Shadows On Concrete
by Peter Dudley
All that remained were shadows on concrete. An atomic flashbulb caught a mother kissing her infant. It burned a snapshot onto the concrete wall behind them even as their bodies vaporized.
A thousand miles away, a “lucky bullet” from an M1 Garand found its way through a hundred leaves and into the breast pocket of a soldier squatting for a piss behind a bush. It pierced a letter lovingly scripted in blue ink, a crisp snapshot of a pregnant woman, and the soldier’s heart.
Half a century later, a man stands on a ledge overlooking a pit as wide as a city block and as deep as the sorrow lodged inside him. Concrete, asbestos, steel, and glass. Twisted, melted, crumbled to dust. Somewhere under the grinding treads of the backhoes lie the pulverized bones of his granddaughter and her unborn son.
Ten thousand times he has asked forgiveness. His only reply is hollow silence. He turns to the board labeled “Missing” and again gently touches the snapshot of a young, pregnant woman. Her golden hair is eternally swirled by a gentle breeze.
He has kept the M1 rifle all these years, in a locked trunk in his attic. A single bullet clatters against his old dog tags in his breast pocket.
He turns to shuffle off to the bus stop, the crisp January chill churning aches in his old knees. The cold sun spreads his shadow across the concrete, even as he fades away into the winter afternoon.