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September 13, 2021
General Stories Kasimir Kozlowski

An Understanding

1 The sharp halogen beams of the Greyhound bus cut a swath of light across the white frozen tundra of the flatlands nearing a small town outside of Winnipeg, and the passengers are beginning to get a little restless. Henry also stirs to life. He’s been…
September 13, 2021
Fantasy Stories Abdulla Ameen

That Memorable Quest

Beneath the starlit sky, which not only had that dark blue shade but also a purple tone, with stars lying flat on the vivid plain, was the cavern he chose to spend the night. The hillside was riskier in the dark and that was the only thought that made him…
September 13, 2021
Crime Stories Benoit

Marseille

Marseille Synopsis Carmine Diop was looking for the Fast Lane; instead, he met his Maker. A mistake, a sin. The wages of sin are death for beautiful Annette and her boyfriend Youbai. Dust to dust. Marseille Every city has its specialties, including Marseille.…
September 05, 2021
General Stories Barbara Dolan

Dreams

She watched him from a distance, wondering if she should, how she should, approach him. Flying to San Francisco from Southern California, Alice took a bus north to the small town on the Russian River, a town she had never heard of, nor had she seen it on any…
September 05, 2021
Flash Fiction Richard Sanders

Leak

“Sir.” With Slayer blaring in his ears, Madison is in his own world scrolling through Twitter. His head is throbbing. He’s had a long week of school and work, not a lot of time for leisure. This is the first date Jordan and he have been on in weeks. He’s…
August 13, 2021
Fantasy Stories André Gouyneau

The Great Leap

Mike River, the owner of the Artificium Gallery situated on New York’s Fifth Avenue, was waiting for Glen Dinano. The brief message from the artist had fueled his imagination. The title – The Great Leap of Ronald McDonald – seemed catchy and he liked this…
August 13, 2021
General Stories Marco

Today's The Day

Still half asleep, Patricia opened her eyes and glanced at the alarm clock. Too early. Next to her, Joe slept soundly. She tried to doze but the excitement struck her. One last hurdle, then bliss, it will all be over. Today our lives change forever. She…
August 11, 2021
Romance Stories Barbara E. Dolan

Desert Fires

The flickering yellow light from the candles seemed to wrap the table in a kind of floating gauze. Her head felt light from too much wine, and it seemed that her body was covered in a warm, soft blanket. They had shared many dinners with Michael and Denise,…
August 11, 2021
Crime Stories NT Franklin

The Next Victim

Bobby put his coffee down as the two detectives walked up to his booth. “You should’ve been there today, boys. The divorce hearing at family court spiraled to new lows.” “Whoa, slow down, Bobby, you’ll choke on that coffee.” Detective Rush smiled when he…
August 09, 2021
Fantasy Stories Azahra Dea A

Meant To Be

It was Saturday morning, wind blew softly through her hair. She was enjoying a frappuccino at a café, yet she was losing her mind as she knew there was a room full of chaos inside of her. It was like a broken compass and she wedged there, screaming for help…
August 09, 2021
Crime Stories Leonore Wilson

The Snakes

Snakes. Long, thick snakes. Small slithery ones. King snakes, corn snakes, milk snakes, rattlesnakes. Residents of the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans had every reason to be anxious. Six years after Katrina and the snakes seemed to be everywhere. Neela Ann…
August 05, 2021
Fantasy Stories Steve Slavin

Joshua And The Chanters

Way back in the early days of Rock ‘n Roll, many popular groups were built around the vocal talents of their lead singer. Among them were Diana Ross and the Supremes, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Reparata and the Delrons, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Freddy…

Distance from my second floor window on Fourth Street to Anna’s apartment across the street was a canyon, a gulf stretching six thousand miles.  Back to the place that haunted my dreams, made my hands shake, killed ambition and chilled friendships.

 

So shocked when I saw her face, the scarred left side of her cheek that she tried to cover with her long dark hair.  But the eyes, her eyes were the same green I saw when she stared at me through the smoke after the gunfire stopped.

 

How the fuck could she turn up in my city, my block, across my street!

 

*  *  *

 

The day when it all went down the sky was the color of dirty pavement, the countryside erupted in yellow dust, and humid air smelled of death even before we entered the village.

 

A bad day, a very bad day to die.  Six of our platoon — my brothers — bought it when an IED took out their Bradley the day before.  Then Ruiz was popped by a sniper as he sat down to eat.  Barnabas, our squad leader, screamed at us to move out.

 

We moved.  A team of three — Alex, the Joker and Tyrone — smashed in the front door of the piece-of-shit mud hut where we thought the shot came from.  Place went under heavy fire for a full minute.  Maybe two, then they came out, thumbs up, and walked on.

