But why? I said. Why did they?
Ours is not to reason why, said Moira. They had to do it that way, the Compucounts and the jobs both at once. Can you picture the airports, otherwise? They don’t want us going anywhere, you can bet on that.
I went to pick my daughter up from school. I drove with exaggerated care. By the time Luke got home I was sitting at the kitchen table. She was drawing with felt pens at her own little table in the corner, where her paintings were
taped up next to the refrigerator.
Luke knelt beside me and put his arms around me. I heard, he said, on the car radio, driving home. Don’t worry, I’m sure it’s temporary.
Did they say why? I said.
He didn’t answer that. We’ll get through it, he said, hugging me.
You don’t know what it’s like, I said. I feel as if somebody cut off my feet. I wasn’t crying. Also, I couldn’t put my arms around him.
It’s only a job, he said, trying to soothe me.
I guess you get all my money, I said. And I’m not even dead. I was trying for a joke, but it came out sounding macabre.
Hush, he said. He was still kneeling on the floor. You know I’ll always take care of you.
I thought, already he’s starting to patronize me. Then I thought, already you’re starting to get paranoid.
I know, I said. I love you.
Later, after she was in bed and we were having supper, and I wasn’t feeling so shaky, I told him about the afternoon. I described the director coming in, blurting out his announcement. It would have been funny if it wasn’t so awful, I said. I thought he was drunk. Maybe he was. The army was there, and everything.
Then I remembered something I’d seen and hadn’t noticed, at the time. It wasn’t the army. It was some other army.
There were marches, of course, a lot of women and some men. But they were smaller than you might have thought. I guess people were scared. And when it was known that the police, or the army, or whoever they were, would open fire almost as soon as any of the marches even started, the marches stopped. A few things were blown up, post offices, subway stations. But you couldn’t even be sure who was doing it. It could have been the army, to justify the computer searches and the other ones, the door-to-doors.
I didn’t go on any of the marches. Luke said it would be futile and I had to think about them, my family, him and her. I did think about my family. I started doing more housework, more baking. I tried not to cry at mealtimes. By this time I’d started to cry, without warning, and to sit beside the bedroom
window, staring out. I didn’t know many of the neighbours, and when we met, outside on the street, we were careful to exchange nothing more than the ordinary greetings. Nobody wanted to be reported, for disloyalty.
Remembering this, I remember also my mother, years before. I must have been fourteen, fifteen, that age when daughters are most embarrassed by their mothers. I remember her coming back to one of our many apartments, with a group of other women, part of her ever-changing circle of friends. They’d been in a march that day; it was during the time of the porn riots, or was it the abortion riots, they were close together. There were a lot of bombings then: clinics, video stores; it was hard to keep track.
My mother had a bruise on her face, and a little blood. You can’t stick your hand through a glass window without getting cut, is what she said about it. Fucking pigs.
Fucking bleeders, one of her friends said. They called the other side bleeders, after the signs they carried: Let them bleed. So it must have been the abortion riots.
I went into my bedroom, to be out of their way. They were talking too much, and too loudly. They ignored me, and I resented them. My mother and her rowdy friends. I didn’t see why she had to dress that way, in overalls, as if she were young; or to swear so much.
You’re such a prude, she would say to me, in a tone of voice that was on the whole pleased. She liked being more outrageous than I was, more rebellious. Adolescents are always such prudes.
Part of my disapproval was that, I’m sure: perfunctory, routine. But also I wanted from her a life more ceremonious, less subject to makeshift and decampment.
You were a wanted child, God knows, she would say at other moments, lingering over the photo albums in which she had me framed; these albums were thick with babies, but my replicas thinned out as I grew older, as if the population of my duplicates had been hit by some plague. She would say this a little regretfully, as though I hadn’t turned out entirely as she’d expected. No mother is ever, completely, a child’s idea of what a mother should be, and I suppose it works the other way around as well. But despite everything, we didn’t do badly by one another, we did as well as most.
I wish she were here, so I could tell her I finally know this.
Someone has come out of the house. I hear the distant closing of a door, around at the side, footsteps on the walk. It’s Nick, I can see him now; he’s stepped off the path, onto the lawn, to breathe in the humid air which stinks of flowers, of pulpy growth, of pollen thrown into the wind in handfuls, like oyster spawn into the sea. All this prodigal breeding. He stretches in the sun, I feel the ripple of muscles go along him, like a cat’s back arching. He’s in his shirt sleeves, bare arms sticking shamelessly out from the rolled cloth. Where does the tan end? I haven’t spoken to him since that one night, dreamscape in the moon-filled sitting room. He’s only my flag, my semaphore. Body language.
