“Gibson, can we go for a walk?” Sergeant Evans waved in such a way to indicate that wasn’t an option.
Gibson nodded, “Yes Sergeant.” She then followed him outside
Evans started walking and made a few inane comments about the weather while they walked out of the camp and made their way into the rubble and he got to the point, “How old are you Gibson?”
“Sergeant?” Gibson paused, “I’m nineteen.”
“What year were you born?”
Gibson paused a moment screwed up her face while trying to count back.
Shaking his head, Evans said, “How old are you actually?”
“Sixteen sergeant,” Gibson looked down in defeat, “Don’t send me home Sergeant. I can’t go home.”
“You shouldn’t be here kid. You’re too young for it,” Evans kicked a broken piece of concrete, “You should be back with your family.”
“They hated me there Sergeant. You ever notice how I never receive letters from home and never send them?” Gibson looked west, as if the Western Desert were just over the horizon, “My parents are both smart. They’re both educated. I’m not. Failed every class I ever did. My father…” Gibson looked down, “Hit me. Beat me. I can’t go home Sergeant. And if they find out I’ve been fighting for Ethslin…”
“Why wouldn’t they want you fighting for our country?”
“They’re patriots. They want a free Western Desert. I’m sure Lance Corporal McGilligan could tell you about it. It’s a big movement. When my parents found out that I was keeping newspaper clippings… About you Sergeant. I said I wanted to marry someone like you Sergeant. A hero. A good father… They hit me. Nearly killed me. Mother said I was to marry a good patriot. They ‘arranged’ something for the next day. Said that he’d make a ‘proper’ woman out of me. I snuck out and ran for the next train. Hopped on board and left. If I go back there, at best I’m gonna be dead Sergeant.”
“So you’re nineteen Gibson… That your real name kid?”
“It is now Sergeant,” She smiled, “Bessie Gibson, proud Ethslin soldier. Born in 1309. I choose my family from here on out.”
“Very Well Bessie. When all this is over, I hope you find your family.”
“I already have Sergeant. Now, is that all you need to know Sergeant?”
“We’re good Bessie,” Sergeant Evans pointed back to the tent, “Now do you want to go get wasted with the 351st kid?”
“Get drunk with my dad?”
“I’m your dad Private?”
“I’ll see you tonight dad,” Gibson did an about face and went back to the tent.