Eye of the Beholder.

Eyes can tell you a lot about a person. 

Their emotions

Their intentions. 

Their desires. 

Most importantly though, you need to know eyes tell you very little. 

You cannot see what another has seen, and it’s incredibly bold to claim to know a any single being without first understanding what they have fallen witness to. 

And that is why we write.

Describing memories so beautifully in our words, painting the world as we see it.

We canvas our morals, our struggle, our inner truths, and secrets only the heart should ever know. And all that is transferred from pen to parchment gives away what eyes can never tell you, what no one can decipher from a blank stare. 


I have this dream.

This sick, brilliant, but terrifying, reoccurring dream.

I am older, and it’s the middle of my second enlistment. I’ve been apart of a Female Engadgement Team. And I’m standing in a house made of solid concrete. 

It’s Syria.

I know it’s a dream , but I know this place.

 I recognize the familiar heat and the atmospheric smell of nicotine and gasoline. 

I’m in a small room decorated lavishly with large ruby drapes tied in the center with golden tassels and cushions on the floor to seat guests. In the center of the room there is a boy in rags, restrained by rope behind his back, kneeling, with his head down. He reminds me of my little brother. Maybe even the same age. He is the enemy, and he witnessed us taking out the terrorist threat, the same group we found him with. 

Mofit, my assist, had his rifle to the boys skull. The rest of my fire team is taking care of the rest of the group we had captured and are preparing for our relocation for the night. 

I slowly make my way over to the boy, slinging my rifle over my shoulder and removing my Kevlar to reveal myself as a woman to him. He visibly relaxes. They are not taught to fear women. This gives me an advantage. 


My arm extended, palm up, I sink onto my heels in front of him. 

“Ana ismee Samantha, shu ismac?”

I tell him my name, and ask for his. 


I smile. 

“Marhaba Mohammad.” 

I asked him if he was involved in the ambush. He says yes, but looks terrified. Poor kid, couldn’t have been more than ten years old. He had been orphaned, taken in by the very people who killed his family. But he seemed devout to their mission and claims he is not afraid of Gods plan. 

I apologize to him. 

“Ana Assif Mohammad.” 

He looks at me confused for a moment, so I place my hand on his to comfort him. He looks down and then away from me. 

I look up at Mofit. He looks calm, but I can see the discomfort in his eyes. Like he had just realized where the phrase “kill babies” came from. He had a baby boy himself not too long ago. This can’t be easy for him to see, no less to do.  

I rise up off my heels, and walk behind the boy, motioning Mofit to lower his rifle. He raises his eyebrow at me but does not argue, and slowly lowers it. I crouch behind the boy and untie his restraints but place my hand on his shoulder and tell him to remain seated. 

“Shukrun, qhalto, shukrun.” 

He thanks me as he rubs his wrists but he obeys and stays sitting. 


I ask him his age. 


Only nine. 

I ask him if he’s ever celebrated his birthday. He lowers his head and whispers that he’s never had the time to think of such selfish things like that. My mother used to say the same. I ask him to close his eyes, he does. And I start to sing Happy Birthday to him. 

“Sanahalwa yahgameen...” 

I reach to my lower back. 

“Sanahalwa yahgameen...”

I draw my knife. 

“Sanahalwa Ya, Mohammad...”

I look up at Mofit, he looks away.


I slit his throat. 


I wipe my blade. 


I wake up. Heart racing. Because I know I’m capable of it. Should it surprise me? How much I dream of war. How much I crave it. It should at least bother me, but it doesn’t.  I’ve had dreams like this before. So real that I’m left wondering if I’m living through someone else a memories. Someone else’s life. 

So vivid, it can’t possibly be just a fluke of an imaginative mind. 



Written July 2014.