Tonight she'll be with Jeremy, her lieutenant, but she wants to be with Roger. Except that, really, she doesn't. Does she? She can't remember being so confused. When she is with Roger it's all love, but at any distance- any at all, Jack- she finds that he depresses and even frightens her. Why? On top of him in the wild nights riding up and down his cock her axis, trying herself to stay rigid enough not to turn to cream taper-wax and fall away melting to the coverlet coming there's only room for Roger, Roger, oh love to the end of breath. But out of bed, walking talking, his bitterness, his darkness, run deeper than the War, the winter: he hates England so, hates "the System," gripes endlessly, says he'll emigrate when the War's over, stays inside his paper cynic's cave hating himself... and does she want to bring him out, really? Isn't it safer with Jeremy? She tried not to allow this question to often, but it's there. Three years with Jeremy. They might as well be married. Three years ought to count for something. Daily, small stitches and easings. She's worn old Beaver's bathrobes, brewed his tea and coffee, sought his eye across lorry-parks, day rooms and rainy mud fields when all the day's mean, dismal losses could be rescued in the one look- familiar, full of trust, in a season where the word is invoked for quaintness or a minor laugh. And to rip it all out? three years? for this erratic, self-centered- boy, really. Weepers, he supposed to be pas thirty, he's years older than she. He ought to've learned something, surely? A man of experience?
If the rockets don't get her there's still her lieutenant. Damned Beaver/Jeremy IS the War, he is every assertion the fucking War has ever made- that we are meant work and government, for austerity: and these shall take priority over love, dreams, the spirit, the sense and the second-class trivia that are found among the idle and mindless hours of the day... Damn them, they are wrong. They are insane. Jeremy will take her like the Angel itself, in his joyless weasel-worded come-along, and Roger will be forgotten, an amusing maniac, but with no place in the rationalized power-ritual that will be the coming peace. She will take her husband's orders, she will become a domestic bureaucrat, a junior partner, and remember Roger, if at all, as a mistake thank God she did not make...
Oh, he feels a raving fit coming on- how the bloody hell can he survive without her? She is the British warm that protects his stooping shoulders, and the wintering sparrow he holds inside his hands. She is his deepest innocence in spaces of bough and hay before wishes were given a separate name to warn they might not come true, and his lithe Parisian daughter of joy, beneath the eternal mirror, forswearing perfumes, capeskins to the armpits, all that is too easy, for his impoverishment and more worthy love.
Jessica steps away from Roger to blow her nose. The sound is as familiar to him as a bird's song, ip-ip-ip-ip NGUNNGG as the hankerchief comes away..."Oh sooper dooper," she says, "think I'm catching a cold."
You're catching the War. It's infecting you and I don't know how to keep it away. Oh, Jess. Jessica. Don't leave me,,,,