sound she made was one of completeness. I understood that sound, for I felt complete also. Whole and pure and satiated. Our movement was in unison, a narrow dance, a soft ballet of sounds and emotions and feelings, and all the fears I had possessed about such a moment seemed irrelevant. And though my eyes were closed I could see her, and her beauty was more complete than I could ever have imagined. And it was in that moment that I understood love. Love more than life itself. And though there would be times when I would think of Sheryl Rose and Linny Goldbourne, there would never be a moment like the one I shared with Caroline Lanafeuille that night in August when I was nineteen and the world seemed like heaven.
Later she left. She left me there half-asleep. She dressed. She leaned over me. She kissed my forehead, rested her hand on my cheek, and then she left. I heard the screen door downstairs, and though I wanted to lean up towards the window and watch her cross the yard and start away towards the Lake, I did not. Could not. I never wished to remember her leaving. I wanted my last abiding memory of Caroline Lanafeuille to be that moment I knew I truly loved her. Nothing else. I would not see her for many, many years, when we both had changed irrevocably. I would never really learn what her father had done that had taken her away, and I said nothing to Nathan when he returned from the fall testimonials in Charleston. I believed that some things, just a handful, were for yourself and God alone. ----
In November of 1965 the Army came to Greenleaf. Why they chose Greenleaf I don't know, but they came, and with them a tent the size of half a football field. They sent out buses to bring people from the surrounding towns, and those people came in their hundreds. They saw it perhaps as a family outing, and when they arrived they found the Army had laid on fried chicken and corn and potato salad. People crowded into that tent, and like an evangelical gathering they sat and waited for the Army man to arrive. Despite the season it was warm, and soon that tent was like an oven, people fanning themselves with the brochures they found on their seats. Children gathered in small crowds along the edge of the tent, chattering and laughing and squabbling. But when the Army man arrived they were hushed and well-behaved. I sat beside my ma, and to my left was Mrs. Chantry. In the row ahead Reverend and Mrs. Verney sat, with Nathan between then. The Army man was Sergeant Michael O'Donnelly of the Airborne something-or-other. He told us to call him Sergeant Mike. They'd rigged up a loudspeaker and his voice was clear and measured and precise. He'd done this before, many times I was sure, for it was from places like Greenleaf and Myrtle Beach and Orangeburg that LBJ's 35,000 men a month would come. They would give fried chicken and corn and potato salad to America's parents, and in return they would take their sons. Perhaps, to folk in Washington, it seemed a fair exchange. Sergeant Mike was a spirited speaker, a man of verve and passion. He believed in America. He believed in the Constitution. He believed in freedom of speech and the right to bear arms, and he was doing just fine until Karl Winterson who ran the Radio Store asked him how many of our boys had died out there already. For a heartbeat there was silence, a palpable tension within the acreage of that tent. Inside that heartbeat it seemed we were all gathered beneath a single blanket. And then there was a child's voice from the side. A single child's voice that cut through that moment and separated it like a razor. The moment split in half and rolled each way like an orange on