I was born on a battlefield. My mother was a member of the militia. My father was a silent warrior, wounded from another war. I spent my first years of life with them and my two older sisters. We lived to love and loved to live. We thrived in the war zone. I was the youngest member of the team. They taught me hastily how to survive, thrive, and be a fighting member of the squad. They knew only combat would perfect my tradecraft, or not. It was a war. Every day was a battle.
“Take your shot,” they taught me. “Your worst shot is the one you never take,” they warned me.
I took the shot and missed; the enemy did not. My mother was hit.
“What were you aiming at?” my father asked.
“Nothing!” I confessed.
“Well done son. If you were aiming at nothing, you hit it!” His voice was a whisper that thundered. I disappointed him. His whisper echoed and his gaze blazed an unseeable image on my mind that I could not unsee.
“Move!” they shouted. “We’ll provide you cover.”
Get up! I told myself. They had my six. Supersonic lead sprayed the place I had been only seconds before. I moved faster. I kept running. I ran!
“Get down dummy!” my smart sister screamed.
My smart sister knew more than me. She saved my life that day, and many more to come.
Getting up and getting down became second-nature. But sometimes I forgot to check in, and my other sister reminded me.
“Are you in position yet?!” my other sister called impatiently.
I was, and I was aiming at something this time. I was so focused on my target I forgot to hit the PTT button on my radio. My wounded mother, dazed father, and two sisters did not know where I was or what I was doing.
“I’m in position. I will cover you. Move!” I blurted. Better late than never.
I aimed this time. I hit my target before I pulled the trigger. I saw the projectile’s trajectory and watched it pierce my target even before I let it fly. I took a shot and took a life. It tasted sweet and sour.