Gabrielle would have dropped her wet clothes on the bathroom floor before entering the shower but she couldn’t; she wasn’t wearing any. It had been less than two hours since she had wrestled with her husband, first in the shower and then in their bed, and when she pressed a button her watch spoke to her, telling her that a new day had begun. She inhaled, turned the shower on and luxuriated under the stream. The stream of thoughts that came to her were not as soothing as the water.
She’d had her last face to face conversation with Bill in July of 1990. “Oh, Bill” she said as the water cascaded down on her, “you promised you’d come back. You promised.”
She didn’t feel ill will toward her brother, only loss. With an eight year age difference between them she now realized that her prepubescent idolization of Bill had been a little odd, incestuous even, but she had always loved seeing him in uniform. Now she hated the sight of desert camo.
Bill had been granted leave the beginning of July but on August seventh he was in Saudi Arabia. It was odd that Mom had been the one standing tall and proud as they watched him go down the gangway to the waiting airliner while Dad held back the tears. Dad never talked about his service in Viet Nam but it seemed obvious now that he was conflicted about Bill’s deployment.
Dad had always made a joke about his own birthday, August 9, 1945. Forty five years and a day after the US bombed Hiroshima Bill Brewer landed in a foreign land just in case the US decided to come to Kuwait’s defense against Saddam Hussein and Iraq’s military maneuverings. He hadn’t had many opportunities to phone home but at first he’d been very dutiful in sending weekly letters. Gabrielle had gladly responded with long letters back to him.