I can see the world wobbling and waving in front of me as I lie flat and still on my stomach. It’s so hot that even the tar from the road is losing water.

My head feels light and my breath comes in short bursts.

Shoulders tight, stomach churning, butt cheeks clenched.

One lonely drop of perspiration tracks its way from my hairline under my hat, down past my eyebrow, ducking in towards my eye as I squint, then quickly out again and over my cheek.

My muscles twitch as it passes my lips, set firm now with determination and effort, and catches on my jawline for an interminable second before tumbling, plummeting to the ground.

I’m the sniper. My whole unit is depending on me.

My eyes narrow, searching through my gun scope for the enemy.

What’s that? Something flicks in and out of my peripheral vision. I miss it. I start to second-guess myself. Nah, it’s nothing. Just a bird or a leaf. Refocus.

Gotta stay sharp. Gotta stay focused. What was that?

I jerk my head sharply right. There was a noise. There was definitely a noise.



I’m hit. I’m too shocked to even think of an expletive. And I’m angry. How the hell did that happen? I’m better than that.

Now I can feel the pain radiating out across my chest. Goddamnit it hurts. I look down at my chest.

Direct hit to the heart.

I see it now. The liquid oozes through my shirt. Mum’s not going to be happy about that. Who’s idea was it to go paintballing anyway?

©Asha Rajan

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