Shellshocked

I keep running.  After being “dismissed” from the Ukrainian ground forces, I returned to Odessa, my old hometown.  I served with honor, they called it “recklessness.”  The war is over now.  Mostly.

I keep running.  Beneath the oppressive grey clouds, along the corrugated metal fence, ducking under limbs of long dead trees, tripping over uneven paving stones.  This used to be a good neighborhood.  Mostly.

I keep running.  The air burning my throat as I breathe in the noxious fumes.  Early morning stillness broken only by the clattering of last night’s beer cans in the gutter.  A car backfires down an alley.  Again.  I’m sure it was a car.  Mostly.

I stop running.  I’m ex-military, of course that was a handgun firing.  The diffused sunlight hasn’t reached the alley yet.  I hear footsteps approaching from the darkness as another can rolls down the sidewalk.  I’m not afraid.  Mostly.

I start running.  Once his blood spattered face came into view I knew he’d shoot.  I risk a quick glance over my shoulder while fleeing.  He didn’t chase me.  Didn’t need to I guess.  I haven’t seen dead eyes like that since Romania.  I don’t think about the war anymore.  Mostly.

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