Salsa Verde

Anna Adams

When he’d first arrived at the base, Jack was afraid. He was scared of the things he might see, what he might do, which of his new friends wouldn’t make it, and whether or not he himself would return home to his family. Those first few nights were filled with nightmares and his leg had jackhammered up and down for weeks. But he had been in the jungle for six months now and these worries had evaporated into thin air. They hadn’t been replaced or overcome, but erased. In fact, everything that had once occupied his mind was gone without a trace. Every memory, fascination, anxiety, and affection had seeped out of his pores with his sweat, dissolving into the vapor that permeated the jungle.

He had enough reasons to go crazy, he knew. During his time here, he had seen enough death and destruction to drive any man to insanity. Many of his brothers in arms here had done just that. So why did he feel… nothing? As many times as he’d receded into his mind, searching for the feelings he knew he should find, he found nothing. Nothing, that is, except for green.

It was the shade of green that was inescapable in the jungle. It filled his thoughts and his dreams so completely that lately he couldn’t tell if he was awake or sleeping. Everything blurred together into the green of the jungle, making a thick sauce that gummed up the folds and creases of his brain. It traveled through his blood too, into his extremities where it colored the skin of his hands and his knees where they touched the ground as he crawled through green underbrush.

Lately, he had taken to bad habits like using strong language and taking strong coffee and cigarettes in the mornings, wishing they would ignite a feeling that he could hold onto but eventually they all faded to green.

The only thing in his life that wasn’t green was the angry orange fire that his company used to destroy the villages that they came across along with the people in them. He trudged along in his green life, interrupting it with bursts of orange, leaving behind black craters which would soon be filled again with green.

He was sure of only one thing. It was unclear now whether this thought was his own or if it had grown into his mind from the jungle, but it was there all the same. He was sure now that he would not make it home to his family. He would die here, in the jungle, and it would consume him. Soon, Jack would be nothing. Nothing, that is, except for green.