*Everything below is complete fiction, so don't get the wrong idea...
The M4 carbine is heavier than it should be, but so is the dying body strapped to his back, tied together in a fireman's carry as he makes his way through the deserts of one country on his way to the deserts of another. He's crying, and he knows he'll never admit that to anyone, but in the moment, he can't deny it. Can't even justify it as a result of exhaustion, a side effect of being alive, a reminder that life is beautiful. Even then, as young he is, he knows he's seen too much, learned too much, and he'll never feel comfortable again.
"Hey." It's a whisper from a dying man. One that wants to be ignored. "Hey... leave me here. Please, just leave me here. I don't want to take you with me."
"Fuck you," is all he can reply. And he continues to walk. Until sunset becomes sunrise. Until a dying friend is already dead. Until his legs are numb. Until it's all over.
Except... it'll never be over.
She yells at him and he laments the realization that she's not someone who'll ever understand. She's not someone who really cares. He's come close to telling her the truth many times, but her flippant attitude, her childish response to everything outside of her realm of comprehension, her defiance at his way of thinking... he's never told her. He figures out that he doesn't really want to tell her. If she really cared, she'd care to ask.
But she's not someone who'll ever understand.
It's a strange phone call in the middle of the night. He recognizes the international calling code. Israel. Even before he answers the phone, he knows who's calling. He answers in French, as she, too, speaks French. It's been a joke between them since both were barely out of their teenaged years.
She tells him his daughter is sick. But, still, she doesn't want him to meet her. She just thought he should know.
His girlfriend at the time wonders why he's in a sour mood. She even cusses him out for it. He refuses to let her see him cry.
It's another world... another life... one he doesn't want to share. Doesn't see the need to.
He's on a film set, working a new job, wearing new shoes not quite broken in. His heels are bleeding. He's waiting for his ride home. He's being yelled at on the phone. Nobody knows what's going on in his head. Nobody knows the tragedy he's pretending didn't happen. Then again, nobody cares.
After all, his ride - his girlfriend - is yelling at him for being a selfish prick.
He smiles at the transportation coordinator on set who was kind enough to offer him a ride home. He declines... instead, walking three blocks out of his way with bleeding heels in order to placate someone who doesn't understand.
C'est la vie.
It's another desert. He's trying to relive a life he left long ago. But he needs it. He needs it to feel young again. Too many friends have passed on to the next life. Too many friends... He should've been there. Could he have made a difference? Probably not, and he knows it.
That doesn't change the fact that he wishes he'd have been there.
As the dust storm envelops his position, he closes his eyes and pulls the drawstrings of his hood tight. He's lonely. Another thing he'll never admit to. But, for now, he believes he's where he should be.
A group of actors file out of his living room. He's still incredulous. These people - famous, talented people - just read one of his scripts in his home. His fucking living room.
Silently, he asks... What did I do to deserve this?
He answers himself. Nothing. Nothing at all.
It's almost enough to make him cry.
His aching foot wakes him up yet again, and he limps to the kitchen to grab some painkillers. His loyal dog looks upon him, and there's a sympathetic understanding. Pain is universal.
Irony sets in as the medicine takes effect. It's not even his dog.
Neither are the two cats who try to cuddle with him as he falls into a drug-induced sleep.
"So, what do you do?" the tall, beautiful Colombian-American asks him.
"I try to write," he asks, much to the surprise of his friend and business partner. He usually answers "nothing" to such questions.
"You're a writer?" she asks.
"I write. I am not a writer." He looks at her. She's not the most beautiful woman he's ever seen, but she's the most perfect.
And he knows he'll never have her. It's not the time. Not yet.
He hears the sound again. A strange, rubber-band like sound. His friend, Joe, looks up at him, confused.
"Dude, you might want to get down."
"Why?" he asks.
"Those are bullets."
Slightly embarrassed, he drops prone, thanking Joe as he does so. Joe had been in combat before and knew the sounds. It's a lesson learned right on time.
"Who are you? I mean, really?" she asks.
It's been a while since they've talked. He's apathetic. She's moved on. What-the-fuck-ever. He doesn't even know why she called. It's all so strange to him. But, then, he's drunk. His curiosity gets the best of him. There's a small satisfaction in the realization that she still hasn't found what she's looking for. He knows she never will. She claims otherwise.
At the end of the day, one will be proven right. He's certain it will be him.
"What are you talking about?" he asks in return. "I'm nobody."
It may sound like self-deprecation, but it isn't. It's simply a fact.
He stands over the unmarked grave of a friend he can't tell people he ever had. Such is their lives, their occupations, their decisions. Entire lifetimes lived, but never recorded. Never admitted to. Never acknowledged.
And... strangely... these men don't seem to care. It's what they do. It's who they are.
The unknown. The shadows. The ghosts. Those who cry before they fall asleep at night... but never when someone's watching. No. Never when someone's watching. The weight of the world is on their shoulders, after all, and nobody forced them to carry it.
"I miss you," he says, to no one in particular.
As the wind blows his words into nothingness, he sips a glass of cheap Merlot. And smiles.