Sight #Writephoto

The enemy showed up at the wall when autumn’s copper leaves twirled from brittle twigs and food ran shy. I slid my rifle from the borehole and dug in my pocket for a wedge of bread and wafer of dried fish I’d saved from my rations. The offering all I could spare, I reached into the cold tunnel, and my fingers lingered on the girl’s hand. She smiled, her pupils like glistening pebbles in pools of bronze.

Sisi buka nash corazones, ee?” she said in a language I couldn’t understand.

“You’re welcome,” I whispered. “You should go now.”

But I didn’t let go. She tilted her head, eyes crinkled in question. And as she did each day, she peered through the hole, and her voice lured me from the desolation of war. She told me stories in her strange tongue, soft words sharing blushed secrets and dreams. Her laughter rippled toward me, and at times, tears tumbled into the stream of words. She wiped her cheeks on the worn sleeves of her ruby dress, and I stroked her hand, yearning for her warmth through that dark stone hole.

I didn’t shoot her.

With the first snows, our officers issued fresh orders and we cleaned our rifles. I rested the barrel in the hole and waited. Bullets weighted my pocket beside the bread, and my fingers froze. She came with the others across the muted green of a beautiful and barren world.

“Ready!” my captain shouted.

Rifles clacked against the stones along the line. I raised my gun and sighted. Her red dress shone like a brand.

“Aim!”

She danced across the broken land, her eyes smiling into the black hole between us.

“Fire!”

I shot wide and high. She halted and stared at my borehole while those around her screamed and fled. Weapons barked like feral dogs; light flickered in the pocked blackness as we shrieked. The torrent of noise swamped my senses, and I shot through the hole until my rifle ran dry, shouting at her to run as tears blistered my eyes. Blood bloomed on her dress. She staggered backwards and pitched to the ground, snowflakes chasing her down.

Through the bitter winter, I stood vigil at my borehole, watching crows feast and snow frost the red silhouette of her body. In the spring, the last tatters of her ruby dress fluttered away in the wind, and I watched over her bones.

I don’t think I shot her, but she was just as dead.

***

Thanks to Sue Vincent for the wonderful prompt, despite where it took me.

***

Forgive me for this very rough translation of the girl’s words:
We (Swahili)
open (Indonesian)
our (Russian)
hearts (Spanish)
yes? (Arabic)

135 thoughts on “Sight #Writephoto

  1. inesephoto says:

    Diana, this story is perfect ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Umm, wow. I don’t actually even know what to say. This is beyond brilliant, it is something I can’t define. It is so short, yet so captivating and tragic. I visualized ALL of it and I am deeply moved. This is phenomenal!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. At first this reminded me of the first post I ever found on your site – the story of the child coming to visit the man under the bridge and then finding her doll years later. But this one would be from the perspective of the one inside the cave. It ended quite differently and yet there’s kinship between the two for me.
    I like this image and may try to write what I saw before I read yours. I did try one with the cave image last time too, but I was never satisfied with it enough to post it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for the visit, Sheri. This image elicited a wide variety of responses and reading them all is one of the fun parts of these prompts. And I always write mine before reading others, so I’m not influenced. I hope you give them a try. Happy Writing. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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