top of page
  • Writer's pictureJoy Slaughter

2 Nangalam, Afghanistan


This series of blog posts was developed for the Fine Literature Book Club on Facebook. Crossing the Line was their April 2022 group read, and I was honored to lead the discussion.

Page 17

In the last chapter, we saw the first signs of Megan’s primary conflict.

In this chapter, we learn more about Nathan.

Nathan was an Army medic who was deployed to Afghanistan. He is not a doctor, but Army medics are commonly called “Doc” by the personnel around them.

I do not have military experience. A brief stint as the Cadet of Aerospace Education in Civil Air Patrol was enough to inform me that I would not be a good fit. To write this section, I watched hours of patrols on YouTube and consulted a friend of mine, Eric Johnson, who served in Afghanistan. He was based in Nangalam in the Pech District of the Kunar province (sound familiar?). I’ve attached a map to this post that shows where that is. Eric is also an author, so here’s a link to his available works of military sci-fi:

While deployed, Nathan’s girlfriend, Heather, dumps him. Nathan destroys her letter in a burn pit which is the same kind of burn pit that has been in the news lately relating to veteran health:

In addition to Nathan’s experience in the Army and the IED that leads to his limb loss, we see him interact with Sam, his roommate who works as a radiology technician. Here, we finish the introductory arc that explains Nathan’s primary conflict.

Nathan emphasizes what he is looking for: loyalty (unlike the disloyalty displayed by Heather).


“Who’s your partner?”

“Megan Henderson.”

Sam pursed his lips. “I know guys who’d kill for that.”

“She’s married.”

“I know guys who don’t give a damn about that.”

“Well, I do. A spouse should be loyal.”


Have you served in the military?

What feelings were evoked when reading this chapter?

Sam is named in honor of a classic character. And ideas which Sam that might be?


bottom of page