I am undressed but it won’t matter soon enough, and besides, this era has retained its wise and founded fear of nude women appearing beside bodies of water, even ones as ancient and ugly as myself. I am a known omen not to be disturbed.
He stood with his back to us in his black trousers and white shirt, washing his hands. Flies crawled over the worktop and flitted into the pot of rice and peas on his stove. Mum and I exchanged a glance and she nodded at me.
All women dream of rescuing Napoleon. For less ambitious girls, it is only a passing fancy. They imagine sailing across the Atlantic on a stolen ship, their hair flowing behind them like a flag. Napoleon will watch from a window in his tower as they stride upon the beach, swords drawn, thrusting and parrying their way through dozens of red-coated British soldiers and evading the horses’ hooves, the dogs’ teeth. There will be traps too, they think: quick sand and spring guns which only the cleverest of girls could survive.
My name is Violet. I’m married to Tom and I’m old and I’d like to say that’s how I introduce myself to people, but it would be a lie. I don’t introduce myself to anyone. I’m of no interest, not even to Tom, who has heard all my anecdotes so many times that he corrects me when I get the details wrong. Which I, quite deliberately, do.
The newcomer caught sight of her and saluted, grinning, and Captain Perea saluted back, disconcerted by the mirrored feel of it. And the civilians started clapping now, the cheering subsiding and giving way to the clatter. Two war-injured heroes meeting again, what a sight!
The directives for this were in our/my banks before our/my consciousness was. Simple instinct to unfurl the durable panels, like old sails, we/i always remind ourselves/myself. Simple instinct to gather the light, to calculate the need, to retract when complete. Simple instinct to respond to the request beacon.
we/i unfurl, instinct.
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