Albania, 1985 by Heather Bourbeau

Editor Matty Byloos, Fiction, June 14th, 2017

"...she would be sentencing herself or him to death..."

Heather Bourbeau Fiction Nailed Magazine
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Fiction by Heather Bourbeau.

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She held her rifle close to her chest, feeling the cold metal on her sweat. She had trained for this moment, she knew it might come, but still she could not raise the gun to her shoulder, she could not catch sight of the traitor in her glass, she could not aim at the only person who had taught her how to dream and dance and laugh. She knew her comrade would soon catch sight of him. She knew if she yelled a warning to either her brother or her comrade, she would be sentencing herself or him to death. She knew it was her duty to defend her country from the enemy from outside and the enemy from within. And she knew, with each step he took across the rocky border, he was this enemy.

Her mind flashed back ten years to a thin trail of ants in their parents’ kitchen, leading from the front door to the emaciated breadbox. She remembered how easily her brother had bent down and rolled the ants between his fingers one-by-one to ensure their death and protect the meager food in the house. Even then, he laughed quietly and said, “We are not much better, Ardita,” looking at her with a sadness she did not yet understand. Now, with Yugoslavia before her, she felt her breath quicken, her fingers rap the safety, her mind calculate her options. She hoped to feign sun blindness, she hoped she could wake from this nightmare, she hoped for the first time that she could join him in this journey desperate, hopeful, and final.

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Heather Bourbeau Fiction Nailed MagazineHeather Bourbeau wrote the poetry collection Daily Palm Castings, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and worked for the UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia and UNICEF Somalia. She appreciates brevity.

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Matty Byloos

Matty Byloos is Co-Publisher and a Contributing Editor for NAILED. He was born 7 days after his older twin brother, Kevin Byloos. He is the author of 2 books, including the novel in stories, ROPE ('14 SDP), and the collection of short stories, Don't Smell the Floss ('09 Write Bloody Books).