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Art From Art

In my English class we had a project where we had to create our own artwork inspired by Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. You could make whatever you wanted, painting, poem, short story whatever. Most people went for the obvious easy choice and did drawings, some of them were pretty good though. I, of course, chose to do a short story, and totally owned everyone at the gallery thing we did today where we displayed what we created. This was my story:

On The Porch

It was a bright sunny day in the heat of summer. The cicadas whirred, the trees swayed slightly in the occasional breath of breeze that distilled the otherwise heavy humid air. The children played in the street, running around, aiming at each other with their fingers.

“Bang! You’re dead!” cried one. He was tall and lanky, probably the eldest of the group, but not any older than nine or ten.

“Am not, you missed by a mile!” shouted back another, who was shorter and rounder, and probably a few years younger than the other.

“I hit you fair and square, you’re dead.”

“Am not!”

“Are to!”

“Am not!”

Mr. Harris sat on his front porch and watched them. Mr. Harris was getting on in years, mid fifties. He was a veteran of the Vietnam war, and had the scars to prove it. He’d gone off to war an energetic young man, and come back very different. He’d married his sweetheart, who subsequently divorced him. After the “incidents” at work he was no longer employed. He lived off the government in the small house on the suburban street.

He watched the children play. They ambushed, flanked, and took cover, it was funny really, to see all the moves he’d spent weeks in training learning, and then repeating out on the battlefield, mimicked here by small children. The familiar patterns elicited memories, bad memories, horrible memories, memories full of blood and death and fear. And here were these children, playing in the street.

“Bang! Bang! Bang! You’re dead!”

The gunshot split the air, it felt as though the atmosphere was glass that had been shattered, and should now fall down in tinkling shards around everyone’s feet. The child lay dead in the street. Mr. Harris smiled. It wasn’t any different than he’d remembered, killing. It was easy really. Aim, squeeze trigger, bright flash, deafening bang, sentient being becomes flesh and blood… lots of blood.

He fired again and again. The children screamed and ran. Leaving the dead lying in the street. Their blood spilling onto the ground. After a moment the street was clear, and Mr. Harris stood there with his gun. He surveyed the street, nothing moved. It was quiet. The cicadas had stopped. He sat back down in his chair. What a mess, he thought. It would make a great news story. He could see himself on TV, all the networks putting up his picture with all sorts of captions and people yelling at each other about why he’d done it and other such nonsense. The news trucks would probably get here before the ambulances. Everyone would call it a great tragedy. Humph, tragedy, what do they know about tragedy? The sirens sounded faintly in the distance. What a mess the trial would be. He would almost certainly be sentenced to death. And then he would rot for years in a cell while lawyers got rich off his case, and he waited to die. No, it would be easier just to aim, squeeze trigger, bright flash, deafening bang, sentient being becomes flesh and blood.

Awesome right?

Update: I got a 100.


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