One thousand and three green squares from one end to the other. Lime green squares, match the lime green jello, match the lime green curtains, match the lime green creamed peas. You get the picture. I’m sure the nurses wonder why I wheel slowly up and down the corridor. It’s the number. One thousand and three. Where’s the symmetry in that? I demand order, discipline. So I count again. To confirm. You wouldn’t think that such a detail would matter in the grand scheme of things, but these days, that’s about as grand as my days get. I enjoy uniformity. Regimentation. Forty years in the military will do that to you. “Career Army” they used to call me. Married to Uncle Sam. I wonder how Lorna felt about that.
Aleppo, Syria (AP) — Prior to joining the Tawheed Brigade in opposition to the Syrian government, Anwar Addat was a computer technician who never gave much thought to politics or religion. That was before a barrel bomb delivered by a government helicopter ignited a fire that killed his wife and two children. These days he goes nowhere without his AK-47 and body armor, and looks every bit the insurgent warrior he has reluctantly become.
My father once told me that to be a man you must protect your family. The Reverend told me that you can only be called a man once you have taken another man’s life. They are both wrong. There are no such thing as men, only animals, living in the wild and fighting and killing each other until there is no one left to fight and kill. Here in the jungle we are wild things, fighting a war that started long before any of us were born and will continue long after we are gone.
It is dark here, the floor is wet and the smell is dreadful. The window is barred and I can’t reach it to see out. There is nothing in this stone room, nothing except me and Alia.
The pain was indescribable. First had been shock and horror then disbelief and now all that was left was pain.
In a damp cellar the mould mixed with the scent of urine coming from his rags. A drop of sweat still dangled at the tip of his black hair from an excruciatingly painful hour as the hatchway closed. He was strong, the strongest, but he had never endured that level of pain. Moss and mice were signs of hope, or at least hope of life in the dark.
Conspirator. Traitor. Your house shall burn and your name will be dragged in the mud.
And they dragged his face in mud. Along the wooden planks and the stone. From one side of the long wall to the next. Two hard punches to the back of his head threw him into the stone. He lost teeth. A man stamped him in the lumbar region, which was the reason he couldn’t stand up.
Lars said to Miranda, “Understand this…” and left the table.
A series of explosions shook the six storey building but did not deter Miranda’s study of him; his untidy egress.
Through the narrow living space towards the sash window, she watched him go. Observed him at the window and after a time wondered why he found what was on the other side of the glass – a post-siesta pre-bombardment tableau in the still spring air – more compelling than whatever it was she supposed he intended to spout next.
If indeed there was more.