“The Soldier”

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Plot Description

Spoiler warning! Robert is a soldier back from the war, and he has problems. He seems to have some sort of nerve damage that makes it difficult for him to feel heat or pain. He longs to return to the seaside holidays of his youth. He’s married to a woman named Edna, who seems to delight in tormenting him (or so he thinks). He cringes whenever he hears a plane fly overheard. He believes that Edna is changing the hot water taps and the doorknobs to confuse him. He sees faces peering at the window. He hears people following him outdoors at night. One night, returning home, “something small but violent exploded inside his head and with it a surge of fury and outrage and fear.” He goes inside and heads upstairs to Edna, but finds that it is another woman instead. She claims to be Edna’s friend Mary. She tells him to put down the knife in his hand. Robert tells “Mary” that though he loves Edna, she’s an “awful cruel little bitch.” He tells her that she rather looks like Edna. He wants to check for Edna’s birthmark behind her left ear. He moves in close and she suddenly turns and slaps him hard across the fact. As he sits on the bed and cries, she takes the knife from his hand and goes swiftly downstairs to the telephone.