Acts of War

 

In the morning, in Prozac dreams, I have known myself to go to war. The fields of battle used to move and speak to me like waves and wind speak to the hull of a warship. I knew combatants as my friends from when I was younger than I am now. At the end of our collegiate time together, few of us ever said goodbye. I wasn’t planning on returning the signal, so I don’t know why it hurt. I guess I am still a child, and a bitter one at that.

I am spending this morning at a place in the Adirondack mountains called Great Camp Sagamore. It was where I started my college days at an orientation program four years ago. The wooden cabins, dining hall, and lodges on the shores of Raquette Lake, are restored from their construction in the late 19th century. It was the summer home of Alfred Vanderbilt, before he drowned during the First World War on the Lusitania. His surviving family came back from time to time, but the place began to drift back into the woods it had been so painstakingly carved from. The Great Camp was saved by the State of New York about twenty years ago, and now is kept protected and restored, so that anyone might stay here in the twilight home of a gilded age.

The memory of my time here needs no restoration. The bark grafted to the walls of the cabins like shingles taken from the forest is free of rot and damp. It is an immaculately maintained memory. But in the taste of things late at night when I am alone- is the taste of salt from my old forms of warfare. I have held many grudges in the time between when I first came here and now. It is seeping like toxic gas through bulkheads and vents. At night, the rivets of my defenses begin to loosen, and the outer hull ripples with the passing of undetected submarines.

Wisdom says I will never get my revenge, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting it. I’m listening, my ear to the bottom, for scratches and scrapes against the bottom paint. I’m waiting for the boiler room to flood, ear against the floor where below depth charges go off like thunder into the deep. Count the seconds and count the miles. The delay is less and less. I’m getting closer. I like to imagine the reverberation of my calamity can be heard for miles around, though I am sure to those who set me here, I am nothing more than the blip on the radar as a torpedo races with excitement toward its terminus, and the sender sinks silently away, and waits for what has already been set into motion.

We wore sneakers in the long dew-covered grass at the beginning when I first came here. Remembering my former self from those early college days is like stepping into the dawn on the porch of the cabin. It was Alfred’s favorite place. We both have faithful memories of old mornings here at Sagamore. Step outside, and I am in it- filled with a strange sort of hope. These recollections have been filling my uncertainties like caulk in a bilge for some time now.

 

At the college campus, my friends and I used to lay on the well worn and stained pool table in the basement of the dorm hall. It was our favorite place at the campus in that time. We spent countless afternoons talking of nothing, The exact nature of that nothing has become very apparent as of late, and I’ve gone over it again and again like unfinished coded messages warning of an attack across the front. In the years that followed, happy college days became a curdled memory and coagulated with a great deal of mutual rage. We’d either never been good for each other, or things had become that way. I’m not sure who’s fault it was. I just wish we’d known it sooner, and had heeded the warnings across the wire. Submarine ahead. All is quiet, until it suddenly isn’t, and then, we are no longer talking, and the great liner of our young dreams rolls hard to starboard. I wake from the ice dream covered in salt water sticking to my skin.

I pull the heavy woolen blanket from my wet skin, and step outside of the cabin wearing almost nothing at all. All is calm again.

The early morning sky is turning a more pleasant shade of blue over the great camp, as the true morning comes on. The once grey sky is free of planes, the lakes free of ocean liners and submarines. Only the black flies encircle my head like dive-bombers, a little reminder of the cost of the war I’ve been waging. As they pass, my eyes dart like those of the lookout on the mast looks for the far off conning tower sliding beneath the waves. I know there’s nothing there, but I can still feel the strain on the economy of my being.

 

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