AUGUST 2, 1975
Maria Beliaeva

March 29, 1973
U.S. combat troops leave Vietnam.

Operation Homecoming. And I'm still waiting--

April 1,
Hanoi releases last American POWs. Still, still waiting.

We have a funeral, but the casket is empty. Across the grave, Matthew's eyes caress mine with soft, soft glances. Only in the winter 1974 did I dare believe my luck. Rick was dead. Rick was gone. Forever.

Wrong. Again.

August 2, 1975,
a hot afternoon, the hottest ever recorded in Massachusetts. 107 degrees. All you can do is lie on the porch and feel yourself melt. And then--Oh, lord, then--Like a splash of ice on my head, I feel my teeth shatter in my skull.

"Vivi," he says and I barely recognize the voice. "Rick," I whisper hoping that'll be enough. Of course, it isn't.

"You didn't wait for me, Vivi. I love you." "I loved you, too," and from within his matted beard, his dirty colorless face, two eyes embedded in quartz shine. A grey, metallic glow. Same as the gun in his hand. "You gonna kill me, Rick?" "I love you, Vivi."

Didn't kill me. Killed Matthew. Of course, sent to prison for murder. And again I'm waiting. God! But I can't seem to wipe away those eyes. Matthew's soft brown velvet, the tender lip-less kiss of the lashes. And Rick's steel kill. God, how I love them both. Didn't even realize it before that day. The hottest day ever in Massachusetts. The coldest day ever for me.

First published: February, 2006
comments to the writer: Knob'