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“I can feel the burning,” she cried. “It hurts now.”

“I’m sorry,” Scott said, lifting her under her arm.

“I can walk,” she said.

“No, you can’t. You have a bad leg injury.”

Someone called that there were no stretchers, so they carried Bridget into what was left of the clinic. They laid Bridget on a table, and a female in fatigues came in to see her.

“I’m Doctor Singh,” she said, shocked as she unwrapped the green t-shirt off Bridget’s leg.

“I’m a nurse,” Bridget said, needing to tell them so they wouldn’t pussyfoot around her. “I need the truth.”

Grimacing when the doctor saw the extent of Bridget’s injuries, she’d do what she could.

“You need surgery, but that’s impossible right now.” She reached for exam gloves. “Lieutenant, your leg is dangling by a thread of tissue. I need to tie off your artery so you don’t bleed to death. We don’t have an OR here, but I don’t want to take the chance of trying to find a hospital that isn’t in the middle of fighting.”

“Are they fighting everywhere?” Bridget whispered.

“Yes,” Dr. Singh said. “I’ll give you a local anesthetic, but that isn’t going to prevent you from feeling pressure. Can you lie still?” Bridget nodded.

All she wanted to do was sleep anyway, and she told the doctor that.

“We’ll put an oxygen mask on you and that will feel good.” Bridget nodded.

“I’m going to lose my leg?” she asked.

The doctor brushed the hair out of Bridget’s eyes.

“Yes, I’m sorry. It’s pretty much detached already, dear, so this won’t take long.”

“We need to stop chatting so we can get the hell out of here,” one of the Marines shouted.

Bridget was aware of the stinging as the doctor poured cold solution over her leg. Then she felt a sting where the doctor injected local anesthetic in a circle around her knee. The Marine held Bridget’s head, whispering to her she would be okay, that they’d watch over her.

A corpsman dressed her eye wound, and Bridget saw him grimace. “Is it bad?”

“You’ll be okay,” he said. “I just want to keep it clean.”

After putting sterile gloves on, the doctor tied off her popliteal artery and vein, a few more bleeders in the area, trimmed up the tattered muscle, and closed the wound with heavy silk suture.

“Who’s going along with her?” the doctor asked.

“She’ll be with us,” Scott answered, a disembodied voice arguing with him. “There’s no place to take her locally, and we can’t leave her here.”

“I can’t cover the bone completely,” the doctor said, ignoring the arguing. “I’ll give you a box of bone wax and sterile gloves. Someone is going to have to put gloves on and keep the end of this bone covered with bone wax and a sterile dressing until you get her to an OR.”

“We’ll head to the border, like everyone else,” a voice said. “I hope we can take care of her.”

The only awareness Bridget had over the next twenty-four hours was of fighting pain. The bombed roads on the ride to Kabul were strewn with debris, pot-holed from being slammed with bombs and the aftermath of mines detonated.

Once they arrived, the nurses rushed Bridget to the OR where a trauma surgeon cut the ragged bone off and the leg wound was properly closed. They placed what was left of her leg in a cast to protect the wound.

Twenty percent of her body had second-degree burns with small areas of third degree. It was possible she’d lose her left eye. Everything was out of her control.

“Is someone notifying my family?” she asked for the tenth time. “I have an infant. Her father will be frantic if he doesn’t hear from me.”

Relieved, she remembered she’d changed her DD-Form 93 to notify Luke first in case of death or injury.

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