Words bubble up desperately from somewhere in my chest before falling away
and only managing something like a hiccup,
petering out into nothingness.
If I cant see it, its not there. indeed, inside our little canvas Shangri la, theres little to see other than thick, amorphous shadow.
but I can hear.
when the sounds of the war get too bad, I sit and peer towards franks corner of the tent, distinguishable by its repulsive orderliness. it is, mercifully, unoccupied. he must be giving Margaret an after-hours house call. another physical?
covertly, I make my way towards trappers bunk and pause, give a short tug on his blanket.
rolling towards the wall, he garbles a few things and pulls the pillow over his head.
I love you, too, I whisper hoarsely, trying too hard to be flippant.
hawk, trap groans, I refuse to wake up.
so dont. just make room for me.
oh, no. you kick in your sleep.
you nearly rolled on top of me. I couldnt breathe.
yeah, yeah, yeah. alright, you want a second chance?
spare me. youre disgusting when you grovel. here, Im moving over, see?
I could kiss you
please, dont. and youre rocking the cot.
after some shuffling and re-arranging we manage to arrange ourselves comfortably, though I wouldnt recommend you try this at home. leave that to professionals. army cots, you see, are not quite so spacious. surprise, I know. despite the apparent luxury of the Swamp motel with its 24/7 bar, and floor piled with old socks and germs thick as a Berber rug, the accommodations are really sub par. although they are preferable to foxholes.
I wait until trappers breathing eases off into a steady rhythm, then roll off my back and onto my side. theres a particularly loud blast, and it catches me unawares; next to me, trappers slumber continues, uninterrupted. weve all been working double, triple, quintuple shifts since they kicked the fighting up a notch.
the difference is, I cant close my eyes without having nightmares. I have them with my eyes open, too, only those are real.
shaking slightly, I pillow my head on one arm and sling the other over trappers side. were curled together under the blanket, and its some comfort sleeping with someone who cant hear the shelling; it helps me pretend I cant, either.
if it gets too loud, thundering as though the sky is splitting like an arctic ice sheet, about to come crashing down in a million pieces, I can always press my hands against my ears and close my eyes tightly shut, shapeless color flickering in and out of focus, stars dancing behind my eyelids.
impossible as it seems, time passes.
it has to.
I wait, an indifferent, disinterested passersby watching the hours wind their way through, one foot in front of the other, second by second advancing, or crawling away - whichever.
the warmth trapped under the blanket is addicting,
and I edge closer, too weary to feel surprise at how perfectly we mesh, spooned around each other, limbs tangled in disarray.
so it comes to pass that the night,
with its heavy, claustrophobic darkness and sickening soundtrack of firing guns, eventually