Two of these dramatic monologues have been published in the anthology:
Millennium Monologs, 95 contemporary characterizations for young actors, Edited by Gerald Lee Ratlif, 262 pages, $15.95, Colorado Springs: Meriwether Publishing Limited, 2002.
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Last night I woke, sweat soaking my pillow.
It's been so many years. I thought that it was behind me. The faces of men I barely knew, Katrinski, Pajoli, Myerschmidt, their hard smiles playing under my eyelids like the flash of artillery fire. Years ago my wife thought that I was suffering from battle memories, from what they call now "post traumatic stress disorder," when I was a graduate student. Which in a way is true. During the war I bought myself precious time. With my desk job in the army, with the skills I learned in college, I managed to delete my name from the roster of soldiers to be shipped off to battle in Okinawa. None ever returned.
I was the first in my family to go to a university, and I knew then that I would move on, get my Phd., make my mark.
So I never regretted what I did. I accepted the burden, that is given to all men of greatness when they must go against the grain. And usually I forget the men I saw shipping out on LST's, knapsacks bulging, smiling from behind their dread. They wished me luck, told me they'd be back soon, said that in no time we would be sitting down, laughing over a beer.
Today I am famous; I discovered a blood cell that's been named after me. It has brought me prize after prize, saved countless people.
It's just at these conferences when I stay at modern hotels, which have always reminded me of army housing, in their sameness no matter where I am, Barcelona, Tokyo, Miami, Rio, that I can see them more clearly. Barely literate men, men who would have gone back to being plumbers and carpenters and taxi drivers.
I knew that I was not one of them.
Of course, we went to the bars, because we were there, thrown in together. Some almost became friends, a few I shared my vision with: of returning to school, looking deep into ourselves and making an important discovery.
Which is all the justification I need for what I did, because my work, has saved a hundred Katrinskis and Pajolis.
It's only occasionally when I'm looking out at a foreign ocean with the sound of waves breaking, like the post where I was stationed, that I think about it.
Most of the time I don't remember.
My husband is gone to a conference. And I worry about him when he's away. I miss him, sure. But he doesn't realize how often he still dreams his regular nightmare. About three I often wake to see him clawing at the sky.
He thinks I don't know. Which in a way is true. I don't understand what war means to men, what promises they've made to each other, which they're allowed to break. He will never tell me.
But over the nights, when he talked in his sleep during the early years we were married, I put together a quilt of what had happened. At first it was a crazy pattern. But then I stood back, and I saw it, saw what he had done. I felt shivers falling through me, and I held him tight until he stopped kicking, and we fell back to dozing.
The next morning I felt a kind of tired I'd never known before, as though my feet were made of stone. And he barked at me the way he usually does after one of his dreams. I said I hadn't slept well, the full moon kept coming through the window, and he made one of those swallowed laughs men make when they think women are crazy. In the afternoon when a storm approached, I trembled, like I'd seem him do, at the thunder far off in the distance. Then I took a nap, but it was as though bullets and bombs were raining down on me.
However, that was years ago.
Sometime today he'll call me from wherever he is in the world, and he'll think he's just checking on the small farm we keep, the sheep, the goats, the chores he left for me to do, and I'll tell him everything is fine, except that the hoof we've been having trouble with still isn't right. And he'll take a deep breath and say it's good to hear your voice, and I'll agree, and then he'll blow me a kiss through the phone, and we'll hang up.
But I can tell by the pitch in his throat, how bad it was last night. And just talking to me usually does the trick, even when he's in a bad mood, dishing out his gloom, cutting me to pieces, because he knows I love him. And whatever happened, he did for us, even though I didn't know him when he was a soldier. He did what he believed in.
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