The Seal Wife
That day I went into the Slav’s hut for the first time. My own home was rubble now and strewn with a carnage of twisted metal and wire. I wondered again at this inlet where men like me, broken by killing, find a place to hide and some peace.
Alcohol worked in a little tub beside the fireplace, burping up a bubble a second. Clothes, bones, dirty plates and bottles were scattered all over the floor. His unmade bed, with colourless blankets and a yellow pillow that bore the imprint of his head, bristled with the black hairs of his dog. The things people need to live. Newspapers lined the walls, pasted on with glue that smelt like flour. I can remember words, though I could never read well, I could make out the sounds and what they looked like. I sat there for hours. The first page took me a long time to decipher and then it came back to me and I was able to read the man’s walls.
The London Blitz, Dresden, Auschwitz, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Singapore, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq ... the poor man lived in a printed mire of war. I knew then why the woman painted a shell of colours around him.