I trace my finger over his back, very carefully, ensuring I touch only the parts that I know he cannot feel, attempting to read the story that he will not share.
His thick neck and broad back is honeycombed with large raw-looking purple shrapnel scars which gradually meld into smaller pits closer to his lower back. He hates it when anyone looks at him. He was a university swimmer but now I can’t even get him to go to the pool with the kids. He’s grown his hair long to cover what his collar won’t. I run my finger through his dry bleached hair, the colour of straw. The change was really confusing for Freya – How come the sun makes your skin darker but your hair lighter? Even though he’s downed a very potent concoction of three different medicines and should be out for the entire night, I remove the dressing very very slowly. Any perceived sudden movement or sound could spiral us into hell.
Feeling like a voyeur, I squint down to see it; and it takes my breath away. The tiny little dog tags with the names of his brothers, immortalised amidst the scars of his soul.
I bend closer to his right ear where I know he can’t hear me and whisper my love for him, and for the brothers he carries so painstakingly in his heart.