The U.S. of After Chapter 29

Kelly

I felt like killing him.

I had to know why he wore my husband’s uniform, but the words wouldn’t form in my mouth.  I just stood there next to him as he waited in line for water and glared at him.  He finally turned around to see me and smiled a bit.  It was one of those uncomfortable smiles my brother would give me when he had stayed out all night drinking again.

“Hey, lady,” he said to me, stepping forward in line as everyone moved toward the miracle.  “I don’t know what your problem is, but..”

“That uniform,” I growled, launching in.  I could feel my teeth grate together as I talked through them.  “Where did you get it?”

“It was issued to me, ma’am, when I —“

“Don’t lie to me!” I shouted, and now people around me, people I knew, started staring.  “That is my husband’s uniform!  He was in Ranger group first airborne!  You stole it from him and I want to know what happened to him.”

He dropped the little canteen he held in his hand and stared away from me, not able to catch my gaze.  It was as if I was one of those mythological cockatrices and he was afraid I would turn him to stone.

“Look,” he said calmly, still not looking at me, some of the others now staring.  “I really don’t know your husband.  I used it to get out of McAlester.  The guy who wore it had been dead for a while and I just felt like I could use it to get out safely, that’s all.”

I couldn’t look at him any more.  I stomped away, the tears flowing out of my eyes.  I didn’t even go get any of the water, but went back to my tent to lay down and cry, to finally mourn the loss of my husband.  This world was full of madness, cruelty and horror.  I had to move on.  To keep my sanity I had to move on.  I hated that man, but couldn’t really blame him.  At least I knew what had happened to Edward.  At least now I could move on.  I would find a way to do that soon, but now I needed to cry, to release, and to think about what I would do next.

I lay there, staring up at the orange and white nylon roof of my tent moving like a flag in the soft breeze, looking through the mesh mosquito netting window at the ridge that ran along the road above.

I noticed right around fifty or so men on horseback, all of them pointing guns down into our camp.

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