This page is a space where my fiction work can still be prominent even though most of what I post now are sermons.
-Mary Doria Russell, A Thread of Grace
with everything cancelled but shadows
He never let them cut their hair short. Her mother promised to take them to the salon right before school, but now Gabi doesn’t think she will be able to get her hair cut anytime soon. Gabi can’t hear what the police officers are saying because all she can see is her mother’s hair, fanning on the ground around her body. Gabi had tried to brush it out of her face before they made her let go, but in this heat there wasn’t any way to keep hair from clinging to skin.
Jocelyn is screaming. Gabi can’t understand why. It is hardly the time to scream. It is hardly the time to do anything. If he was still alive, maybe Gabi could shoot him, but he beat her to that. So she has nothing left to do except wait for her mother to open her eyes again. Gabi twists a strand of her own dark hair between her fingers, lets go and notices wetness on her fingers. Her mother's blood is smeared over Gabi's new blue jeans and the bottom of her t-shirt. Even the tips of her hair has been dipped in it.
A boy stood on the street corner, toes rubbing against the cobblestones opposite the bridge, the famed bridge built under the Ottoman Empire. Tourists came all over to see it before the war. Now no one remembered it or them. His older brother had jumped the twenty-seven meters off that bridge into the river with his friends, the ultimate test of a young man’s courage. Not that that mattered now. His brother was lying at the bottom of an unmarked grave outside of one of the concentration camps surrounding the city.
The streets around him were silent, but he was sure people were lurking within the windows of the buildings, waiting to die. Everything was waiting, always waiting. Even the bridge, wedged solidly between the Christian and Muslim sides of the river, seemed to wait for the bombs. His hair fell across his thin face; it had been a long time since he had to worry about things like a hair cut. He started to rummage through the pocket of his jeans to find a crushed box of cigarettes. Extracting a slightly bent one from the pack, he placed it between his lips and exchanged the pack for a lighter. The cigarettes were cheap, but he hadn’t been smoking long enough to figure that out. He inhaled deeply, smiling when he successfully suppressed the urge to cough. Lifting his head, he blew all the smoke out towards the sky. He let his hand fall, but kept his neck bent so he could still stare at the smoke as it dissipated into the air.
The explosion threw him backward, away from the river; his neck snapped back, but did not break. His small body hit the wall, and he fell to the ground, the broken bits of building digging into his thin chest. The bridge was gone. Jagged stone and thick rock dust had replaced it. The huge noise was not followed by any others, which was unusual. Only the sound of centuries-old rock crumbling into the river remained.
He closed his eyes and scooted his body closer to the wall. Blood ran from his nose down his face, but he just wiped it away with the back of his wrist and tried to stand up. Though his bones hurt, it was a normal feeling for him, so he just made himself walk over to where he had been standing. The cigarette was still burning, lying on the ground where it fell.
|The bridge in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, destroyed by people calling themselves Christian in an act of terrorism against the Bosnian Muslim people.|
At first, he couldn't tell what was inside because of the seaweed, but he scraped off the seaweed with his toe. The sock was in there and.