TOUCHING THE VOID
I held two bricks in my hands—once clay, risen to the top of the Shomali Plains from the deep igneous rock of this region, eons ago, mixed with sand, and formed in one of the dozens upon dozens of brick factories that plumed great black smoke cauldrons. Those rising stacks that we would fly around—like a giant slalom race in the skies in our helicopters—were erected, pointing upward amongst the people of the greater city of Kabul, a millennia after this clay was birthed to the surface. Molded and shaped for utility in time and the two bricks did not seem heavy, but I knew they would grow in weight the farther I ran that morning.
This was the sharp edge of life, there in that moment, the closing of gaps between people at their worst, and the joining of souls in fellowship and trust at its apex. In that intimacy of war, we truly live for a brief moment, knowing eventually we all return, committing our body to the ground, to ash, and to dust.
MEET PETER QUINN
Peter Quinn is a former army helicopter pilot and intelligence officer with numerous combat tours in Afghanistan, some of which was spent living with the Afghans, working for the DEA, NATO and U.S. Special Operations. His previous publications include “Touching the Void,” in the 20th Anniversary Edition of BlazeVOX (December 2020). He is currently polishing a collection of true stories for publication based on his time living and working and fighting alongside the great Ghilzai warriors in his last tour of many to Afghanistan, where his heart remains. These stories have been cleared for publication by the Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review.
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An Organ of Two
My heart is not a singular organ. It beats for want of the flow of Love to it, through it, for it, and for others. My heart was ill-stitched, tethered to places of war, people who are now a part of me. It was formed into more, for love of my son, my daughters, loved ones, lovers. But now, for the first time in my life, it is no longer my own. You are my heart, and that love that flows through it, widens in berth, now born anew. You are the river that keeps it growing, nurtured and sustained, welled up in me, springing a life never known, forth. An organ of two.
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Isaiah 6:8 (NIV)