"Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what a man does with what happens to him." Aldous Huxley
It was too hot to sleep, it didn't matter that he had been on his feet for close to twenty hours straight, and it didn't matter that likely he would do the same come morning. Taking a drag off the cigarette he held, Luka pulled the smoke deep into his lungs and found himself wishing it was something stronger.
"Dr. Luka, you should get some sleep." He turned at the sound of Patrique's voice in the darkness then shook his head as the man moved to stand beside him.
"I will." He held the cigarette up so it could be seen.
"Just finishing this. Why aren't you sleeping?" He took another pull before looking over at him again.
"I was just making sure everything was stocked for the morning clinic, we will have many patients I think." He grew silent as he finished, weighing his next words carefully.
"Dr. Luka, may I ask you something?" Where he had only been halfway listening when he started talking Luka found something in the question drawing his full attention and he turned to him before responding.
"Of course." He took a final drag on the cigarette before letting it drop and crushing it under his boot.
"Many who come here, cannot take what they see, but you, it is different for you." He stopped short of asking the reason for that, but the question was left hanging in the darkness nonetheless, and neither man could ignore it.
"Yeah...it's different" Luka sighed, then rubbed his hand across the stubble of beard on his face.
"When I was young...still a medical student, my Country went to war, you don't want to believe it can happen to you, I mean, it only happens other places right?" He flicked his tongue over his lips as his mouth grew increasingly drier.
"It doesn't matter how much they teach you, nothing can prepare you for a child who has had their leg blown off, or for trying to treat patients when you don't have electricity or running water. Until you see it first-hand you can't really know what it's like, and then it's too late, because by then you know that no matter what you do, how hard you work, it'll all happen again, and all that changes is the location." His voice had grown quieter the longer he spoke and his gaze had traveled out across the compound, though he didn't really seem to be seeing it.
"Dr. Luka?" Patrique touched his arm as he went silent.
"Go to sleep Patrique, I'm going to smoke another cigarette, then I'll try to get some rest myself, I promise." He fished the pack from his pocket as he finished and tapped a filter free, only to slide it between his lips, letting the match illuminate his profile for the few seconds it took to ignite it.
"You won't stay out too long?" The man watched him for a moment before moving.
"No...not too long." Luka looked away from the man then took a pull on the cigarette as he listened to the sound of his retreating footsteps, if only his words were true.