“I got your letters, but I knew I couldn’t write you. Not really. I remember vague explanations of cheap alcohol and the playing cards we made ourselves, drawing the same naked woman on the back of each one. I wanted war to sound better than it was because if you believed it, maybe I could.
I lived, not just in your letters, but in mine too. They weren’t lies, really. Just embellished stories of camaraderie to make everything feel more like home.”
I know John still thinks I’m his wife once the sun goes down, but sometimes I forget. There will be long periods of time where he talks as if it doesn’t matter that I’m a stranger. But of course, I’m not. I’m a memory that has left him in fragments. Pieces of him remember the woman he loved, and pieces of him want to move ahead. It’s the leading, I cannot do. How do I help him forward if I haven’t experienced his past? There is only one past and when it is remembered, it is tainted. The future has no place for it.
“I understand,” I said through the vents, but in reality I can’t ever.
“I was never so alone as I was in Korea. We were supposed to have each other’s back, but I trusted no one. Jackson reeked of alcohol most of the time and when he wasn’t fighting our own troops, he was planning. You could tell just by the way he looked at people. He sized us up to see who would fight back. I knew not to seem alone by staying with the others, but I was lost.
In the dead of night, we moved. We had to keep quiet while climbing hills through the fog. Direction was felt in the ache of our knees. I was grateful to hear the others were close by, but I was terrified. I wasn’t always sure it was them crunching through the grass. How do you understand if what you hear is what you know if what you see is nothing?
In the morning, when we used to drive to your parents for Christmas, do you remember the fog? Do you remember seeing only a few feet in front of the Buick? Remember how the light just made it worse? I remember you once tried to turn on the radio and I yelled at you. I don’t know what I said, but I remember saying it over and over. I remember how you jumped.”
I tell John that I remember these things because it seems like the right thing to do. I feel as if a part of me has hijacked his wife’s past so that I can catch up to John’s future, but I know that’s not true. Instead, I am recreating a past that he is recreating himself. Together we merge toward the sun.