Right now his cap’s on sideways. Therefore I am sent for.
What does he get for it, his role as page boy? How does he feel, pimping in this ambiguous way for the Commander? Does it fill him with disgust, or make him want more of me, want me more? Because he has no idea what really goes on in there, among the books. Acts of perversion, for all he knows. The Commander and me, covering each other with ink, licking it off, or making love on stacks of forbidden newsprint. Well, he wouldn’t be far off at that.
But depend on it, there’s something in it for him. Everyone’s on the take, one way or another. Extra cigarettes? Extra freedoms, not allowed to the general run? Anyway, what can he prove? It’s his word against the Commander’s, unless he wants to head a posse. Kick in the door, and what did I tell you? Caught in the act, sinfully Scrabbling. Quick, eat those words.
Maybe he just likes the satisfaction of knowing something secret. Of having something on me, as they used to say. It’s the kind of power you can use only once.
I would like to think better of him.
That night, after I’d lost my job, Luke wanted me to make love. Why didn’t I want to? Desperation alone should have driven me. But I still felt numbed. I could hardly even feel his hands on me.
What’s the matter? he said.
I don’t know, I said.
We still have… he said. But he didn’t go on to say what we still had. It occurred to me that he shouldn’t be saying we, since nothing that I knew of had been taken away from him.
We still have each other, I said. It was true. Then why did I sound, even to myself, so indifferent?
He kissed me then, as if now I’d said that, things could get back to normal. But something had shifted, some balance. I felt shrunken, so that when he put his arms around me, gathering me up, I was small as a doll. I felt love going forward without me.
He doesn’t mind this, I thought. He doesn’t mind it at all. Maybe he even likes it. We are not each other’s, any more. Instead, I am his.
Unworthy, unjust, untrue. But that is what happened.
So Luke: what I want to ask you now, what I need to know is, Was I right? Because we never talked about it. By the time I could have done that, I was afraid to. I couldn’t afford to lose you.
Why Work with Us
Top Quality and Well-Researched Papers
Our writers are encouraged to read and research widely to have rich information before writing clients’ papers. Therefore, be it high school or PhD level paper, it will always be a well-researched work handled by experts.
Professional and Experienced Academic Writers
For one to become part of our team, thorough interview and vetting is undertaken to make sure their academic level and experience are beyond reproach, hence enabling us give our clients top quality work.
Free Unlimited Revisions
Once you have received your paper and feel that some issues have been missed, just request for revision and it will be done. In addition, you can present your work to the tutor and he/she asks for improvement/changes, we are always ready to assist.
Prompt Delivery and 100% Money-Back-Guarantee
All our papers are sent to the clients before the deadline to allow them time to review the work before presenting to the tutor. If for some reason we feel our writers cannot meet the deadline, we will contact you to ask for more time. If this is not possible, then the paid amount will be refunded.
Original & Confidential
Our writers have been trained to ensure work produced is free of plagiarism. Software to check originality are also applied. Our clients’ information is highly guarded from third parties to ensure confidentiality is maintained.
24/7 Customer Support
Our support team is available 24 hours, 7 days a week. You can reach the team via live chat, email or phone call. You can always get in touch whenever you need any assistance.
Try it now!
How it works?
Follow these simple steps to get your paper done
Place your order
Fill in the order form and provide all details of your assignment.
Proceed with the payment
Choose the payment system that suits you most.
Receive the final file
Once your paper is ready, we will email it to you.
You have had a hectic day, and still need to complete your assignment, yet it is late at night. No need to panic. Place your order with us, retire to bed, and once you wake up, the paper will be ready.
It does not matter the urgency of your paper, or the academic level, our team is ready to help you 24/7. Just contact us and all your academic needs will be sorted.
Admission Essays & Business Writing Help
A student is often required to write an admission letter requesting to be admitted in a certain institution. For you to be gain that admission in your dream institution, you must write a convincing letter. You can depend on our team for the best admission letters.
Academic writing is not just about getting information and throwing it all over. Our team will ensure you have a polished paper that is coherent and has a good flow of information. We also ensure the paper follows the correct formatting styles like APA, Harvard, MLA, Chicago/Turabian.
If our writers write a paper but you are not satisfied in one way or another, you can always ask for revision. This is totally free. Our writers and editors will revise your paper untill you are be totally satisfied. We as well offer revision for papers not done by our writers at a small fee.