My grandpa was a paratrooper during World War II. He never saw combat; the war ended when he was in a boat headed across the Pacific. But the parachuting practice did a number on his back, and he complained a lot of the loss of sensation in his feet. “How can they hurt and be numb at the same time?” he said sometimes. He didn’t talk about being overseas much. That was pretty much the most I remember hearing from him about it.
On most things, my grandpa–my whole family–and I don’t see eye to eye. We’re polar opposites on politics, religion, all the fun stuff that blows up at the Thanksgiving table, or would blow up, if we still lived in the same state. But I have always thought about that quiet complaint of his a lot: “how can they hurt and be numb at the same time?” And I wrote a story called “Seb Dreams of Reincarnation” about that.
The story is live at Escape Pod now, where you can give it a listen or a read–the narration by Matthew Hamblin is wonderful and made me a little weepy over my own words, especially at the very last line. I hope you enjoy it; this story means a lot to me.