His voice made me jump, as I turned to see my LT standing underneath one of the planted trees. The setting sun casted an engulfing shadow over the compound and the only sound was the buzzing of the awaking street lamps. Walking closer he asks again, "So, what are you doing tonight?" I shrugged, tugging at my uniform slightly, "Not much, I was planning on going for a swim later on." He nodded and cracked his left knuckle while we stood there in awkward silence. We stared at the setting sun as it turned the sky a deep orange and listened as the prayers began.
"Cool isn't it?" I ask as he nods. The haunting melody of the Muslim prayers lift into the darkening sky and we watch as two workers drop to their knees bowing. It is beautiful and it always reminds us of where we are. How many people get to experience this in their life time? I'm completely entranced by the ritual until a voice so much sweeter breaks my concentration, "I need help Hoskins." I turn to look at him and notice the most torn expression I've ever seen. The setting sun has cast an orange hue on his face as those once sweet brown eyes turn smoldering when he looks at me.
"With what sir?" I ask and he sighs, "I'm trying to quit smoking. I really want to stop this part of my life, before any real damage is done. I've tried to stop before, but I always give in again. I've been smoking since I was 12." The smile on my face couldn't be described. I'd been wanting him to stop smoking since we got here. There are so many people that pick it up in the desert, just from sheer boredom and wanting to fit in with everyone else. It was the only unattractive quality about my officer and now he was trying to stop.
"Sir that's wonderful! I'm so happy!" I say as he smiles softly, "I was hoping you'd think so. But I need your help, there is no way I can do it by myself. So if you see me smoking or buying cigaretts, you have to stop me. Ok? I need some support on this." He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a pack. I hold out my hand as he takes a breath and slips the cancer causing substance into my waiting fingers. I break it and throw them into the trash. He closes his eyes and breathes heavily like he had just accomplished something great. I step closer and place a gentle hand on his back, "I'm proud of you sir. I'm very, very proud of you."
I was going to let my hand drop until suddenly he caught it in his and held it for a moment. The jolt of electricity I felt from his fingers stunned me as we stayed there for a moment, my eyes wide, his still closed. With a slight squeeze he drops my hand and smiles at me, "Thank you." It takes a moment for me to remember how to speak before I smile, "You did an amazing thing sir, and you deserve a reward."
"A reward?" He asks curiously. I nod and smile, "The guys and I are going to the pool later. We are going to start a game of water basketball, but it usually turns into water rugbey. It's going to be a lot of fun and you should come too!" He smiled softly and shrugged, "Ok, I'll think about it." I walk closer to him, "Now what makes you think that I'm asking?" Grabbing his hand, we both set off to the barracks to change.