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.