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.
Labels: flash fiction, Scriptic