MEG’S BROTHERS WERE lucky. They joined the army when they turned eighteen: first Liam, then Stuart. When reveille sounded, they sat up in their bunks and pulled on their boots. They washed their faces with a towel dipped in cold water, raised their arms and rolled on deodorant, then drained cups of sugary coffee in the mess hall. They weren’t required to consider existential questions; they simply had to do their jobs.
When Meg’s alarm sounded, she felt like a caterpillar, safe on the underside of a leaf. The central air kept her cool, so she slept cocooned in blankets. She sat up and lifted the window blind to look out at the night sky. It had a brown tinge: suspended dust. She’d seen the same sky two months earlier, on the night she’d arrived in Abu Dhabi.