Literary Maneuvers January 2021: Gunshots in the Hills - Page 2


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Thread: Literary Maneuvers January 2021: Gunshots in the Hills

  1. #11
    Indian Bones
    (650 words)

    (Anonymous)

    I lay on my belly, clutching the string of my pink plastic sled, which looms dangerously over the steep hill. Marcus is at the bottom. We are in the sixth grade together and probably in love. At least, that’s what my best friend Jenna thinks.

    All I know is I get goosebumps when he says my name.

    “Kylie!” Goosebump.

    I watch as he throws a well-crafted snowball softly into a nearby tree. Everyone is always talking about how Marcus has a good arm. They say it’s because he’s the ancestor of a Navajo warrior. I can’t tell ‘cause I hate sports.

    “Are you coming down?”

    “I’m thinking about it.” Next moment my eyes are closed and I’m gliding swiftly down, powdery snow getting in my eyes and hair. Yuck. But I like the jittery, floating feeling I get going down the hill.

    “Look out!” I open my eyes to Marcus waving his arms. He kicks my sled off course and I start slowing down. I guess he has a good leg, too.
    “You should be more careful. Y’know Sam in 7th grade? He had to get seven stitches in his forehead after sledding into a tree. He really smashed his head in, he couldn’t play basketball for the rest of the season.”

    “Oh,” I say, “Well, I figure they gave him a lot of morphine.”

    “No way!”

    “Yeah! My Dad had to get some for his back surgery. He said it was fabulous.”

    I am suddenly aware that we are sitting alone. It’s getting dark.

    “I heard that there’s Indians buried under this hill.”

    “That’s not true!”

    “Is too! Mrs. Mast said this land used to belong to them. And now it’s a sledding hill.”

    His eyes hardened. “White people took everything.”

    “Hey, they took plenty from the European colonists, too. Sometimes they even kidnapped whole kids. I read about it in a library book.”

    “The ancestors of those kids are probably doing fine. Look at any Native kid on a reservation. Most are raised by their grandparents, ‘cause the parents are alcoholics. Most kids turn into alcoholics when they grow up. And then they drink themselves to death. So the cycle continues. Isn’t that exactly what those manifest destiny white dudes wanted?”

    I get the feeling he doesn’t want to talk anymore; I just breathe hot air into my palms and wait.

    “I bet gunshots rang clear over these hills.” He stares off sincerely.

    “Maybe. But I’m pretty sure this hill is man-made.”

    “Why do you contradict everything I say?” He raises his voice.

    “I don’t. I just say what I think."

    “Well, maybe you should think first.” He clenches his hands on my shoulders. Goosebump, goosebump, goosebump. I can barely see his eyes in this light. The wind is whistling over us.

    “Kylie, have you ever kissed somebody?”

    “In Kindergarten I kissed Daniel Murphy. In the Principal’s office. He broke his arm from falling off the monkey bars.”

    I don’t know if Marcus is listening to what I’m saying.

    “I wish I could kiss you.” His voice breaks, and his arms fall from my shoulders and into my lap. He cries. A crying without noise crying. And I kiss the top of his open mouth.

    His chest stops heaving up and down. I feel his nose nestled against my inner arm. I’ve been getting used to goosebumps.

    One day Marcus will ask me to prom. I will make sure to say yes and maybe even wear a pink dress. If everything goes good from there we could even be married.

    But I don’t think any of this is on Marcus’s mind. I think he is watching the American Indians in his mind, seeing the silver streams from their cook fires and hearing their war cries and watching them live and die, live and die.

    I hope he is living with me in this moment, instead of dying.
    Nature weeps, the devil sings
    at mans greed and pride
    and what it brings

    Just lots of useless
    little things

  2. #12

    Pazi - Snajper! [650 words]

    "Wait for it!" Rada shouted to her daughter Milana, "Wait until it drives closer!"


    The white-coloured M113 with "UN" prominently stenciled on all sides rumbled down the boulevard. Seeing the two women ahead, the driver deliberately slowed down. The locals knew the snipers wouldn't fire on UN vehicles and used them for cover, the operators sometimes slowing down or stopping altogether to help them out.


    "Now!" Rada shouted when the APC was square between them. Milana dashed forwards, briefly stopping behind the vehicle to catch her breath and look for the next safe destination before sprinting again. No shots came this time. Relieved to see her daughter cross safely, Rada waved thanks to the driver, who waved back before moving on.


    "We should bring something for Uncle Radko and Aunt Zoe too, mom," Milana suggested after the two moved on, "They are too old to go to the market themselves like this."


    "I suppose we should, baby girl," Rada lovingly ruffled her daughter's hair, "It's the least we could do to repay for looking after your brothers while we're gone."


    Indeed, keeping an eye on two hyperactive five-year-old rascals was no small favour to ask from an elderly couple even in a city under siege.


    The blasts of several artillery shells a few blocks away startled the two women mildly, but they moved on. There was a shell falling somewhere in Sarajevo every minute these days. Thankfully, the Serbs manning the batteries in the hills around the city didn't seem to care much for precision, mostly shelling the city just to keep the citizens and defenders on the edge. Their snipers, on the other hand, were no mere nuisance.


    After walking through the largely-deserted block, Rada and Milana approached the main obstacle on their bi-weekly trip to the market. Seemingly just another boulevard like others criscrossing Sarajevo, Zmaja od Bosne was easily one of the most dangerous places to be around in the daytime, stretching its entire length in plain sight of the Serb snipers in the hills and high-rises in the occupied districts.


    "I hope they have apples on the market today! Branko and Vukmir love apples!" Milana exclaimed, thinking of her little brothers even at times when she and mother couldn't always eat their fill.


    "You know we have no money to buy apples, baby," Rada looked down at the girl, feeling almost guilty that circumstances had put even such a basic commodity beyond their means.


    "Maybe the UN will have brought some," Milana remained optimistic. The UN did not include perishable foods in their aid rations, but her daughter probably knew that, merely daydreaming to keep their spirits up. It was kind of the same way when Rada sometimes spoke of her husband as if he would return from the front any day now, even though both of them knew he wouldn't. Still, they kept up the fiction of dad coming home soon, if only to avoid having to explain Branko and Vukmir why they would never see their father again.


    "Pazi - Snajper!" The inscription on the traffic break clearly warned passerbys of the main hazard on this street.


    "We cross this one together," Rada instructed after peeking around the corner carefully, "If one goes first, they'll zero in the other."


    "I'm ready when you are, mom!" Milana looked to her mother with absolute confidence.


    "Ready? Go!" Rada exclaimed and broke into sprint with Milana close in tow.


    The snipers were clearly on the lookout, a bullet cracking past uncomfortably close to the two women. Then another, and another, a strange splat. Winded, Rada finally covered behind a corner on the other side. Something bumped her foot, and she looked down to see Milana's basket rolling on the ground. Milana lied still and lifeless just a few steps from safety.


    Amidst the many gunshots in the hills, one woman's wail of grief went unheard that day.

  3. #13
    WF Veteran Tettsuo's Avatar
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    Jan 2013
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    The Prong Collar (650 words)

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