Dog tags are supposed to display legal name, blood type, inoculations, and religion. Pretty much the unchangeable stuff as far as the military was concerned. But the souvenir ones printed at the Smithsonian had a character limit and couldn’t fit all that. Tony never went by Anthony Michael Williams, so he’d had just “Tony” on his. He didn’t know his blood type or that they had a specific abbreviation they used, so he’d just put “B Positive.” Where he ought to have put Presbyterian, he put “Have Faith.”
He’d come home and shown me and he was so excited. Maybe I was jealous or just a mean kid, but I hadn’t given him the satisfaction he’d wanted. I’d sort of sneered at them and called them his “stupid dog tags” after that. Sneaking in and out of the house and they’d rattle and I’d say, “Shh. Hold your stupid dog tags.” Watching him throw himself into flips off the diving board and surface with them choking him, I’d say, “Take off your stupid dog tags. You’ll drown.”
On the floor in my room between the bed and the window, on that February Saturday with the sunlight blazing through the glass, I would have given anything to take those moments back or to hold those stupid dog tags in my hand.
“It’s all like a bad movie,” I said aloud, stretching my legs out again, my socked feet pressing against the wall at Kacie’s side.
“No,” she said, head still back, eyes still closed. “It’s a love story and someday you’ll tell it. But be nice when you write me,” she added, looking up finally and smiling that perfect, healthy Kacie smile.
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