Her voice transmitted across the miles like tiny Hindenburgs catching fire to my ears– there would be more casualties yet.
I am eight, sitting in church pews. I feel like an alien, words pouring over me from the man behind the podium, and I don’t understand the language. The words don’t compute. Listless and bored, I turn to my sisters and aunt. They seem just as bored as I do, perhaps they don’t understand the language either. My aunt pulls a pen from her purse and we amuse ourselves with silly doodles and words scribbled on the back of handbills tucked in hymnals. I catch the glint of childlike fire in my aunt’s eyes– mischievous, impish, impatient with how time seems dipped in molasses under the solemn eyes of a crucified symbol. Laughter can no longer be subdued and chortles overflow like youth from our throats, only to be browbeat by reproachful and pious eyes, fingers held to lips, saying hush without words.
“Oh, didn’t I tell you? Your aunt has cancer.”
“No, you didn’t.”
“Yeah. It’s in her throat. But they don’t know if it is just there or it spread there from somewhere else in her body. It doesn’t sound good though, because her platelets are too low to operate.”
Words hit my ears like casual assailants– interjections, afterthoughts– in a larger conversation.
Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!
There will be more casualties yet.