 

I followed, but stopped to look inside the house.  That girl was the only one alive, huddled like a pile of rags in a corner.  Those green eyes asking What the hell did you do to my family?  Her family was all over the floor and table.  No more breakfast for them.

 

How can the eyes say so much without words?

 

*  *  *

 

Back at the Company I found the First Shirt.  Asked who we’d killed.

 

“Fucking enemy, that’s who.”

 

“One was still alive.  A young woman.”

 

“So?”

 

“Does she have a name?  Any of them?”

 

He sorted some papers.  “Battalion says Abbadabba-something.  Fuck you expect?”

 

“But I heard Mosul had a lot of Christians.  Were they Christian or Muslim?

 

“Fuck do you care?  Okay.  The chick is named Anna.  What kind of name is that over here?  Now get out.”

 

Week later I went to the hospital in town.  Just curious.  I saw her, bandages on her face.  “Shrapnel,” the Iraqi doc said.  “She will live.  Her father was translator for Army.”

 

*  *  *

 

Who do you talk to about shit like that?  Pinheads in the Pentagon had redeployed me back to the front three times.  I told an Army shrink I was hearing static in my head, couldn’t think straight, thought I might kill myself.  One more body wouldn’t make a difference.

 

He said, “Get back to your unit and quit malingering.”

 

When the saviors wipe out a family who did nothing, don’t we got a right to get crazy?

 

Found a priest — guess he was.  An old fart.  No collar, so he might’ve been some other kind of padre.  “Son, we all have our cross to bear.  I see nothing but good coming in the end — if there is an end.  Will you pray with me?”

 

What good’s prayer if you’re dead?  It’s a cop out for the living to get off the hook.

 

*  *  *

 

Anna, I’m scared.  I haven’t got the guts to talk to you.  I kept telling myself to cross the street and explain how it all went down.  I felt strangled even thinking about it.  I couldn’t do it.

 

So I watched.  I’d see her go out on an errand, running like a mouse caught when you turn on the kitchen lights.  Returning with bags of food or whatever.  Or I’d see through her window as she messed around in the kitchen.

 

I didn’t pull the trigger, but could she ever forgive me?  Maybe if I lied.  Said I was over there once, building schools or some shit.  Welcome to America, Anna.

 

Once, I saw her standing on the stoop and staring at the sky.  Tears came to my eyes because she was so small and sad.  Beautiful except for the scar.  She could have been an American, someone’s girlfriend, someone looking for a good job, a step up the ladder.

 

*  *  *

 

Took me a long time, but I wrote a letter.  Lots, but I tore them all up.  Finally said, You don’t know me but I heard from neighbors that you are from Iraq.  I was there once and loved the country and its people.  I live across the street from you.  If I can do anything to help you in your new country please let me know.

 

I signed it and added my phone number.  Late that night I slipped the note under her door.  And waited.  I’d added that lie about loving Iraq.  One more sin wouldn’t make a difference.

 

Two days went by and she didn’t call.  Maybe she didn’t speak English.  Or gave my note to someone who probably said I was a stalker.

 

*  *  *

 

Maybe a week later I was sitting on the stoop drinking a beer when she came out.  She saw me.  I stood up.  Lifted my hand to wave.  Smiled.  A welcome-to-America smile.

 

An odd look crossed her face.  Except for the left side that was scarred and would never move.  She came down the steps to begin crossing the chasm between us.

 

At that second I saw a cab kamikaze around the corner, aiming at Anna.  I jumped in its path, hitting Anna with a body block.  Saw her float back to the sidewalk as the cab hit me.  I arced over the hood and hit the street, thunk, like someone had dropped a hundred eighty-pound bag of something.

 

Cabbie hit his brakes.  Then just stopped.  No one got out.

 

I was hurt bad, but the pain hadn’t begun.  The clouds above broke for a second and I saw blue sky.

 

Bad.  I was either going to make it or I wouldn’t.  I wasn’t afraid of death.  I’d paid my dues now.  If I made it through the day, it would be a good day.  If I was going to die, well, it was a good day for Anna.

 

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Anna’s bewildered look, her eerie green eyes saying, “So this is America.”

 

#  #  #

 

Bio:  Walt Giersbach bounces between writing genres, from mystery to humor, speculative fiction to romance.  His work has appeared in print and online in over a score of publications.  Two volumes of short stories, Cruising the Green of Second Avenue, are available at Barnes & Noble and other online booksellers.  He’s also bounced from Fortune 500 firms to university posts, and from homes in eight states and a couple of Asian countries.

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