Penelope is not called a Military Wife.
But she is a military wife—living the story, living the war, learned and retold. This time, she is scoffing at the ‘90s Army Wife Etiquette book still sold at the PX; she flips through it and feels guilty. She isn’t sure why.
This time, no one assumes Odysseus is dead. His letters are proof, and when she comes home from work, Penelope locks the doors behind her and touches herself.
There are no oceans this time, either. North Carolina is not Ithaca. Penelope hikes the trails alone, nonetheless. She laughs to herself when she remembers that this was never supposed to be a comedy or a tragedy—just the same war, and war is predictable. The sun roasts the pine needles in the sand hills, sending up a scent like sacrifice, sweet and hot. Some god surely likes it—the way the smell sticks to the skin, the nostrils, the lungs, thick as the blood spilt here and the blood to come.
Someone tells Penelope that being a wife is the hardest job in the military. She cringes; she’s heard this for centuries and still doesn’t believe it.