to give was swallowed up by the sudden chatter of gunfire coming from somewhere entirely too close by. It had been several days since I’d heard anything hear this close; although the sound had never gone away entirely.
I turned to back to Amira, intending to get her to safety before rejoining my unit–if the fighting were picking up again, they were going to need a priest. But when I turned to her, the first thing that I noticed was that she was too pale, her face gone an almost chalky white, lighter even than my own.
“Amira?” I said, moving towards her.
That’s when I noticed the second thing. The blood slowly spreading out from one of her sides. Her hands had come up, perhaps instinctively, to cover it, but even that was not enough to stop the flow. No, she was hurt. Pretty badly by the look of it.
“Amira!” I closed the last few steps nearing a run, reaching her just in time to get my arms under her as her knees gave out and she fell towards the floor. I managed to take a good portion of her weight, but she still landed harder than I would have liked under the best of circumstances.
And these were hardly the best of circumstances.
I called her name softly once more, all the while my brain whirring along, trying to determine what it was that I could possible do to her. I had a rudimentary medical training, a bit more than the average conscript perhaps, but still not enough to deal with something like this.
By now her hand had fallen away and there was a small yet steadily growing pool of blood spreading beneath her.
She needed medical attention.
She needed the unit doctor.
Ignoring the blood I could even then feel dripping down onto my hands, I lifted her back off from the ground. She weighed no more than I expected, easily light enough that I could carry her.
I suddenly flashed back to the moment not so very long when I’d carried another to the medic.
Unfortunately, I knew as well as my subconscious mind how well that time had turned out. I knew it in the very fiber of my being though, that this time was going to have to be different. This time…
“God, please help me.”
Despite being a priest, or perhaps because of it, I only very rarely prayed aloud regarding personal matters. In my mind, praying aloud was for when others were meant to hear, either when leading a service or in group matters. For smaller, more personal regards, the only one that needed to hear you was God and he had the distinct advantage of being able to hear anything. Yet aloud I prayed.
“Please help Amira. Grant me just the strength that I need, so that I can bring her, grant her the strength that she needs to hang on until then.”
It was rough, but it would have to do. I could only hope that the old maxim ‘it’s the thought that counts’ would hold true in this particular case.