In our living room after the war

“…and as you know, Bush’s numbers were in decline six months after the war started…”

“It’s strange,” I said. “I was in university when this war started, but I was in Grade 2 when the First Gulf War started. I don’t remember enough to compare the two. I don’t really remember what things were like, aside from my cartoons being cancelled.”

Mr. Ashby squinted, searching his memory. “I would have been in Grade 6 or 7. I remember building F-18’s out of Lego. I followed pictures from the newspaper.”

“That’s a really special skill,” I said. “Looking at something in two dimensions and creating it in three.”

“Well, I looked at different pictures, to get all the angles…”

Another memory occurred to me. “I had a friend whose dad was in the Coast Guard, so he knew all about ships and stuff. He and this group of boys spent recess drawing them — drawing all these vessels and fighter planes and armaments. And I really wanted to be let in, so I practised as hard as I could, but they wouldn’t let me in.”

Mr. Ashby frowned. “Why not?”

“I was a girl. And I sucked.”

“But…but that’s so sad…”

“It’s just the way things worked.” I paused, remembering the cramp in my hands as I drew gun after gun after gun on a tiny square of white paper ripped from a pad bearing the logo of a windshield repair firm in another city. My left hand smeared with the cheap blue ink of a ballpoint pen, my whole body hunched over that hand, as though all the cells could somehow divert enough energy to compensate for the lack of talent. “I’ve always been trying to break into boys’ clubs.”