1.6. Doubts

Since I was promoted some things became more clear. Like this one – they had really no idea what to do with me. In the common military base area they just wouldn’t even employ me in fact. I’ve got this job at the school just because the Command demanded it. Or maybe „forced” would be a better word. According to the school manager’s face.

C6_01 Not if it made her happy, which she did not show to me clearly but it was obvious. They have had a full staff there. And as politely as she gave me to understand that, I was, at best: “redundant”.

Which forced Ms. Petersen to invent a job place for me. However I’ve had an impression she would be much more happy if I’d simply got an accident or just disappear. Or in more humanitary way – she probably would be very pleased if I’d start a housewife life and immediately raised the Island’s birthrate.

C6_02Personally, I thought the word “humanitary” wasn’t fit there very good.

C6_04Anyway – she would be glad if she could get rid of me, but she couldn’t.

And because of that I was turned into „music and rhythmic trainer”.

C6_03Not if I was complaining much. That was much better than wandering aimlessly around the school. When the most exciting and responsible work was being a „helping hand” for another teacher while kids were at school trip. Surely they treated me like a burden. Oh well, actually I was a burden and admitting that wasn’t comforting me.

So I tried to recall my piano skills, which never were very high anyway.

C6_05Proving myself again it wasn’t my strong side. Piano. Ever.

Mozart would kill me. But Beethoven would sever my fingers first I think. Maybe he was deaf but my playing definitely would make him hearing.

C6_06Not the best day I’ve had there.

And also I suspected they would want to make me “trainer of something else”, too. Maybe the Command forced my position but definitely would not going to pay my salary, that I was sure. So while I definitely wouldn’t be allowed to earning my payment by cleaning toilets or acting as yard’s guard, these easels there, in the arts class, as I considered after few hours of recalling some classical dance moves, looked intimidating…

C6_07I tried not to reconsider my painting abilities, which were far below my piano…

C6_08OK… let’s call this… “avant-garde”. More “savage” but “a garde” would be useful against reviewers. I really hoped that nobody cares in fact. It was really thrilling thought I would be placed as a painting teacher, trainer, … taste destructor, whatever… If it only would be about the walls…

Spicing this situation, most ridiculous part of this whole mess was, that I was supposed to be future officer’s wife. That made some of the jobs strictly forbidden for me, and it wasn’t exactly “a toilet matter”. You know, you cannot be a part of “officer’s wifes corp” and selling tickets at the Theatre or ice creams from the stand or truck. No way. They maybe were absolutely modernists, inventing spaceships, or such, putting the women into charge without a blink of hesitation, but some things were as old-fashioned, and chauvinistic as sixty years ago or even more ancient. Until you want to make your husband forever-lieutenant or some “bring-me-coffee-boy”, you have to show standards. Even if there was really none.

„Piss on it” Laurel gave me a friendly advice when she took me at the range „You got mad if you start to torture yourself with that”

C6_09„Easy to say” I looked how she reloaded the gun „You’ve got a real job. You’re not just a fifth roller piggyback to a soldier, useless as it is”

„Ouh, I have” She started to unload a gun into target „I sold yesterday seventeen thousands of tons of rice while buying three tons of uranium ore, not mentioning twelve tons of some shit I forgot name while I already put a new cement mixture on the market.”

C6_10“Soooo much fun, I’m dying of enjoyment girl”

She was working in some business company which name always was slipping off my mind.

„Try this” She put her pistol before me „It’s refreshing, believe me”

C6_11„I’ve never shoot before” I hesitated „And I don’t like guns at all”

C6_12„Don’t worry, just point the gun at the proper direction, you always can imagine someone’s face on the target screen” She laughed a bit.

Everyone had its ways. Elsbeth’s fishing, brat-like behaviour and drinking of Milena, Laurel’s not so very healthy fascination with guns and so on. I started to have doubts, honestly. About mostly everything, but local sanity level was sometimes my real concern.

„Instead of whinning” She told when I took the gun with rather not very enthusiastic attitude „Better sell me some juicy details of the general’s party, heh?”

C6_13“Nothing fancy to tell” I weighted a gun in my hand.

“Sure, you’re the one who is visiting the general’s place at the daily basis” She snorted.

“But it really wasn’t nothing special, just some talking making me uncomfortable, as it used to be” I sighted “I’m not so good with socializing, at all, you know”

C6_14The general’s mini-party was boring, confusing and left me with weird feelings. Definitely I didn’t want to talk about this. And definitely not with her.

And it was not about general or his wife being unpleasant.Or even overwhelming house of theirs.

C6_51Yes they patronized me, in some ways, not insulting much. Not insulting at all it was somewhat natural – in general’s case particularly. At last he was three times elder than me. His old-fashioned ways, something between being a grandpa and being a prince were quite natural in this place.

