thewordofweb: (glow; by zed_pm)
My day hasn't exactly been anything incredible thus far. I'm not sure exactly what I expected of twenty-four. There's no great milestones that come with this day and I'm not getting large checks from my family nor am I getting a large celebration of any kind, which is for the best because large crowds still make me entirely too uncomfortable. My nose is in a book as I push my way into the back of the Homestead and head into our room, dropping the clothes I've laundered down and still reading while putting graded papers on the desk and turning to hang up my light coat.

It's just another day. That suddenly I'm older does mean something. It means I'm grateful to be alive in order for it to happen, but I never did expect fireworks. Eventually, I mark the place in my book and duck into Joe's room to check my hair in his small mirror, fixing it with a wrinkle of my nose at my distaste over the way it's been curling in the heat.
thewordofweb: (not so pleased)
The obituary had been burning a hole in my pocket for weeks now. The couple of them. I'd been keeping them from Joe, tucked away in secret places he would never look, thinking I would tell him everything over dinner one night, some throwaway mention as I brushed my thumb against his palm, a soft ' about our future, I may not be in it?' That's not going to happen. First came that fucking uniform and then Joe got his brain near-stolen.

So I've left it. I left it amidst the piles of his homework and I went to find Blair to try and find some absolution over my being such a coward. Now, I have to go back. It's been hours and if he hasn't found it, then I'm in trouble from being gone during dinner. If he has found it, well, I don't know what to expect, but I don't think it's going to be good.

I lean my head on the door for what feels like eternity. It's only five minutes. I count quietly, one-one-thousand...

This is going to take as much bravery as any jump and I push the door open and close it behind myself, just standing there and waiting to see what's going to happen.
thewordofweb: (share of burdens: by ?)
Grant's been right. The one thing that I've been putting off doing right now is the one thing I need to do, but the guilt has been swarming me something terrible. How can I help it? Joe spent the worst day of his life here (maybe second worst) and I'd been a shadow after that, never leaving his side if I could help it. And then because of one small trip to the bookcase, I was gone for nearly two days straight.

I had gone to the kitchen to see the damage and now that the sun is low enough in the sky, I'm back in front of my door, ready to head into the bedroom (mine, his...ours, I suppose). I said I loved him and then days later, I just vanished. I still don't know if I can even bear to tell him what's really going on.

All I do manage is opening the door and taking two steps in, hanging my head and swallowing down the lump in my throat, trying to keep myself on the precarious precipice so I don't fall off and lose my composure. "I'm back," I say, hushed, avoiding eye contact. I don't think I can look at him and not lose it. I really don't.
thewordofweb: (who wears short shorts: by outoficons)
While I still know I'm never bound to be a great baseball star, I still enjoy the hobby of playing on the Island, even if Buck insists on us having practice twice a week. In this climate, that's nothing short of brutal (and I don't even know how Joe can manage wearing the amount of clothes he does). By the time we're through, my hair has gone all-curls thanks to the humidity and I'm using my white t-shirt to dry off my forehead. My chest is still mostly bare and I don't mind flashing it around.

Short navy blue shorts help keep the heat at bay and I lean over to grasp at a bottle of water, watching Joe for a moment before wiping at my mouth with the back of a hand, trying to phrase what I want to ask him in my head.

It's going to be awkward, no matter what.

"Joe?" I call over, getting his attention. "Do you have plans for right now?"
thewordofweb: (seen better times: by ?)
Now that the cold has begun its journey to the tail end, all I've been doing is making sure it's on its way out. I'm still groggy and sapped of energy, but my sinuses have cleared and I can think coherently again. I've been at the hot springs to simply get my circulation going and by the time I return back to the room, I'm honestly ready to simply collapse in bed and fall asleep.

Possibly not right on top of Joe, who seems to have sprawled out with his book for this class (one that I've already told him that I'm going to be helpless in when it comes to helping, being that days ago, I couldn't even properly construct a sentence.

