Without Any Fear

I woke up early, not because of the news but because I couldn’t sleep.

Somewhere in my mind, I could still hear the sound of escaping helicopters and above them, dark shapes of planes that should never have existed.

The fact that this seemed to be my only reaction to yesterday’s letter that they stopped searching for Billy, scared me. A jumble of odd images from hours of television last night and imagined memories of what it was like for Billy.

What he did …

Frances was still asleep and I didn’t care to wake her. I had practiced many times sneaking out of our kitchen-sink-sized apartment to fetch bread at the small bakery on Columbus and 71st. I wish I had my own bed. I wish I had more clothes. I wish I didn’t need to stay here.

I go to Central Park instead of getting anything to eat and sit down by The Lake, far away from the tourists and other people who seem to think this doozy morning is normal. It is anything but.

I close my eyes and see him. He is dead, and yet he is still alive. I open my eyes and see a man with a cheerful brunette passing by, hand in hand. I see a child playing in the grass that smells of fresh dew and looks like a piece of another world that doesn’t belong here. Somewhere beyond skyscrapers and the foreboding spires of the Dakota.

But it’s not. I’m the piece.

And he will never come home again. And the war is finally over.