Sarah worried. She departs for a long tour of Afghanistan in a few weeks and frets for Scylla. Her man appears well and strong now but Sarah, having a long, intimate relationship with depression fears he will suffer depression again whenst she leaves. He is alone, says he perfers things this way. Sarah knows that on any given day the number of people Scylla speaks with is often zero. He spends more time with the dogs or his ghosts then any live person. Worriesome.
Scylla tries to belay such fears. To worry about him safely ensconced in the glory of Hawaii while Sarah heads off to combat once again seems a bit wrong to Scylla. So beyond a, "Don't worry I'll be fine" he refuses to discuss the issue with Sarah.
Scylla worried. 12 months maybe 18. Scylla is sure it will be 18 months. Last 12 month tour in Iraq Sarah was shipped home after 7 months due to a fractured hip. So time to make up. The Army might forget to pay you, might forget to promote you but they do not ever forget exactly how many hours you spent in a combat zone.
Sarah has friends and informants through out Schofield Barracks. They witness Scylla stomping all over post with their two leashed dogs. Talking to himself, to the dogs? Who might say? Sarah knew that Scylla spoke to their dogs all day long and that sometimes he would forget the world large and talk with his Grandfather and their son out loud.
So she worries. In lieu of his mind and where it might lie Sarah speaks to Scylla of small details. They have both discovered how important these small items can be. Such as shaving and haircuts...
Sarah enjoys watching Scylla shave. It is a singular personal act for one who eschews mirrors and solemnly avoids his own ragged visage. Each Saturday morning Scylla wakes Sarah with coffee, hers light and sweet with extra chocolate his black and hot to boil. Sarah sits on their bathroom counter, slight and small with her brown legs drawn up into her chin. Thusly she watches as her man prepares to scrap away his whiskers.
Scylla squats, reaching under the sink he removes an oiled, yellowed and worn chamois wrapped in the leather of his razor strop. He turns the hot water faucet on full and unwraps his tools. A Beavertail brush with a cracked and yellowed grab, a sliver of old soap for lather and a straight razor that is almost one hundred years old with a gleaming white bone handle. Scylla runs the soap and the brush under the hot, steaming water and in one hand begins to make lather. After brushing his face with lather he runs the blade under hot and then turns the taps to cold and runs the blade back and forth.
Sarah watches close knowing what leaning over the sink cost Scylla in pain to his back. Knowing that he passed just this blade to their son months before his death, that this blade has a provenance back to Scylla's Great-Grandfather and the Easter Rebellion. He would not speak of it so neither would she. A man wed to such a past should be allowed some strength no matter how foolish...
Somewhere deep inside herself Sarah liked that each Saturday morning Scylla would dissemble this razor. She liked that his large, squat fingers would remove the tiny brass screws holding the handle, laying each one on the chamois. Then he would wipe down the blade and oil the handle with a small tube of oil scavenged from their cars.
Sarah knew that today she must cut Scylla's hair. Scylla's hair grew fast and thick. Every two weeks it called for cutting. If not on the third week she knew Scylla would rise early and using the lanai light and their family room glass as a mirror he would lower his head as if a penitent in prayer and cut it away. Only that since he could no longer turn left his cut was always spikey and off centered.
An appearance Sarah would not countenance. Was it his career in the military or just preference that he choose to keep it very short? Scylla always proclaimed it sloth and no more. Short hair required no combing, no primping and nothing more than a bar of soap to clean. Doesn't matter as Sarah has been cutting his hair for almost 17 years. This August 24th 2012, it would be 17 years official. Sarah enjoyed cutting his hair, it was an intimate act, one of love; she would run her fingers through his hair, feel each rise and fall, blow the hair off his ears and neck. Sarah knew from feel each plate screwed to Scylla's skull according to every small rise and also those indents from where his skull plates sunk in after two surgeries. No Barber but after so long Sarah could use sissors as well as the clippers on Scylla. He liked it cut to 1/4 of an inch each time and Sarah would oblige yet cut the front a tad longer so that he might sweep it back off his face.
Now with Sarah in Afghanistan Scylla lowers his head as if in prayer and begins to clip away his hair. He grunts and tries to make the left side even with the right. After a few attempts he shrugs and thinks, "Good enough". Really it's terrible and as Scylla lowers his head once again and prays to God for Sarah's safe return.