That tour was difficult for her; she wrote Teddy many letters, and received none. He called to give brief reports, but he didn't ask questions and the calls were short. The fighting was getting harder, and Teddy's fleet was losing planes. He was flying a C-2, which wasn't designed to dive-bomb, but they learned to make it dive-bomb, to support the men fighting on the ground. Over and over he would go in and drop his load in the dark mountains where the fire came at the troops below.
When he came back, his ears were damaged from the diving, and his balance was off. Sometimes he had to catch Yvette's arm suddenly, stepping over a curb or a threshold, to keep from falling over. He'd killed men from very low, and seeing the people he was killing changed him, too. He didn't talk about it as if it had changed him, but Yvette could tell it had. Korea wasn't the same as the last war. The fighting was harder than it had been in the Pacific, for him, and if he felt sure about the reasons for fighting, he wasn't backed up by so many other people feeling sure.
They didn't talk about the photographer, but the fact of him had gotten into their marriage, and she didn't know how to get it out. She thought the priest had been wrong, to say she should tell Teddy. Her mother had been right, to let her father think they had been shopping together in Kitchens and Linens and Hats. That was where her mother had been, shopping alone, so what harm was there? She mounted the clippings about Teddy in the photo albums, and she took pictures of the children to replace the photographer's prints in her mind. She didn't know where Teddy kept the envelope, or if he kept it, but she knew he had become a different man, not as hard as he was that night, but with more of the Marine Corps in his everyday voice and more suspicion in his eyes. He left the Reserves and took his job at North American again, and they settled into a life together that felt like a truce.
From Liars and Saints by Maile Meloy. Copyright Maile Meloy 2003. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher, Scribner.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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