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Look, then, she said. They'd driven to town for some dry goods. Her hand pushed his eyes to the man tossing his carpetbag from the wagon, the man with the familiar features. He had hollow eyes and a leg wrapped up with greasy black cloths just above the knee. Wrapped up because there was nothing beneath it, just cloth, a part of a leg. A false promise of a leg. One wooden crutch beneath his arm.
There's your war, she said. There's your returned hero. Is that what you want?
Yeah, well, Roy said. They don't all have my luck, do they. I won't end up like that.
He rode out on his mother's driving horse, a big copper-colored gelding, huge swollen joints on him, built for pulling. Never had a lame day in his life, just always looked lame, or at least like he should be. Knots and windpuffs marred his legs. Roy saddled him carefully, smoothing the wool blanket gently. A horse with good legs is no better than his back lets him be. Roy adjusted the bit in the animal's mouth and patted the horse's soft neck and mounted up to go. With his mother standing at the doorway crying and his father inside eating at the table, Roy rode off to fight.
I'm running away from the fighting, too, he thought. Running into a fight to get away from a fight.
But he was free of it all, he reminded himself. In charge of his own fate. Independent.
He kept reminding himself of it, because it wouldn't stick in his head.
Somehow he kept feeling as if he was but an actor, that things had been scripted