NEWS FROM THE HOME FRONT

EXTRACT

On ceramic plates and cupcakes

There is a body in the hall. I step over it when I open the front door. I wrestle it aside so I can put little shoes – sizes five, seven and ten – in the cupboard. The corresponding feet are innocent and skip over the dead weight. I kneel beside it. It’s cold to the touch and I wonder how long it’ll be here this time.

Jon is on two days’ notice to deploy. He’s been on two days’ notice for ten days, his body armour guarding our house. It stands upright, to attention, waiting to be made flesh. My husband’s blood and breath will bring it to life. I hate it, but I examine it – I want to make it less human.

It’s made of a densely-woven metallic fabric. The layers are laminated together for strength, designed to resist stabs and slashes. It’s engineered to catch and deform bullets, to absorb their destructive energy. There are thick, contoured ceramic plates which slip into pockets positioned over vital organs; extra protection for the neck and shoulders, heart and lungs, abdomen, spine and lower back.

The ceramic plates are smooth and heavy and I try to figure out which piece goes where, like a grotesque jigsaw. Once complete, it looks enormous, too large to fit a human. I think of the statues in Florence, the colossal representations of men, and I think of Michelangelo scratching away at the marble, adding muscles and veins. This armour looks big enough for David, I decide.

I am compelled to try it on, but I struggle to lift it, so I lay it gently down and try to crawl inside. I tuck my head and arms in, and as I sit up it slides onto my shoulders. It compresses my chest so I can’t fill my lungs properly and my breathing becomes shallow. I pick up the helmet and notice that Jon has written his name and blood group in permanent ink across the front. I put it on and do up the chinstrap. I’m bulletproof, but I don’t feel safe.

I have to write this feeling, so my enhanced body and I lurch for the laptop so we can describe how we feel. Jon comes home to find me sitting at the kitchen table wearing every scrap of kit that he left in the hall, weeping over the keyboard.

“Are you going somewhere?” he asks.

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Rachael de Moravia is a military wife, her husband is a Flight Lieutenant  in the British Royal Air Force, but that isn’t all she is. She is also a mother, an author, a poet and a journalist. And whilst she is all these things, when at home in the RAF camp she is defined and known by who her husband is. News From the Home Front is Rachaels memoirs of her life, living not only as a military wife but as a creative individual with a passion for writing.

De Moravia met her husband at 18 years old when they were at university. They had both already planned their lives out; she wanted to be a journalist, and he wanted to be in the air force. Both managed to fulfil these desires.

She found it difficult to conform to the stereotype of a military wife and still be this creative independent person. She describes her home life as a secret — having over two thousand followers on Twitter and none had any idea who her husband. Just who her husband is can completely change the way people treat Rachael, as they “don’t know what they would say to a military wife.” When Rachael first moved to the RAF Base where she now lives, her neighbour introduced herself by her husband and his rank and was more concerned by who de Moravia’s husband was then who she was. It’s a very different way of life and this is what Rachael explores in her book.

The book is a look at  women’s role in a patriarchal society but also a window into a very private life formed through Rachael’s correspondence with writer Rachel Cusk.

If you want to support Rachael in releasing the first edition of her books, follow the link below.

https://unbound.co.uk/books/news-from-the-home-front