• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 09
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War Games

‘Pull it tighter,’ the girl says.

She is determined. Her chin is sharp above the hollows of her neck and long hair drapes over bony shoulders, lately stripped of their unworried childhood flesh.

‘No, it will hurt you,’ the boy says, his hands shaking as the silken ends of the scarf slip through his fingers.

She pushes him away. Her hands are tight little fists, curled in constant preparation to beat someone or something. She kneels, as if in prayer, on a concrete slab in the courtyard, where they have to stay at all times. The skin on her knees, which now jut from legs that have lost the plump and easy muscles of youth, is pitted with pinprick scabs gained from repeated acts of this painful devotion.

His eyes fill with tears and his pink little mouth trembles.
‘Don’t be so soft,’ she grabs the scarf from him, and starts to tie it around her own eyes. ‘We said we would do it, and know what it felt like. For Papa.’

The boy, younger and still covered with unperturbed soft rolls of baby fat, doesn’t understand why she wants to play this game over and over.

Later, they sit at the table in the tiny flat. Their mother holds the picture of her handsome husband grasped against her chest as she cries.

‘My husband, my husband’ she wails. ‘They shot him. Like a dog. Blindfolded and kneeling.’


War Games

‘I know Mama,’ says the girl, pushing her food away.

‘We must never forget, never forget his suffering.’

‘I know Mama,’ says the girl, gripping the silk scarf.