Cage Undone part Seven
The face was familiar and worn out at the same time. She turned slowly to look at the woman with the weapon clutched in her hands in an almost casual professional soldier sort of way. Her face was nearly expressionless even as she berated her partner. Something garbled about a pregnant sister.
Cage ran in circles trying to beat Tommy in the dizzy game and she was winning until her granda took a hold of her shoulders and stopped her.
“Tis yer birthday, join the rest of us.” He grinned and guided her wobbly body to the table. She felt like crying, she’d nearly won for a change with her little brother.
“Where are you going? We’re not done.” Her father’s tone bellowed.
She turned on him quick and fast. “We are done. It’s done and can’t be undone.”
“We are not spooks, never have been, never will be.” His tone got even louder if it were possible. “It’ll kill you.”
“Don’t you think I know that? So tell me, Da, what’s my next lesson? The one where you teach me to strike to the nose but not too hard because I might kill him? How about the one where I kick the inside of the knee to disable him?” She took a breath. “You have taught me to be the perfect little soldier since I could walk. Do you not trust me now? So, I’m not going to be a striped sleeve, but then my Da is a ‘walk on water Sergeant Major in fucking Special Ops’. How the hell am I supposed to rate to that? I don’t have a face or a life of my own and I need that. Tommy is gonna be an MP, you’re godlike, and what the hell do I have?”
“As granda says ‘tis done’. And it is done Da. It’s hard to say, and maybe hard for you to hear, but I can’t run in your circles. I have to make my way if granda is right and I’m to be the ‘Laird’.” Her last word was harsh and derisive.
“Sit and listen,” a proud man nearly begged.
She looked right through him. “I have and this is what I have to do. You have your purple hearts and your bronze stars, Tommy will have the honor of the MP corps to keep him, but I have to find my own way.”
“I don’t want you dead.” He admitted with a head hung low.
“I’m not racing to die Sergeant Major,” she answered softly. “I’m just living up to the standard.”
Cage o+666666666666666666666666666666pened her eyes and blinked several times before she sat up amid the tangle of blankets and pillows. Checking her watch she groaned at the time. 4 a.m. “Well, this sucks.” She pushed out of the mess that was her bedding and pulled on her pj bottoms, grinning at the cartoon characters that now adorned her legs. A t-shirt followed and with nothing else to do before the rest of the world woke up she made her way down into the basement to check on her watchers.
The basement floor was only half cold on her feet as she rewound the digital feed back. She sat in the comfortable desk chair and pulled on the headphones. It suddenly struck her that while it was an odd thing to do since no one else was here to listen it was also the most natural thing in the world to her. As if she’d been doing it her whole life. She sighed. Why the hell can’t I remember? Damn it, how long till I get it all back?
Pushing the thoughts away she spent the next hour watching and listening to the revolving door of would be spies. It frustrated the hell out of her that she learned nothing new of their, whoever ‘they’ were, plans. Even their bitching and moaning was boring. At least she had been inventive in voicing her boredom on surveillance missions.
She stopped cold and wondered what kind of surveillance she had conducted. The headache that she hadn’t had in a least a week was starting back with a vengeance. Cage rolled back from the desk and took the steps up to the main floor. Trying to decide on beer, coffee or the headache pain meds she tried not to think about why the headache was back. The doctors had told her that the headaches might follow her through life since she’s been hit in the head so many times.
5 a.m. and she was going nowhere fast. All she wanted was to know what had happened in Bosnia but the more she tried to remember the more pain she found for herself. For the first time in a while she felt like one of those animals in the zoo, walking in circles. Trapped in the hospital she’d felt confined, at home with her parents she’d felt smothered and restricted, and now in the dark of the near dawn she felt as though there were bars on all the exit points.
She paced back and forth across the living room for a while then stepped out on to the front porch. The early dawn breeze did nothing to ease her discomforting feeling. The wind danced across her skin raising the hair on her arms and the back of her neck. She took a sip of coffee and wished that it were hotter, if only to warm her for a moment.
To her left the Gentleman Owl sounded off with a deep, hollow sound. Haunting was the descriptor that came to her mind. Haunting. Cage decided that it was an apt choice of words. Right now she was certainly that. Never in the entire time working Intelligence did she ever feel truly bad or guilty for doing the things that she had done, out right lying in many cases to the people she was chasing, but now she did feel something she couldn’t really define for what she could not remember. Maybe it was karma boomerang. If she could only remember then maybe just maybe she could make some sense of it.
She shook her head slowly and then sat down. Staring up at the stars she felt the weight of not knowing on her shoulders. So she did the only thing she knew how to do. She stalked into the middle of the grass and sank down into a cross-legged seat. She took a long time to regulate her breathing, to steady her heartbeat, to center the rage and frustration.
Her head was hung down as a small drizzle began. Rainwater slid down the back of her neck, around her ears and she lifted her face after a short time to the heavens. It felt in a way like freedom, like she was a kid again free of her choices in life. Lifting her body from the ground and assuming a defensive pose she imagined her opponents. She walked through her workout by the numbers, each move each stance precise. Cage pivoted on the ball of her foot and executed a perfect arm block. She felt fluid and smooth. It was perfection. A mindless exercise that was all muscle memory.
Cage dropped to her knees when the flash of pain hit her in the middle of her forehead. It was as if that rifle butt slammed into her again. She dragged herself up on wobbly feet and retook her stance. She struck out in an offensive move, elbow perfectly angled.
The pain hit again and she buckled at the knees. Cage stood again breathing hard, nearly panting. If the old man is right I am Laird, Laird’s do not show pain. Pain is nothing, pain is just a reminder that you live, maybe not well but alive anyway.
Cage retook her combat stance. “It ain’t nothing but a thing.” She said out loud to the rain and Gentleman owl. “It ain’t nothing but a thing.” A sweeping round house kick punctuated the statement and she settled within a certain peace at the end of the sentence as her foot settled on the ground.
The smile that crossed her face in that moment was much like the smile she had worn as a child. It was easy and free of the demands of her country, her obligations and her choices. The smile was that of a child that had just won the game of ‘who can get more dizzy’ by turning in circles. For just a moment in the early false dawn Cage Quinn was free of Cage Quinn.
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