Friday, August 10, 2007


Morning sun swells to fill the cloudless sky. It climbs above the young light. Soon, the merciless heat will press down.

The man's white sleeve rests in the half shade. Under a canvas awning, he holds a warm cup of tea on the tiny table.

He watches the bustle of the morning market around him. The sound is muted, because the heat smothers it.

Children sprint by.

A customer hands coins to the tea merchant.

Across the way, a dusty grey soldier tips an assault rifle always ready.

One child drops something the man with the tea can't see. The others pull and pile to snatch it from the dust. The man smiles at the way they scream and laugh.

The soldier is talking on a radio.

The man sips. The tea is almost gone, and it's sweeter at the--

r                            e                            d

v      a      c      u      u      m

w o r l d



The mix of mud colors soars.


The man hits, and every thread of breath punches from his chest.

He's gone from existence.

He's back.

His ears are ringing as if under steep seas.

He's writhing and choking. Things are piled on him, and he claws and pushes. The upended table falls away. Splinters of wood fall away. There are remains of things. Wet things.

Vehicles are coming. Brown eddies swirl behind running soldiers.

The handle of his shattered cup follows his hand to his throat. It cuts his neck when he rips his collar and sucks burned air.

Machine gun fire rattles in the distance, but no more suicide bombers explode.

Medics yell.

And the drifting dust begins to layer down.


LiVEwiRe said...

Oh wow, I really didn't see it working out in that manner. I especially liked the transition between pre and post. It's almost like a limbo of sorts which lends well to the idea. The really took me by surprise; great piece.

Church Lady said...

This is very powerful. I could see and feel every word. Very well done.
Have you ever been to the Middle East?

The Anti-Wife said...

Your descriptions are wonderful. It makes you feel like you're there.

angel said...

hoooooWOW dude... that had me holding my breath!

Vixen said...


Anonymous said...

Livewire, that's great to hear! The challenge to myself in this piece was to mirror the altered state of consciousness caused a trauma of that size. And the shock.

Church Lady, I've never been to the Middle East, so this is my impression of what it would be like. Many years ago, I was in a car demolished from the rear in an accident. Some of the sensations of being in the bomb blast was taken from that.

Anti-Wife, that's high praise. Thanks. :)

Angel, glad you felt it!

Vixen, much appreciated. =)

Sarah Hina said...

This got my heart pounding, Jason. At the beginning, I had images of Casablanca's marketplace running through my head: the everyday slashed by a hint of danger. You did a great job of turning everything upside down in a confused blink. I love the details of his tea cup handle cutting his throat, the air burning, the dust beginning to settle.

Very powerful and immediate. Great vignette!

Anonymous said...

Sarah, thank you for the wonderful comment! Your image of the marketplace was perfect--a tension that blends into the everyday. A tension so constant you begin to ignore it. I was trying to imagine what it must be like to go about your day and end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even in Iraq, victims must have a sense of shock and disbelief.

Shesawriter said...

Wow, Jason. Wow. When you write it's like you're painting a picture. I can see everything.


mermaid said...

I was just getting comfortable, and then you spilled my tea, my comfort all over the sidewalk. Now we can all see the stain, smell it, feel it, taste it.

And I thought the sun was oppressive. You present this with heavy words, but I am not burdened.

The weight of this is lighter if we can all carry a little bit of it.

Thank you for asking us to share it, though we will never know the whole story.

Anonymous said...

Tanya, thanks, my friend. It's nice to know that the immediacy is there.

Mermaid, you're a wise one. I do think the greater good is advanced when we can each experience a piece of the pain. We learn through experience, and so much would be avoided if we could feel the impact of evils before we create them. I was trying to put myself into the shoes of this innocent victim. The beauty of writing is that I can invite everyone with me.

The Quoibler said...


You know what I love most about this piece? That you've found a way to textually capture the simultaneous "in-slow-motion" and "quick-as-a-wink" aspects of a shocking event.

It reminds me of the few times I've fainted. The world has seemed both fast and slow at the same time. It's a strange experience and one you've expertly described here.


Anonymous said...

Excellent. Your writing caused us to feel what we are hardened to on today's news.

My eyes saw the red mist at the moment of impact.