1970, Kansas City, Missouri
Annette said yes! I have to admit, when Rick decided to ask her to prom via messenger pigeon, I was worried. Especially when the pigeon flew into a power line and burst into flame, landing at her feet a charred pile of feathers atop a burnt note that said "rom?" But missing P be damned, she said yes! And we finally have a prom date.
Oh, I'm so excited! We'll dance all night. Maybe she'll run her fingers through me while we move to the Jackson 5, my favorite band! That little Michael has a future bright and worry-free, I'm sure.
Oh, I know it's naïve, but life feels so perfect right now. The war is coming to an end, The Chiefs won the Super Bowl, and even though he looks like a laminated sweet potato, I've got a good feeling about this Richard Nixon guy. Something about him just makes me want to trust him.
Yesterday was one of the prettiest days I've ever seen. Maybe it's just the new conditioner talking, but everything just seems sweeter lately. A butterfly landed on top of me on the way home from school, and it was so lovely. Rick screamed and swatted at it, but I think he thought it was a bee (he's allergic).
Gosh, I wish I could feel like this forever.
1971, Somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea
We're in the Navy now. It's a hard life, but it's honorable. Rick always said there's no better thing a man can do than serve his country. And if that means I've got to stay short for a few months, well, that's a sacrifice I can make.
I do worry about Rick, though. These last few months at sea have really been getting to him. The other sailors tease him. A few weeks ago in the showers one of the officers said Rick's butt looked like two sugar cookies that got put too close together in the oven, and ever since, they've been calling him "Cookie Butt." They even did a mean ol' thing where they got a hold of his uniforms and sewed the letters C and B on the rear of his pants.
He tries to laugh it off, but I know it's getting to him. At night, he twists around in his sheets and pulls at me. Something's changing inside him. I don't know what it is but I can feel it too. It's like -- whatever it is that got inside of him -- is in there trying to push me out. I hope we see land soon. We need to get on home.
1992, Naples, Florida
Fatherhood has proven rewarding but difficult. I feel I've taken the brunt of the abuse. Don't get me wrong, both our daughters are absolute angels -- gifts from god.
But each morning I wake, I feel like there is less and less of me.
This is by far the most difficult thing we've ever attempted. It makes that one autumn we spent working as a bull semen collector feel like a leisurely stroll in the park.
2000, Stamford, Connecticut
I am disappearing. This -- my own mortality -- I've grown to accept. The forehead has been steadily advancing for some time now, crawling closer each week like an evil white blanket on its way to tuck me in for eternity. If there is any love left in this world, I've haven't seen it in some time.
Rick's in deep with the government these days. Medicare fraud or something like that. His mouth gets farther each day, but I can still hear what's going on. Sometimes, though, I wish I couldn't.
I'll keep this short. My energy is dwindling.
Now I'm lucky if I get a single dab of whatever off-brand baby shampoo Ann has the maid pick up. Yesterday I caught a glimpse of the hair dryer and couldn't help but think how sweet it would be to flick that puppy up to high, and let it sear me away. Then I could just float off in the wind. Maybe it would carry me back to better times.
2011, Tallahassee, Florida
I see it now. Death, that is. The cycle of life is cruel, but it does not discriminate. We all face it at one point or another.
Sometimes, when it all gets to be too much, I'll think back to that day in 1970. I'll think about Annette caressing me as we swayed back and forth in the middle of the gym, the disco ball spinning, lighting up her eyes every so often. I think about it. Back then, before that darkness took over, when all we had was each other -- and we didn't want it any other way. It's nice to think about. But the memory is slipping.
I am cold now. I am so very cold.
2014, Broward County, Florida