IN THE GRIND

by mcee

***

The rattle of machine guns above him blurs to a sharp trill and the shells are raining down on Eversmann like so many little bad-luck charms. He feels the sprinkle of hot metal on his shoulders, the cooler bite of barbed wire slicing at the dusty fabric of his sleeve (suddenly paper-thin, it seems), the burn of the sand shooting through the thick soles of his boots.

But none of this is as incapacitating as the glare of the sun in his eyes, even through the goggles, made worse by the eclipse of the rim of his helmet, the one bearing his name scratched in black marker, in case, in case.

There's a point where the din of war becomes nothing more than a distant rumble, one you can feel all the way down to your bones, pulsing behind your eyes.

Eversmann is ready. His muscles want to go, the adrenaline is pushing through his veins in a dizzying frenzy. He's terrified and confident and ready. But before he moves, before this thing truly begins, he spares a second for one comforting thought, the one thing to keeps him grounded, keeps him focused, keeps him alive.

//Two milks, one sugar, Grimesy. He says it's all in the grind. Eversmann couldn't care less, but smiles and nods and wraps his fingers around the cheap ceramic, grateful for desk jobs and fast fingers and freakish fixations.//

He thinks he would need two sugars this time, to rid himself of the sharp taste of bile on the roof of his mouth.