That was before the nightmares returned and every morning felt like another burden. Before he began craving the taste of that shit again! That bitter taste which caused his tongue to grow wild in his mouth, furiously rolling round the fat inside his cheeks, rubbing them dry as leather. A stinging pain that made even the most splendid gesture of love less important. Soon even the slightest resemblance of himself as a husband and father became a reminder of the lie he had buried so deep in himself that he was happy to forget. But he could not forget the dead images of war. That came to life like angry monsters in his sleep, waking him in the middle of the night, reminding him of all the fear evolved into loneliness too far to reach, echoes of other men’s dreams.
The first day Susan woke to something other than Lincoln whispering in her ear (some old silly, flirty line husbands tell their wives in the morning to suggest lovemaking) she came downstairs to find him nodding-out at the kitchen table. Saw him rocking back-and-forth, arms folded in his lap like a string-less marionette, eyes as heavy as falling stars. She phoned in and told Old Man Manopoulis that he had “fever,” that “the doctor prescribed rest and antibiotics and he should be well enough to go into work some time next week.” She told the children—who asked, “why’s daddy mumbling and falling asleep all the time?”—that he was sick or sad, depending on the day.