And monkey did see.

Dear Precious, wake up.

My first deployment has come. But before this business of war, on this May morning, I listened to you snore, scratch and whimper. The hollow room played tricks with the preemptive blue-purple chill of dawn. The room was stale from bodily gases, and unspiritual, from your chronic bedwetting. Carefully, I inserted this letter underneath the heavy lid of your sewing machine [a threading contraption and habit you inherited intact from Maman]. Bright white did its silver buttons shine in the purple of dawn. Hard to miss in the perfect timing when you would come wide-awake speedily from an outlandish nightmare as if to repair something you had forgotten to get to the night before. Your waking ritual would include the scratching at your neck and bony ribs. You would sprout from the mattress, flat as ground, to see it. It will be news to you. You poor thing.

Dear Uzo, guess what? — the letter announces. I am off to war! Yes, real war! Don’t cry for me. I will be back. I promise.

At the ripe cusp of teenage angst, age 13 or 14, she will pounce with rage, I will be told. She was so angry she spat, ran into walls, punched a window, beheaded an army of lizards, kicked chickens in the head, and went hungry for days. Then one evening, with the wisdom that comes after a long hearty cry, she made peace with it. She forgave. Just simply, she forgot why it was she was bent of burning the world to ash. I asked her prayers and forgiveness by way of good penmanship. This was in another letter I sent five weeks later, from war. By then, she was no longer her, and I was no longer myself.

Excerpt from an in-progress novel.

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