C6_50And it was even flattering.

However, when the men went to gentlemen’s area, forbidden to women, to smoke some disgusting cigars and drink overpriced Hooch and the most interesting discussion risen by Ms Hammond was around

“Another cookie, my dear?”

C6_52My stomach twisted. Imagine – this woman was once, it was just seventeen years ago, almost ancient history from these times perspective, a very successful lawyer. Menacing persecutor. Famous, with popularity and influence of hers own. And then…

“That’s quite lovely dress Miss Fox, you are truly flourishing”

C6_55“Thank you Ms. Hammond. It’s a flattering exaggeration. A very kind one.”

Where these almost two hundred years of constant fighting for our rights suddenly vanished?

And – if it was not enough – I felt constantly watched, observed, analyzed… Like some specimen under microscope. If I wasn’t there with Josh, I wouldn’t probably stay in this monstrous house five minutes longer. But I stayed a long three hours exchanging senseless opinions and babbling with her, trying impress Ms. Hammond I’m able to act like complete female idiot, as good as she was in such particular area.

Withholding strong need to pee wasn’t make this easier.

C6_56First time in my life I appreciated my school taming…

“Yes, yes, my Sleeping Beauty” Laurel mocked me “I wonder what is under these silent waters of you”

“And this is your particular business because of?”

C6_15“You know, we’re friends, don’t we?” She giggled “So before you get insane of this silent, shy and peaceful live of yours I’d want to be warned”

“So good to have friends around” I tried the gun

C6_16“Safety off first, darling” She turned a switch for me “Just remember the target is out there”

C6_17“Oops!” The gun kicked my palm like mad horse. I heard something breaking loudly.

“Good! You killed a lamp in the one shot. Now you feel better?” She nods approvingly

C6_18“Better deaf?”

Courses which they were forced me to take went rather well, at last I didn’t fail them. While there were plenty, from “fashion and sewing” – “for lonely shitholised grass-widows” as the name should be completed – to “potatoes as a home-friends”  (or “How to poison your freaking family in the cheapest way, ever”) I took a few, mostly from the Arts. Which I suspected was an additional factor for Petersen to trim me into this “trainer” job.

However, both Elsbeth and Sarah convinced me to take also basics for nursery.

C6_19“It won’t hurt you anyway, and give you some distraction, I took this years ago and repeated twice, could be useful” Elsbeth was more than sure

C6_20“You know, I know the First Aid” At first I opposed

“Nathalie, it not make you a true nurse in any way, even paramedic, so don’t worry” Sarah smiled a bit “No big responsibilities, no great obligations, no intimidating expectations – just basics of care, like ‘scouting for adults’, kind of. Take this as entertainment.”

C6_21“So, what’s the point of whole course if this won’t give me anything at all?” I raised eyebrows

C6_23“Hmmm” Elsbeth frowned “A salary raise? And some occupation when Josh shall get another 24, full round base-duty?”

C6_22I sighted quietly. It was the point. My school duties were rather short in time, scattered around the clock. Most of my free-time I was wandering around. From library to jog-trip across the forest, from lake to base… All around. Empty house wasn’t attracting me so much. And due to a rather short supply of books in the town library I’d read them all within a year. Twice.

“Anyway – think about it – have you ever seen a working brain, alive?” Sarah encouraged me in her certain wayC6_24“Have you ever seen breakfast outside stomach while afternoon?” I asked quite serious.

“Many times, but maybe your will reveal as special” She winked “A sample for Science?”

C6_25So I signed.

I probably wouldn’t if I’d know what it was really about.

“This is John, and this is Jane, they’re your patients, darling”

C6_30“And you’re?” I looked at the bodies on the beds. Honestly – omnipresent hospital smell, very intensive here, made me sick a bit. OK. More than a bit. I barely kept my last meal inside me.

“I’m Sister Mary” She grinned “Your instructor of course”

Believe me or not, despite brightness there I had a feeling I was accidentally placed within class-C, lowest budget, horror movie casting. “Sister Mary”… Please

C6_31“Sooo… Where I’m starting?”

“Where everyone started, darling” She grinned again “Trash and laundry”

C6_32It wasn’t the worst part.

Changing urine bags for catherized John was worse..C6_34A “John” just like a “Jane” was a phantom obviously, nobody would allow me to close to a real person in the hospital. These were little outdated ones, but still making a good impression of being real. Too real, if you’d asked me. I think – the piss in the bags were real.

C6_35Anyway, it smelled that way.

Apparently I was only one student for most of the time. Other girls passed this before, except Milena who resigned briefly after she painted training room wall with her’s dinner while one of “cleaning patient” lessons. Sister Mary was good in taking care of student’s attention. So while you was cleaning phantom’s tights, for example, you would always suddenly find your hands in the very realistic shit.

