In the Realms of Light and Darkness: eight letters from war: 6. Angela

6. ANGELA

Antonio —

You want to know if I’m happy. I know you wish I could say I’m not, but there’s a certain, I don’t know, placer* in it, and I know some doctor would say I’m psychotic. But I’m not. At home, I would not do anything like this. And I do not kill. I have never killed. I have, siempre, tried to live my life according to the teachings and the precepts of “Right” and “Good” and “Godliness.” I still do. It’s just that, here, those precepts are in a whole different context.

Sure, they are human. But there are two kinds of humans: There’s the “you and me” kind, and there’s the other. The “them” kind. Maybe they are as good, as loved by God, as everyone else, but I do not think so. And every time one of them tells me something we need to know, something that will save one, ten, a hundred you-and-me kind’s lives, I feel good. I feel I am a servant of man and God.

It’s about that, the greater good. I get up in the morning — and I sleep dreamlessly, like un ángel — I cleanse myself and I pray, I put on my uniform, have my breakfast and I go there. I actually look forward to going in. I smile at everyone I pass, they smile back. And then I am inside, where there is little space and less light, and there is just me and one of them. They often stare at me from the chair, especially the first time they see me. I am una mujer. They think: A woman cannot possibly be cruel. There is defiance in their eyes but there is pleading in them too, there is fear. I always say “good morning,” and smile, and introduce myself. Of course they do not trust me. They ask for water, and I give it to them and offer them more. They thank me. And I nod.

And then I ask a question — something simple, something they must know the answer to. If they answer truthfully, I thank them, and I ask another. But if — when — they do not answer, or they lie — yes, I slap them. I ask again, they do not answer again, I slap them again. Each time a little harder, across the face, the chest, with my hand or the leather strap or my stick.

You ask me, Antonio, how I can do that. You are a man of God, and you believe Life is sacred. You will be surprised then, when I tell you: So do I. I am of God too. As was my brother, whose life meant nothing to them. It is of him I think each time I ask a prisoner any question, and it is of him I think each time I strike one. The cries I hear, the tears that fall, the blood that bursts from the nose, seeps from the chest, each mark, each scar, is a disfigurement that matches the disfigured soul beneath the skin. They plead for mercy, just as Francisco did. I heard him. Some, after hours, plead for death, just as he must have. I did not hear that. I was unconscious. But I will not let them die. That would be merciful, and I have no interest in mercy, only in saving the lives of you and my family and my people who suffer the dangers of this war. These men I interrogate, they too are soldados, they understand the dangers and the risks, they — as I am — must be willing to give their lives. But one life is small, muchas vidas son grandes.

Their one life is little to give, to require of them, and so I ask them for more. I ask them to save our lives and if they will not, I require them to endure. Pain, fear, loss of hope. Antonio, their silence allows our friends, our loved ones, to suffer and die. That cannot be allowed. ¡Yo no debo permitirlo!

Yes, I grow tired. But, as today, when I secure secrets they have sworn to withhold, when I leave them, certain I have helped us and helped deny them, I am exhilarated. Last week I saved a regiment with such a secret. The man who revealed it was wrought with shame. He choked with his weeping. I dried his tears, salved his wounds, gave him water, unloosed his bonds. It is the greater good you have served, I told him. If our positions were reversed, you would seek to have me do the same. He wept, but he nodded.

We are at war, my friend. And we must survive. No matter the cost. My brother’s death was a little price. Their pain, their deaths, is a smaller one. But I will make them pay it. And I will leave them, their debt partly filled, and return to my barracks, where I will cleanse myself, and say my prayers, and sup, and sleep the sleep of angels.

You ask, Angela: Are you happy? And, Antonio, I can answer: Yes, I am.

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One Response to “In the Realms of Light and Darkness: eight letters from war: 6. Angela”

  1. ウブロスーパーコピー それを愛するか、それを憎み、エマニュエル・ブーシェの合併症の1つのとてもエキゾチックで提供するすべての会話のポイント時計狂愛を議論する。また、エマニュ Says:

    [url=http://www.newkakaku.com/gab7.htm]ウブロスーパーコピー それを愛するか、それを憎み、エマニュエル・ブーシェの合併症の1つのとてもエキゾチックで提供するすべての会話のポイント時計狂愛を議論する。また、エマニュエル・ブーシェの合併症についてのノートへの非常に重要なことであるのを見て、それの中でまだ絵の全てではないが同じ人にそれを見ることにした。でも理解する方法の説明の時間を言うビットなしで挑戦することができます。[/url]

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