“For A Moment, I Was Seen” by Rocio Iribe

The Marines were coming again. They had been here for years fighting a war they say we had started. I couldn’t tell you much about that, but the sight of them was something I’d gotten used to. Now, standing in front of my house, I could see the outline of their monster vehicles approaching, smoke billowing behind.

I went inside and walked to the back of the house. It was better to be out of the way.

The Marines had arrived. I could hear my husband talking to them. My house was surrounded by Marines with rifles, their monster vehicles arranged neatly in a row.   Two Marines entered the back room. I wondered what they were doing here.  Nobody ever talked to me. When they took off their helmets, I saw that they were women. I didn’t know Marines could be women! The one with the dark skin was in charge. I could tell. Her eyes were focused and alert, but they also looked kind, honest and kind. I thought that if anyone would listen to me, she would be the one. “Excuse me Miss,” I said. “Would you like a tour of my house?” I asked as I pointed outside. She turned, smiled, and followed me outside.

As we walked, I pointed out all of the native plants. I told her I’d lived in that house for a very long time, that all the people from my neighborhood were good people. I took her to my kitchen ,where I had a whole chicken cooking over a fire pit. “Isn’t this fire pit impressive? I dug it myself! It took me a long time. Do you like chicken?” She was looking intently at me, nodding and smiling. My husband never paid much attention to me, so it was nice finally to have someone listen to me.

I was beginning to wonder whether we might possibly become friends, when she suddenly took a camera out of her pocket. She pointed to me, then to herself, then to the camera. “Yes!” I said. I called my son over, who took a photo of the two of us next to my impressive fire pit.  Meanwhile, I could see other Marines with rifles yelling and waving at us, as if they were trying to get her attention, but I didn’t care. I’d made a friend. The woman with the dark skin and kind eyes was going to be my friend.

My son handed her back the camera and I thanked her sincerely. I was telling her how much it meant to have another woman around to talk to when finally she noticed the Marines who had been yelling and waving. She whipped around and gasped. When she turned back to look at me, the kindness in her eyes was gone. Looking at me like a stranger again, she backed away, waving her hands and shaking her head.  Then she spun around and walked quickly back to the house. “Wait, what happened? What did they say? Why are you leaving?,” I yelled as I tried to catch up with her. I stopped. It was over. The woman with the dark skin and kind eyes was gone. And I was alone again, friendless, ignored, forgotten.

Rocio Iribe served eight years on active duty in the United States Marine Corps. She was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2008-2009, with 9th Engineer Support Battalion and Operation Enduring Freedom in 2013 and 2014, with Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1. She is from Los Angeles, California, and is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in Art History, with an emphasis on Architecture and the Environment at the University of California, Santa Barbara.