C6_40A really smelly one.

C6_41So, yes – there were moments when I wanted to quit, too.

“Good, Fox. She is disabled, now you break her hip as a bonus”

C6_42“She just slipped off… ma’am”

But sometimes…

“You will train intramuscular shots at the orange at first, Fox. When you master it, you will enter to the next level”

C6_43“Such as?”

“You start to train on your thighs”.

C6_44“Why not on phantom?”

My thighs, my own!

“You need to feel it to really learn, darling”

C6_45Sometimes I just wanted to run away.

But, at some point it became kind of competition between her and me. She was pissing me badly, in this arrogant, professional way, which made me really mad. It was a point of course, very common training practice, and I knew it well, but there was also something else. You know… When in you a kid is waking up who want to see “what’s inside?”.

C6_46Specifically, inside her were many things. Stuff. And fluid. Smelly.

It wasn’t realistic at all but, as I said, these were cheap, outdated models. Designed to pretend “a body” just from outside.

Ok.. some fluids were quite real.

I passed most of the courses, before winter came. Except part of this nursery one, which was much longer, mostly because of practice. But while it kept me occupied, as kids in the school also, and those next door, too – including last Helen’s and Claire’s deliveries, house empty too often wasn’t a real mood improvements. Josh was often in the base, mostly at these damned “around the clock” shifts. Which were turning often to two, three days constant absence in the home. Some weeks he literally lived in the labs. And when he finally came home, sometimes he almost fall asleep during a shower.

And we even did not married, yet.

At last they finally bring me Mr. Jones there.

C6_28Very angry and offended because I left him for these months.

And even if they know each other, Mr. Jones seemed to be a little disgusted by Josh.

C6_60“Nathalie, your cat pissed on my clothes again

“He is trying to familiarize with surroundings, you know”

C6_61“Does he has to do this on my stuff?”

C6_62It wasn’t improving things in any way.

I was there just for a couple of months, nearly half a year and I as it may seem to be stupid, I felt sometimes lonely, even if I knew that was exaggerating. Childish maybe. But I could not help.

C6_29 I’ve had my doubts. And loneliness wasn’t only reason. Despite it was supposed to be just an useful distraction, this whole nursing course showed me something else.

Than maybe some day, instead jumping around the phantom…

C6_49…it may be my husband.

Even if he was an engineer-kind, or something like that, he was still a soldier.

“It’s not the life for everyone, you know that, right?” Elsbeth said when I finally throw off this shit before her.

C6_70“Yeah, I know… How you deal with that?”

C6_71“At last there’s a quiet life. Nobody throw you from base to base thousands miles around. One season in the arctic, another on the desert. Funny. Adventurous. Without kids of course. And when you’re young” She smiled little

C6_72“This hole is like retirement with full salary in fact. I don’t complain.”

She turned a boat off the rock.

C6_75“I have kids, girl. That I deal with this situation.”

I stared at the sea

C6_76“But don’t look at me – I had rather limited options. Young, without money, pregnant, school dropped – all the best shit of rebelled teenager.”

“Did you ever…?”

C6_78“Thought ’bout change? Sure. Thousand times. Damned, once I even almost convinced Robert to retire” She laughed “But you know – The Army gave me everything. The husband, the home, a job when I needed it badly, healthcare for kids. If my children ever will go to the college it would be only because Army credits are still low in interests. And with Roberts’ seniority we would be able to afford it. Sure they don’t pay a fortune, and even many could call these money insulting. You know – corporate types. But it’s my life. Mine. I don’t tell you how yours should be, girl”.

“Sure, it was stupid question” I nodded.

C6_77“Wasn’t” She opposed “It’s nothing wrong having second thoughts Nathalie. Better now than later”

“I don’t have second thoughts.. I just… Don’t know”

C6_79“Girl – if you wanna master self-deception, you really need to work harder”

Surely. In fact it was shamefully simple.

C6_66My childish dream has been teared apart by day-by-day routine. And I was afraid to admit I’m afraid of the day when finally all this “probations” and shit shall end, and we really marry. I should talk with Josh obviously, instead, as any other morons’ in such situation, I walled myself against, growing and filling myself with resentments and hesitation.


Endnote: Sorry I made you waiting for this one so long, but finally I reached some point, not without an unpredicted obstacles. The whole “doubtful, hesitating, freaked” situation was planned, but I was rewriting and reshooting some particular parts of this chapter, changing scenery, dropping off some – e.g. “general’s party” become reduced to short reminiscence scenes. I decided it would by too much distracting – too many topics. While “snapshot” narration is not so bad, my tendency for digressions sometimes wins me.

Poor Josh again was pushed to the backscene… I really need to reward this Sim somewhat…

(And they both with Mr. Jones really doesn’t like each other)


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