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By S. A. CrawfordPublished about a year ago 3 min read

"If walls could talk..." the woman whispered and stroked my pitted, battled scarred side, "what would they say?" She turned her head, red hair flashing in the sunlight, and smiled at her companion. He grunted something and moved on, uninterested, but her smile, sad and weak, stayed with me for days.

The war came in the night like a thief and rubbed its stench across the city of Khoryv. Sunk its thousand teeth into the wood and stone, and devoured without compassion. Its teeth were, each of them, unique; tanks, rifles, missiles, and bombs. Fear, loathing, hunger, and indifference. They bit deep into the city, and into my stony flesh until the wounds outnumbered the healthy flesh. And how the people scattered.

They fled to the corners of the continent, carried on ill winds to new lands. But others came, and they were no more or less than human. Boys with scared faces and dirty uniforms camped before my cracked surface and talked about home in bird song speech. Their wide, tired eyes became white with fear as each shot cracked across the weeping city, and when a stray dog limped in from the cold, they split their meager meat with it and rubbed its shaking sides. They wept when a hard-faced man with steel grey hair shot it in the spine, ordering them to leave it to crawl and whimper for masters that would never come.

And so the time passed like wind or water, carrying pieces of me with it until a mother and child came to shelter from the whistling wind,

"Stay quiet now," she whispered, eyes lined with worry, old beyond her years as she tucked her swaddled child into the corner where we, my cellmate and I, meet. And then she was gone. And if walls could talk, we would speak of worry for the lone child huddled by our feet, cold and hungry and frightened of the whistling missiles overhead.

To be afraid to cry is not the nature of a child, but this one was so silent that we feared it had passed beyond our reach. Then it sniffled and looked around, eyes landing on the dog's bloodstain before they moved on to the stars between our toothless windows. And we waited together while they pinwheeled above, turning night to day, bringing footfall and firefight... and then she returned. Torn and tattered but bright and eager, she scooped the child up and fled... and there the story ends. That story.

So many small stories, unfinished. We never see from beginning to end, only the interludes, the asides between main acts. The swan song.

Then they came, after the red-haired woman but long before the end. Grim men and women dressed in dark clothes, faces set against the cold and guns, and they planned. They whispered. They watched. For a year they watched,

"If they find us..." those words bounced around the room, and slithered across my surface often. But they, whoever they were, never did, and the group grew. And grew, and grew until they were pressed against my pitted face and I could see it in their eyes; the ones who would not return. They cocked their head as if hearing some far off sound and their eyes were still as glass.

The war came for them with claw hands and pulled them out of my sight.

And I shrunk, and crumbled, and withered until only a bastion remained, a jutting shard of stone holding the memories of hundreds of thousands, pitted by bullet and blade while they hunched behind my side, praying to Gods that never answered.

And the war rolled on.

The war rolled on.

Short Story

About the Creator

S. A. Crawford

Writer, reader, life-long student - being brave and finally taking the plunge by publishing some articles and fiction pieces.

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