It has been a long, hot and lazy day and is shaping up to be a warm and quiet evening. It's that time of day right now when everything becomes still; the day teeters for a lengthening, breathless time between morning and evening.
I sat outside on the deck for a while and read. I had dragged the chair out into the hot sunshine and read with my sunglasses on. I could hear a dog bark a few yards down, but only once and half heartedly. I heard the faint tinkling of the ice cream truck from several streets away.
Earlier I had made a visit to the library armed with every one's suggestions, but not a single author was available. Not even Margaret Atwood. What god forsaken library doesn't carry a single one of Margaret Atwood's books? One located in a strip mall, that's what.
Weeks ago I got tired of wearing the same old heavy clothes I'd been wearing all winter. Today I wore a black jersey dress that dips low enough in front to reveal completely Keith's dog tag; normally it stays hidden under at least a few layers. I probably won't do this again; the combination of cleavage and silver icon was, I think, too much of something altogether.
He called this morning, out of the blue. The call showed "Unknown caller," which sometimes indicates credit card companies. Sundry and unsuspecting credit card representatives have been greeted by me in tones of joyous excitement. I'm sure it came as a refreshing break from the usual for them.
The left side of my jaw has been throbbing with a slowly increasing pain that I finally decided I could ignore no longer. The oral surgeon who had seen me months ago warned me that it must come out and was only a matter of time before it got completely infected.
If I can stand it another two weeks, my mother can fly out to be with me while I have the surgery. This time I'll be put completely under, IV drip and all. If it gets really bad sooner, my mom will fly out regardless. I day dream about taking a scalpel to the tooth, prying it out.
I'd written Keith to say I was holding back a certain portion of his salary to pay for my mother's ticket and what the insurance wouldn't cover, if that was alright with him. He called before heading out just to tell me in no uncertain terms that of course it was ok and he'd wanted me to get it taken care of a long time ago and it would be good for me to see my mother.
"If you want to, and I'm not sayin' you haf' to, but if you want to," began Keith in a voice that was inviting and suspiciously innocent, "...you could take the sheets off the HD and the fourwheeler and take some pictures. But only if you wanted to."
It turns out that I did want to, very much and have sent off several pictures to him, a few of me sitting on the seat of the four wheeler. I had forgotten how far off the ground that seat is. I remembered the sun lacing the path with shadows and the hot wind against my face and the sound of the motor filling my head.
Mostly I remember the sensation of yielding completely, having no control over the machine and simply floating over and around all the obstacles in our way. I won't uncover the machines again; it was simply too strange to do so and not have him there, planted firmly to the earth by his steel toed boots, turning his head to spit and wiping his hands on a rag.
He has been dreaming of me, good dreams. He often does and I'm jealous. My dreams are no where near as clear and real as his. What dream self of mine goes out to meet him without me?
"I am mission oriented now," he wrote me. For the first time in the entire deployment he feels like he is doing what he is suppose to be doing; living in tents and going on missions and not doing his laundry. The location makes me uneasy, but mostly I just don't think about it.
He's heard a rumor of coming home a month earlier; mostly he doesn't tell me these things so the fact that he did stands out to me; maybe he really will. I try not to think about that too much either.
I have by now entirely convinced myself of the existence of two completely different Iraqs. This happened very soon after he left; like double images that come from crossing one's eyes.
Therefore, everything bad that I hear about is happening in the other Iraq. It is not happening where Keith is now. I have no idea what I will do when he is deployed to the other country. I think there would be no form of self deception strong enough to ward off that reality; I will have to reach for something stronger.
I suspect that when I have him home again the two countries will collide into one with such force that I will be struck trembling and dumb with the accumulated terror. I don't think about that too much either, or the illusion will disappear. With all the things I'm busy not thinking about it's a wonder I have space in my head for anything else. That must be why I read so much.
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