Mitch looks at her watch again. She takes a final look in the mirror, her dress uniform nicely pressed. She hears the horn of the taxi and grabs her hat. As she heads to the door she curses.

"Medals"

Mitch opens up the draw to her cupboard and feels around the clothes.. "Fuck, fuck, where did I put them"

She opens the next one down, feeling roughly when she felt a sharp prick into her wrist. She withdraws quickly and shakes her hand. She looks at it, small droplets of blood. Her eyes started to blur and her head was beginning to burn, she felt dazed.

She looks down at her feet surprised to see a syringe. She gingerly picks it up, the pain worsening as each second went by. It was one that had been missed, stuck in her clothing, and she had just accidently injected herself.

The taxi horn went again, Mitch started to stagger, her breathing erratic as she panics. She tries to make it to the phone but collapses just short. Mitch's body convulsing, slowly subsiding to twitching, then all movements ceased.

***

Sasha was the last one to board, she was furious. Mitch had let her down. She thought Mitch could handle it, be there for her.

"This is unforgivable Michelle" she wipes an escaping tear as she boards the carrier.

***

Sasha was a week into her journey to the foreign shores of Iraq, still hurting deeply by Mitch's desertion. After everything she had done for her, to have Mitch abandon her, Sasha doubts if she could ever forgive her.

"Hey Private Howe, Captain want to see you"

Sasha salutes the lieutenant and makes her way below.

"Enter" barks her Captain

Sasha enters and salutes, he returns and asks her to sit.

She was worries why she had been summoned, and waits in silence.

The captain retrieves a small yellow package from his desk and takes a moment.

"Private.....Sasha" he finishes off softly.

Sasha was greatly concerned for him to call her by her first name. She wonders what she had possibly done wrong.

"It is with great sadness I must inform you that Major Michelle Collins has died"

Sasha shifts in her seat "Ummm begging your pardon Sir" asking him to repeat because she wasn't sure she had heard right.

He nods "I'm afraid so, I received correspondence today, and this package is addressed to you."

Sasha sat back stunned "I.... but how"

"I am not privy to that information, but I suspect your questions will be answers in here."

He hands the package over to her. Sasha holds it, stares at. She still hadn't got pass Mitch was dead. They must have her mixed up with someone else, they got it wrong obviously.

Captain was well aware of the impact it would have on Sasha.

"You take the time you need to deal with this Private Howe. Deal with your grief on here, right here and now because once we land, there will be no time. You have to leave it on the ship, do you understand?"

Sasha stares at him blankly, nods slowly.

"Take whatever time you need to deal with Mitch's death, but deal with it before you get off this ship, do you understand Private Howe?" requesting a verbal response now.

Sasha snaps back to reality "Yes sir" she stands.

"As of now Private, you are off duty until I hear otherwise, dismiss" and salutes her out.

***

Sasha in a daze makes her way to the top of the deck. She walks slowly to the furthers part of the stern of the ship. Sasha sits down where she slightly shaded and away from the many crew members, she needed privacy. Sasha rests back and closes her eyes taking numerous deep breaths, she didn't want to open the envelop. They had the wrong woman, this wasn't Mitch, it had to be a mistake. Her face screws up and eyes water, it had to be. She rips open the yellow envelop and pulls out a letter.

The letter was from Connor.

Dear Sasha

I'm sorry I have to give you this bad news, especially since you've just started your tour. Mitch was found dead in her home a few days ago, a drug overdose has been determined as the cause,

As soon as Sasha read that she screws up the letter "You fucking bitch" she screams. She was about to throw the letter over board but changes her mind and held it, scrunched into a tight ball. After a few minutes she got the courage to read the rest.

but, the coroner has ruled it as an accident. Somehow she managed to inject herself in a spot she would not normally do so. After all the information gathered, he ruled it as tragic and accidental.

Sasha closes her eyes and takes a deep breath to compose herself, her tears were already staining the letter. She reads on.

She was found in her house, in her dress uniform and I can only imagine she must have been on her way to see you off when this unfortunate event occurred.

In the days that led up to your deployment we chatted quite a lot, and although her fears of your deployment was always evident, Mitch expressed to me how proud she was of you. You gave her the strength, the conviction and the will to go on. You gave her something to live for.

Mitch had very few personal possessions, so I have enclosed a few things that you may wish to keep. I am very, very sorry for you loss Sasha.

Stay safe, yours sincerely

Connor Sanders

***

Sasha shakily got to her feet. She rips the letter into tiny pieces and throw it overboard, watching them scatter as if ashes, into the sea. Sasha tips up the envelop and out fell two medals. She studies them closely for a few moments, and then lets them drop overboard. They never meant anything to Mitch, so they had no meaning to her.

The last item to slip out was her chain and two dog tags. Sasha held her hand over board, the chain starts to slip when Sasha changes her mind and pulls it back up, wrapping it around her fingers. This possession meant something to Mitch, because although she was angry, depressed at all that she had been put through, she never took them off. Sasha had seen Mitch from time to time hold them when she was in need of some comfort.

Sasha brought them to her lips and kisses them. She could smell the faint aroma of Mitch's cologne. She opens the breast pocket of her uniform and slides the chain and tags in. She clips it back down, patting her pocket.

She wipes away her continuing tears and looks out to sea.

"I forgive you"

The end