War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

pulling the pin (from May Day)

Another installment of May Day, a fictional series of letters from a young woman to her lover who is serving as a Warrant Officer in Afghanistan. For a backgrounder on the project, click on the May Day icon at the right, or listen to the audio broadcast, Writing May Day


don’t know who to call. don’t know what to do. J got back from Wainwright last week. last Ex. before the desert, the dust. Afghanistan. walked into my house unannounced. face all white. “J, what’s wrong?” I asked.

he told me his chica (S.P.C.A. queen bee) picked him up at the airport. halfway home looked at him cold, said, “I’m done. we’re through. I don’t want this. I don’t want you.” drove him to my place. opened the car door. helped him unload his kit. drove off.

“what? what?” I said to J. “what’s going on? I thought you guys were solid. I saw you two together before Ex. looking like an old married couple. comfortable.”

J hardly talks. folds into my acanthus leaf chair. “me too. I didn’t see this coming. her pulling the pin.”

and I remember last Christmas chica saying about her and J, “we’re forever. no matter what.”

but J tells me chica got more antsy every time he went away to train.

I say to J, “but she knew you what she signed up for. encouraged you over and over again. I heard her say, ‘do it J, go back to Afghanistan. become again who you were meant to be.’ she was proud of you. loved to see you in your uniform. bragged about you.”

and J replies, “I guess reality happened. me being away so much. coming home exhausted and excited, distracted, not focussing on her. not focussing on us. my head, my body already over there. this war, greater than her, than me, than us. more than she could handle. this really sucks.”

J cries. he cries all night where he goes to bed on my couch. wakes up crying every morning. tries to hide it from me but I can hear him from my bedroom. don’t know what to do. he’s been so strong this past year. every Ex. he came home from he looked better and better. like whatever happened to him in Panjawai in ’06 never happened. like the big black shadow had finally lifted.

and I’m reviewing the year. chica and him. and I’m starting to wonder if maybe chica preferred him weak not strong. they met afterall, when he was so down. she helped him stand up again. bit by bit. helped him find direction when he was so lost. got him helping out with the animals down at the shop. brought his focus back. gave him a reason to get dressed, get up. and he helped her. got that place in ship shape. put his infantry training to work. organizing. fixing. cleaning. encouraged her. helped her get the big job. now she’s running the place. they made a great team.

but I’m starting to think M, that maybe chica needs to be the one in charge. saw J as another of her wounded animals that only she could save. only now he’s whole, he doesn’t interest her anymore.

“is there someone else J?” I asked him yesterday. and he said, “she says no.” but I smell another person M, I really do. and I’m wondering if chica has found another wounded one. needy. to play Jesus Christ to. someone with sad puppy dog eyes, a fractured life. someone mooching into chica and J’s world. someone for chica to adopt then throw out. once they’re fixed.

now J’s broken up and I want to help. I ask him to call the Padre but J says no. if the Padre, his OC, his CO catch wind of this split, chances are he won’t be “good to go” they’ll give him a desk job. or worse. release him. cut him loose. forever. then what would he do? who would he belong to?

and I want to phone chica. want to tell her to man up. get a dose of courage. get a dose of forgiveness. get a dose of truth. want to tell her, you don’t pull the pin ½ way into the deal. that this is all wrong. want to tell her that someone going to war needs to know he stands on solid ground. that war diminishes and greatens. magnifies good and bad. at home and overseas. that soldier, or anyone taking the risk of their life needs to feel strong. whole. supported. alive. not knee-capped. not IED’ed by his loved ones. not fractured. not split. especially just before they go.

and I want to tell her that someone going to war belongs to the world, to history, to something comfortable people at home with remote controls, soft beds, a fridge full of food, a tap with clean water, can’t understand. I want to tell her not to panic. that at least for a while soldier is AWOL in body and mind. but that he’ll come back, the greater for it, God willing. if he comes back whole in body and spirit. if he comes back alive. and that he’s going to need her. no matter what.

but I won’t M. what’s the point. chica’s got her own deal going. obviously. lacks vision to see what J needs her to be. and it occurs to me that maybe she thinks she’s saving herself pain. by being the first to pull the pin. afraid he’d leave her first. by meeting someone else on Ex. or overseas. or worse. by dying.

so M. what can I do? other than feed J, tell him he’ll be okay (though I know he won’t be for a long, long time).

keep this in your pocket. don’t tell anyone a thing. it’s early days yet. he’s in grief. he’s in shock.

but most of all M, take care of yourself. take care of your men. send me a pic. of you smiling in the desert. all sweat and salt and sand.

and don’t worry ever. I won’t pull the pin on us. this is tough M. tough. you so far away. you not belonging 100% to me.

but you’re worth it M.
all of it. the whole deal.
both the good
and the bad.


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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled pulling the pin (from May Day). It was posted here on August 13, 2009.


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