In the Realms of Light and Darkness: eight letters from war: 8. Cloris


Hey, Paulie!
There are lots of stars out tonight. They make me feel silly. Like when you and me’d get in the car, go way out into the country, and just lie in some field, listen to the crickets, drink and smoke pot and tickle, and all the rest. Tonight, before we got ready for bed, Mita and me sat on the rocks outside and looked at them. The stars, I mean. They’re really cool, out here. I mean, like there’s no lights, well, except for the ones around the base. But you can see, it’s like a hundred miles across the water, across all the boats — ships, I mean. I still call them boats sometimes, the officers get real p.o.ed. Mita thinks it’s funny. Sure not like the city. Or the county. I never seen this much darkness back home.

I wonder if it’ll be like this, there. They keep showing us pictures, but I can’t tell nothing from pictures. I guess I’m excited about going. I mean, who ever thought I’d get to go somewhere on a different continent, on a plane and all. Some of the girls are scared. I mean, all the stuff you see on TV, that’s in the papers. Mita’s brother tried to talk her out of joining up. He comes here every week, and he always tries to get her to sneak away. What you wanna do this for? he says, you’re gonna get your sorry ass killed. Mita just laughs. Maybe, she says. But I know she doesn’t think she will, get killed I mean.
Me neither. I mean, I know I ain’t the sharpest crayon in the pack, but I been paying attention, real careful attention, to everything. For the life of me I can’t remember that boats are ships. But I do remember the stuff that counts, and I know how to take care of myself. Hell, Paulie, I always took care of myself. War’s just a different way of having to do it. You know. I been banged around. You get good at banging back.

But right now I’m lying here, waiting for them to turn off the lights. Lot of the girls are doing their last minute packing. Mine’s done. The plane leaves at six o’clock — whoops, I mean zero six hundred — and I don’t want to have to get up a minute earlier than I got to. I’m used to it, though, finally, getting up real early, I mean. Last week when I wrote? I was only complaining cause I was sore, from all the marching and stuff. I feel good now, now that we’re about to do it. Finally.
Hey! Before I forget. Thanks for the present. I love it! I am 21 as of yesterday. Mita and a couple of the girls bought me my first legal beer, at the commissary. Mita said she would have took me out for a big celebration but, of course, we can’t leave base. But first leave we get? we’re gonna go paint the town. If there is one. In the pictures, it don’t look like there’s much there at all. Kinda dull. Have to get our excitement from the shooting, is what Mita says.

Hey, Paulie! Just got time for one more thing before lights out. You know I love you. And I know you’re scared for me. Thanks for working at not showing it. Jeez, when you was in, I was only 12, 13 years old! I’m glad there wasn’t no war then. I’d of been scared for you, if I’d known you then, I mean. And thanks for understanding how I had to do this. I loved my Daddy, and he’d be scared for me, and he’d be proud of me, too. And when I come back — and I am coming back, you can bet your ass and mine on that — when I come back we are gonna get married and have us a dozen kids, live happily ever after, cause there ain’t never, never gonna be another war.

Gotta go now. I’ll write you from the plane.

Love, Cloris





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