I grunt and nudge him, towelling at my wet hair as I give him a poke with my knee to his hip. "Move over," I demand. "If you want to stay."
thewordofweb: (wordplay: by shatteredicons_)
After teaching, I tend to have the same routine that most days carry. I'll stop by for food, I'll shelve all my books in my bag, and I'll look for new ones. Then I head home for a night of writing my manuscript (lately in bed, considering the number Joe and I did to our desk). I'll pop out and visit with the others for a while, but for the most part, it's a routine made in isolation with Joe's accompaniment when he joins me.

Today, though, I'm staring at a foreign object in my room and I don't know how to explain it. I sink down into the chair and pick up loose papers from the desk that don't belong to me. Then again, the desk doesn't belong to me. It's new and strange and looks expensive and antique.

And I think I'm looking at homework in Joe's handwriting, which would explain all the books on the desk that I had nothing to do with. Still, it's all too confusing and for a moment, my mind is starting to believe that Joe's trying to get me to switch rooms with him or something. I shake my head and keep reading at the work, leaning forward to grab a pencil and to start making corrections.
thewordofweb: (fuck you too: by ?)
The night before was the first time in the span of our short-lived whatever it is that Joe didn't come to join me in bed. At first, I'd been worried because he wasn't in his own room either, but I chalked it up to him staying out. Then he didn't come back at all and by the time the early hours of the morning rolled upon us, I was standing above him and smelling the reek of alcohol and seeing him in his own bed.

There was this...well, smell to him. This look. And I didn't even have to ask, because I knew. I couldn't even bring myself to be be disappointed because I had said he could have this. I suppose I just never counted on the way it would hurt so absolutely much.

The day after (today), I'd spent talking to him as best as I could. Comments over breakfast, half-smiles before lunch, a check-in before I went swimming. Still, the gnaw in my chest refused to go away and I sit on my bed now as night approaches and stare at the wall and wonder at how I could be surprised it all lapsed so quickly. It's like a sweater. You just tug at the yarn, thinking it would be harmless and eventually, it all unravels. We are just beginning to unravel. With a heavy sigh, I shift the cover and climb in, facing the wall and trying to ignore the heaviness that pushes at me and covers me like a blanket of its own.

This is just a preview, I think, of how it will work. And I'd best be getting used to it.
thewordofweb: (GIRL: lounge)
There's something strange about this out-of-body experience that only occurs to me now that I'm well-fed (and combatting a dizzying head rush from the heat). It makes me wonder if maybe I'm being put through this in order to understand the female perspective, because God knows I never did that when I was a teen like all the other boys did. Rites of passage, ones I missed out on.

For the walk to the Compound, I slid into a pair of baggy sweats and it's too much, but Joe's set to remedy that and I'm simply sitting on top of the washer with crossed-legs and waiting. My hair's a mess in a ponytail and I'm smoking a cigarette, thumb pressed to my chin and fingers in the air as it smokes carelessly towards the ceiling.

I've yet to ask aloud why Joe is doing this, mostly because I figure it's misplaced guilt after what happened last night, but at this point in the middle of the afternoon, I don't exactly care. "Make sure you find me something to swim in," I point out, "Abercrombie and Fitch, if you can."


Jan. 8th, 2009 09:49 pm
thewordofweb: (angst: by papersea)
Dear Mother and Father,

The terrain around me could not be any more beautiful and could not capture our minds and hearts with any greater skill. Austria is endless in its mountains and green valleys, serving to offer respite while the war draws to a staccato close. It is endless and quick at once and while I hold no joy for my remaining here, I wouldn’t trade the discovery of scenery and tangible treasures for the world. As for the Army…

My letters have a habit of trailing off suddenly as if in a fit to show just how much the Army is fond of making us hurry up and wait. So often, I’ve had to cease my writings in order to attend guard duty or because Speirs has ordered Liebgott on a mission that becomes his own personal vendetta.

Hurry up and wait.

