” A Pale Green Mermaid Blog “
Tonite I thought I would post a flash story I wrote about the people who suffer most in war Soldiers and civilians,
KEEP CLOSE – TO THE GROUND
Akilah flicked on the office light. Bugs scattered across the floor, it was another dank wet night. Akilah tightened the curtains on the windows, shut the door and braced it behind him. Incursions into the city were frequent and brutal. His aunt and nephew had been injured just last night from stray gunfire. ‘ Stray gunfire. ” He thought, ‘ it’s all stray gunfire. Precision bombing, minimum collateral damage. Tell my nephew that. I suppose you could view human beings that way, but it doesn’t…’
” Boom. ” Thomas pulled back on the helicopter throttle and peered through his night vision goggles. The target was glowing with red yellow flames. He was still low enough to see darkened figures running towards what was once a building. His helicopter rose up toward the crescent moon, a bird awkwardly flew past. He thought of the night before and how he was sure he had hit a woman and her child. He wondered if they were all right. He thought of how his heart was not in this killing.
Marisol ducked as the rpg floated by her shoulder. ‘ Another day in Iraq, ‘ she thought. She adjusted the bandage around her arm and grabbed her son who was playing in a mud puddle on the side of the road. ” Nemat, come, it is time to go – Akilah is waiting for us. Look, you have dirt all over. ” Nemat held his mother’s hand tightly and brushed mud from his jacket as he stared back at the white paper boat sinking in his imaginary Arabian sea.
” Click. ” Thomas released the exit mechanism of his helicopter and hopped out. The waiting mechanics swarmed over the machine. ” It had a problem with the guide switch, ” he said wiping sweat from his hairline. ” It wouldn’t release. ” He walked to his battalion headquarters behind the Oasis, one of the best eateries in the city before the invasion. Now it was one of the bleakest, but it was still serving food and if he was lucky, an after dinner cognac. He planned to check in then look for Chris at the Oasis. Maybe her mission was complete.
” Ouch, ” Marisol cut her hand on the edge of the plastic ID as she scrambled to pull it from under a crease in the bottom of her dusty black handbag. ‘There were checkpoints every five minutes ,’ she thought. Even her fingertips were sweating as she handed the card over. The Oasis reataurant’s neon lights glowed in the distance. She hoped Akilah would wait, looking back she noticed a man arguing with the guards.
Thomas checked his wallet for cash. Up ahead he could see a man gesticulating erractically at the next check point. Shoving his wallet into his back pocket he quickened his pace, Maybe his newly acquired skills in the local language could help.
” Boom. ” The blast engulfed everything within a hundred feet.
Akilah sipped his warm Jasmine tea. The floor of the hotel rumbled. He winced then pressed the worn cloth napkin carefully against his lips. Looking out the large window he saw a purple and brown haze spread across the square in front of the hotel. His eye caught six forms, clouded in white rise above the glare. He rubbed his bloodshot eyes. When he opened them again the forms were gone.
See you next Saturday,
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This will be a weekly event until our soldiers come home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
www.ivaw.org Iraq Veterans Against The War
www.iava.org Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
www.veteransforpeace.org Veterans for Peace
BJ Halliday Crawley Editor