by Britta Reque-Dragicevic
This first appeared in Britta’s blog, “Life After War” on November 25, 2013, and is republished with the author’s permission.
It’s where you are. It’s where I stand.
Iraq. Afghanistan. There. Here. Again. Now.
You inhale, your chest tightens, the pain, a dense, black vapor, unseen.
I sense it.
It senses me.
You smile. Nervous. Uncertain. Your eyes trained to harbor sights too deeply human to see. No one knows. No one would believe. Who is this woman? God, what if she can’t see?
Your hands, sensitive, perceptive, agile, text nimbly.
Worn spots, where nerve called to muscle, muscle to bone, bone to movement, the slightest movement. Life. Done.
You text, pouring letters into words, words into phrases, phrases into sentences. Life. Done?
Invisible. Broken. Lost. Afraid. It’s dark.
I miss it, you say.
No…no, you miss you, I think to myself.
You are not alone, I type. This pain is not permanent.
I’m scared it is, you reply. You glance around, tip back another shot, hit Like to a friend’s Share. Wonder if you should just forget about it. Nothing else has ever worked. Why even try. Fuck it.
But hope doesn’t die that easily. What if??
My words, soft, gentle, tenacious, embrace you. Sink into the depths. Hit bottom. You blink back tears.
The spaces in between, opened, unexpectedly. You inhale, your chest expands, air pours in.
Take my hand, I type — across the irrelevant distance, where my thoughts touch yours, your spirit pleads with mine. I feel the worn nerves, the tremor of suppressed fear, the weariness of fighting battles when there is no longer a war to be fought — as your hand, clasps mine.
Please don’t let me go, you whisper. I look at the spaces where I stand, here, in between. You. Me. Life. Not done.
I won’t, I whisper.