I regard the Army’s rooted ways with disgust, by now. I’ve done my hurrying and I’m tired of waiting, but barring those four points I need, I’m not going home. I drag myself out of my reverie, out of staring at passes and smoking decent fucking cigarettes for a change and glance over to Janovec, who put me in this line of thought in the first place. “Eighty-one points,” I inform him. “I have eighty-one points.” Maybe, just maybe, had I been in Bastogne, that batterer of spirits, that endless hell on Earth, I might have found my ticket home. Maybe if I had been in Bastogne, I never would have made it to the other side.

It’s all useless now.

The war has rendered so many pieces of us in disarray. Where has the dignity of soldiers gone? Who are these barbarians that stand where men once were, coaxed by spirits and boredom to march to a new chaotic drumbeat that leads to nothing but death and damnation? Alcohol has become a killer as much as boredom has and all I have to do is stand guard while I wait for the decree to be passed down from on high. Redeployment to the Pacific, hip-hip-hurrah. More guts and glory to be passed around, more medals to be pinned, and more telegrams to be sent home. DEAR SIR OR MADAM, it will read, YOUR SON HAS BEEN SERIOUSLY WOUNDED IN COMBAT DEFENDING HIS COUNTRY. We’ve fought the war and we’ve given enough of our lives to the archaic stubbornness of countries clinging to their bitterness over an armistice signed so many years ago and you had to wonder, you did, in a room of that many mirrors, did any of those men look at themselves and realize just what the fuck they were doing?

I’m pulled from whatever thoughts as I help the Kraut soldier with his wounded leg, the one I see a bit of myself in. Munich, he’s going to, and I don’t care about the protests of the family in their car, whining about their earthly possessions being dismissed to make room for a person. Innocents, someone in F Company had once called them, and I had agreed then.

Now, after Landsberg, I would laugh in their face at such a proclamation.

No one’s innocent. We’re all guilty of something and now that the war’s over, we all have to live with it. No one gets off scot-free. So I shove the bags to the mud and play up whatever disrespect because I’d rather get out my frustrations like this instead of with a bullet to the back and discordant shouts on Austrian countrysides. Why he had asked me…

I don’t know.

I don’t know anything, anymore, and when the sound of the car crash comes from far too close, I stop. My heart stops, my thoughts stop and I remember that I’m still just a boy trying to pretend to be a man while my life is in intermission and the second act is waiting to begin.

The horn is sounding in the distance and I run to it, run in the direction of Janovec and try to cling to the last vestiges of hope, even if hope left me back in Aldbourne before the very first jump.

It’d been easy to lose. You just count.

One one-thousand…

Two one-thousand…

Three one-thousand…


And there it goes.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Janovec

And so it trails off. I doubt I would be writing this letter in my head if it weren’t for the fact that the moment I arrived to help him, I was only able to help the medics load his body into the ambulance (dead, dead from the impact, dead) and as I hopped my way down, I’d landed in sand. I’d been in the midst of counting, that horrible habit engrained in me by the Army and landed in paradise, the expanse of sand and sea stretching before my eyes.

There’s little explanation and I’ve begun to wonder if this is a grand and welcome psychotic break to process the horrors we’ve all seen. Call it a bastion of sanity. Call it paradise lost. Whatever you call it, I can’t exactly enjoy it when only moments ago, I was feeling for a pulse and that false hope was echoing back at my while my own heartbeat rabbited and fooled me into hoping that maybe, just maybe, Janovec was still alive.

The war in Europe was over and I still thought I could hope. I suppose I only have myself to blame for thinking things would be different, but they weren’t. They weren’t and they aren’t and if this is some sort of mental trick to convince me that I’ve been pushed too far, then it’s doing a good job, alright.

“What the fuck am I doing here?” I mutter to myself and scrub a hand over my stubbled jaw, shaking my head and hitching up my rifle and helmet to figure out just how very real this hallucinatory break is.

There were boats floating on a serene crystal clear water in the distance and the calm of the moment did absolutely nothing to steady my fear.


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