A Fallen Soldier
She jolted upright in a cold sweat. On high alert from the gruesome flashbacks, all she could hear was rapid machine guns and screams. Her nose was assaulted with a memory of gunpowder and iron seemed to be filling the air. She looked around frantically and after a moment she realized she wasn't on the battlefield. It had been three weeks since she was given her honorable discharge. After five years of service it seemed like her life was back to the beginning. Five years she had known everything she needed to do with her life. Where to be and when. Now she was lost. Her life seemed over. She wasn’t able to start her intern year for residency until the therapist her corporal assigned had her cleared for practice. So here she was. Twenty-three and trapped in the house her mother left her. No family in Seattle anymore and no friends since she grew up in Atlanta. Looking at the clock she sighed. Three in the morning and with no hope to fall asleep again she rolls out of her bed. Into the kitchen to start coffee she gently pats her dog. A two year old retired military dog named Atlas. He was retired at the same time she was. His handler had been shot down in an ambush in Iraq. They were going to put Atlas down after he had been brought in with a shattered leg and a bullet wound. Everyone told her that he wasn’t worth saving but she saw a kindred spirit in him. He had seen and survived the drums of war. He helped her recover in the rehab facility and she put in the request to take him home with her. Her impeccable record allowed approval of her request immediately then it seemed her and Atlas were on their way home. They settled into what has become their routine very quickly. She would have a therapy session at seven but before then she decides to start breakfast.