“Maybe I’m bad.  Maybe I’m a bad woman.  I don’t know when I became bad, but maybe I’m bad.  You get broken enough times maybe that’s how it happens.  You have nothing more to give and you have to protect what you have left and you don’t know how to love anymore.  My husband’s a good man, but sometimes I hate him.  I hate him for failing me.  I hate his weakness.  I hate that his head is hurt.   I hate how I have to take care of him now, how I have to take care of our children…  Sometimes I pinch his nose.  While I’m bathing him.  I pinch his nose and wait for his mouth to open, and it disgusts me—how it pops open, gaping, how he snores when he inhales.  And maybe I hate him because he can’t argue back.  He doesn’t make me defend myself, and I don’t like that.  I don’t like that I can’t make him angry.  I don’t like how he has power over me.  And that’s what it’s become to me now…  You Americans think you’re saving us, but my town is being destroyed just the same.  And do you think it’s them?  Do you think they have the power now?  The Germans?  I just saw it.  I saw it in your eyes.  That same smug feeling.  That same look in your eye my husband had when he knew I was wrong, but he didn’t judge me for it.  You know I want something.  You don’t want it, but you know I want it.  Just like those men out there holding us here, with no food, no supplies—you feel you have power because I want something from you.  And if you loved me you would give it to me freely.  You wouldn’t laugh at the injustice of my needs.  You would still respect me, even in my need…  Maybe that’s how it happens.  Enough time under siege like this.  Enough time wanting something from somebody that they won’t give you—you forget what love is.  You get tired of hurting.  And it becomes basic.  It becomes so you don’t want anything from anybody—you don’t see the people in your life like that anymore.  You have memories.  Ideas.  Like how I want to see where he’s buried—the first boy I kissed.  But it’s selfish…  I’m doing it for me now, not for him…”

            And I saw another impression of her—this woman I walked with.  I saw her taking pictures.  Not of her city.  Not of Bastogne.  The ruins we walked by.  But the same picture, over and over.  The same picture of herself.  Like she held the camera up to her face and posed for it.  Picture after picture—the same—maybe the profile a little different, maybe some with a flower in her hair and some not—but all of them, too many to count—just pictures of herself…  I’ve never been in love with mirrors.  Look into them long enough and you see all sorts of things, and that’s what I sensed about this woman, this mother.  She was trapped looking at herself.   The funny thing about it, the funny thing about pride is you don’t laugh.  You don’t laugh when you look at yourself, and you mistake it for love.  This woman was in love with herself, and though I’m sure she could laugh, even at herself—she could never condone someone else laughing at her without permission.  She was strong—I’d give her that—but she would never be as strong as a man.  And she knew it…  I knew I had to be careful.  I had to be careful with this woman.  I had to be careful in giving her what she needed.  Or like that boy we were going to see buried, I’d just become another fond memory…

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