The bed sheets saw Cambry grow up like voyeurs and wallflowers: masochistically and sadistically. Upon his arrival, they made room for the supple flesh that was the boy by shedding some of their own, cleaving in the center to form a pair of hands. These hands rippled incessantly with talk, with Cambridge, the small esoteric conversation, huddled in between.
Sheets do not know fear, but they know pain. As Cambry fought apparitions in his third year, his body struggled against the confines of its vapid cocoon, unthreading, disentangling, decapitating. Living, Cambry's body burgeoned with each brush fire, the destruction of an ankle an indicator of budding muscle, a blasted tendon the initiator of the symbiosis of bone and sinew. Dead things do not recreate except in excoriation. So, unlike the boy, his bed sheets laid torn and ravaged beneath his green body after days oranged by battles of Indians, Romans and banality, their only tell a few wistful breaths cast like kisses onto Cambry's feet; they were the true soldiers-those who loved devastation and the man that brought it to them.
Cruelty. It is simple for living things who are equipped with such vulnerable materials for defense as skin, love and laughter, but not so for dead things, which must retreat, not attack, to hurt. Love thy enemy. In the exact correctness of love, they returned the bullet: no longer did they dilute the loneliness that resided between the ten-year-old's fingers, placate his feet by conceiving steps where emptiness was.
All loneliness and conscience lie within one vertebra at the tip of one's spine. The two, whether it be loneliness and conscience in elemental form, or bed sheets and humanity, are reflections of one another. Vacancy does not stem from the physical, for nothingness is physical, too, nor does it develop within the soul. Instead, it is the juxtaposition of two things-sadness is happiness is sadness, and that is saddest of all. The collision of fingers would, on many nights, divide the theme of sleep into multiple lilts, each ending with a stubborn tear sliding down the adolescent's cheek. Yet, every time this occurred, the stoic white statue would release its abeyance, arch itself to the boy's body, and touch one fiber to the nape of his neck. Loneliness is not shaped like a stone. It does not punish you for being rash, nor does it reward you for being alive. It is there to make it possible for you to sate that organ between your legs-for you to never get that girl so you can always love that girl. Don't you see? You will.
A jaded soldier is worse off than a dying soldier, because the world is received in consummate awe by the one who is dying: its violence and tranquility, thoughtfulness and intensity, beauty and disturbingness, are all presented under sharpened senses. But, the one who is released, he dwells on the absorbing end of the world, and must relinquish all of his integrity, insolence and inquisitiveness to be consumed by it.
This is the paradox. The one that makes the only hope for a weary soldier death, and the true love of a dying soldier the jaded one. When the bed sheets destroyed themselves by coming to life again-it is the giving up of wisdom, you see, that is the ultimate sacrifice, not the trials that resolve in the gaining of it-Cambridge, too, died. He breathed for the first time without the heaviness of youthful rhapsodies, summer eves and the quiet tragedies ideals bestow the heart, and kissed a Mary Lynn: on the nose, the lips, the forehead. Curled contour to contour, they folded together as the bed sheets terminated in the convening of the strange facsimile that would replace them.
Cambridge is born as one of two ghosts around a womb. His body is exalted and his memory is intact. And, his fingers, coalesced with those of another soul, have no need of closing.