Flanders Fields by Tobias Haglund

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Jack drives and I give direction. He stops at a smaller war grave cemetery in the countryside around Ypres. Large trees grow here and there, two by the entrance. He puts his hand on one of them and looks up along the trunk. He caresses the bark and repeats it on the other tree. Once in a while a car drives by, bird song comes from the tree tops and if you listen carefully you can hear the canal behind the bunker. We pass a few graves on the way to the bunker. Despite the daylight the inside darkens quickly, after only a few meters. Four small rooms, too small for Jack to stand up. He strokes the smooth mold. I also do. He closes his eyes towards the inner wall and breathes in and out. In and out. I step outside. A small brook flows below, not deep at all and it probably risks freezing every winter. Jack still kneels in the darkness. I call for him and he gets to his feet. He stops by the bulletin board outside. In Flanders Fields. Jack reads the poem by John McCrae and stands silent in front of it for a minute. He looks out over the thousands of poppies and says:

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You Don’t Say No to Ituango by Amanda McTigue

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That was a person, right? That was a man.

Minka’s knee is already way too close to the steering wheel as she brakes hard. The car stops just short of a short tree. She knows that tree. Coca.

Shit.

She looks forward, not into the rear-view, because behind her is the curve. There’s no seeing around curves.

She hears thumping, dull, rhythmic. It’s her right hand smacking the map next to her, again-again, crinkling all of Colombia down into the seat cushion.

Shit.

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The Starling Fashion by Todd Levin

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For years after I retired I couldn’t change out of the freshly pressed suit that I always relied on to get me through the day, looking and feeling the best I could be. The only things that changed were the fit and the age of my hands when I looked down on them. Theresa had died a few years after I left the company and as such that left no-one but our sons Samuel and Beckett to tell me if my trousers were too long over the tops of my shoes. I was always indecisive about things and other people’s opinions mattered to me more than they should. Back when I was younger it was okay if you could feel the drag of the cotton of a tailor-made trouser leg way longer than it ever should have been behind you as you walked those long, glass framed, shimmering hallways looking over all of that success. I missed looking over it.

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