You Can't Close...

I stare at the bombs exploding on the plasma screen.  The fish in the tank open and close circular mouths, constantly demanding something I cannot give.

The camera cuts to a boy, newly-orphaned.  Tears wash streaks down grimy cheeks.  He speaks in a language I will never understand.  He lies there among the rubble of his burned out home.  I can make out a cast iron pan.  A mattress.  Too many bodies.  The smoke trails off behind the boy.  Sirens scream in the distance. 


Older boys in ragged clothes and bullet sashes run past and I remember my own boys playing war in the back yard, making guns of sticks pulled from the woods while my pacifist wife Karen wasn’t looking.

Karen enters now and hands me dessert on a silver tray: a slice of chocolate pie and a cup of coffee, black.  She joins me on the couch and we eat our pie, making the appropriate sounds of compassion like two fish glugging in our tank of warm water.  We sit for another moment before switching away from the inconsolable boy to a comedy show.

But this night, I do not enjoy the canned laughter; the pretty smiles; the flawless skin.  My mind keeps returning to the image of the orphan boy in a torn white shirt, a gash upon his leg; the smoke trailing off behind him.

I switch off the television set.  Karen loads the plates in the dishwasher.

I take a pinch of flaked shrimp and crush it between my index finger and thumb.  The greedy fish dart to the surface and retreat to the safety of the water.

I wonder what the boy will eat for breakfast.






For the Scriptic.org prompt exchange this week, Chimnese at http://mypoetrywriting.blogspot.com/ gave me this prompt: You can close your eyes to things you don’t want to see, but you can’t close your heart to the things you don’t want to feel. and I gave Grace O'Malley at http://thegraceofpirates.blogspot.com this prompt: Coffee grounds littering the floor and the bed just split off from its frame.

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Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: You Can't Close...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

You Can't Close...

I stare at the bombs exploding on the plasma screen.  The fish in the tank open and close circular mouths, constantly demanding something I cannot give.

The camera cuts to a boy, newly-orphaned.  Tears wash streaks down grimy cheeks.  He speaks in a language I will never understand.  He lies there among the rubble of his burned out home.  I can make out a cast iron pan.  A mattress.  Too many bodies.  The smoke trails off behind the boy.  Sirens scream in the distance. 


Older boys in ragged clothes and bullet sashes run past and I remember my own boys playing war in the back yard, making guns of sticks pulled from the woods while my pacifist wife Karen wasn’t looking.

Karen enters now and hands me dessert on a silver tray: a slice of chocolate pie and a cup of coffee, black.  She joins me on the couch and we eat our pie, making the appropriate sounds of compassion like two fish glugging in our tank of warm water.  We sit for another moment before switching away from the inconsolable boy to a comedy show.

But this night, I do not enjoy the canned laughter; the pretty smiles; the flawless skin.  My mind keeps returning to the image of the orphan boy in a torn white shirt, a gash upon his leg; the smoke trailing off behind him.

I switch off the television set.  Karen loads the plates in the dishwasher.

I take a pinch of flaked shrimp and crush it between my index finger and thumb.  The greedy fish dart to the surface and retreat to the safety of the water.

I wonder what the boy will eat for breakfast.






For the Scriptic.org prompt exchange this week, Chimnese at http://mypoetrywriting.blogspot.com/ gave me this prompt: You can close your eyes to things you don’t want to see, but you can’t close your heart to the things you don’t want to feel. and I gave Grace O'Malley at http://thegraceofpirates.blogspot.com this prompt: Coffee grounds littering the floor and the bed just split off from its frame.

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9 Comments:

At June 6, 2012 at 9:05 AM , Anonymous Maryellen Brady said...

I love writing prompts, so glad I stopped in for a visit :)

 
At June 6, 2012 at 9:46 AM , Anonymous scripticorg said...

Gorgeous, as always, Kelly. Can you do me a favor and post it in the comments here: http://www.scriptic.org/2012/06/02/prompt-exchange-june-2-7-2012/ (I would move it myself, but I can't seem to figure out how to do it)

 
At June 6, 2012 at 12:32 PM , Anonymous Annabelle said...

Love the comparison to fish glugging in the tank of warm water. Very effective!

 
At June 7, 2012 at 5:17 AM , Anonymous Mary said...

Well done! Serious food for thought in our conspicuous consumption world; one wonders what we would do in this war zone.

 
At June 7, 2012 at 6:18 AM , Anonymous Wendryn said...

Nicely done!

 
At June 7, 2012 at 3:52 PM , Anonymous Carrie said...

Great commentary on First World mentality. We have our happy, comfortable lives but all around us are those not so lucky. Definitely makes you think. Well done

 
At June 8, 2012 at 4:39 AM , Anonymous jaum said...

I like this a lot... Makes me a bit uncomforable because I associate with the guilt. If that was the purpose... you made it work TOO well.

 
At June 8, 2012 at 7:52 AM , Anonymous Comingeastblog said...

So much said in such a few words...flash fiction at its best. Great job, Kelly!

 
At June 12, 2012 at 4:49 AM , Anonymous Chimnese said...

really sad piece..

 

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