Flash fiction: A birthday of sorts

Author’s note: In preparation for NaNoWriMo 2009, someone put up daily prompts on one of the forums. I did them in the spirit of warm-ups, but some of them turned into stories. Here is one such.

Prompt: It was a birthday of sorts, but certainly not what was expected.

Tra-la. Red flags and black flapped in the wind.

Ha-ha.  Bright blue sky, and shouts, and the occasional celebratory gunfire.  Fireworks in broad daylight, and once in a while a snatch of song.  The Internationale, I thought, the ecumenical hymn of the first church of It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way.

An open-air festival of rebellion, and I was waiting for the tanks to show up, the horses—I mean the cavalry, sabers drawn and ranks closed, knee to knee, to charge down the uppity pedestrian rabble.  October sky overhead, shreds of cloud like fleece blown across the blue fields.

Not my scene, no, and we’re all going to die under some sky, mediated perhaps by roof or hospital ceiling or maybe treetops, but I wasn’t ready to die today.  Although as the warriors of this part of the world would have said once, “Today is a good day to die.”  The same who heard the voices of the spirit world in thunderstorms, in a landscape I recognize better than I do the arid grey slabs of Sinai.

It’s an uneasy feast in a land not ours, and the confusion of the calendar made me forget if this really were the same day, as we gathered in the plaza with its ruled lines and its landscaped mounds, like an exercise in perspective.  What day was this?  It was a birthday of sorts, but certainly not what was expected.  The wheel turns, and today, in another land of birch trees and blue water, under another October sky, the revolution was taking shape as the National Guardsmen swapped smokes with the tattered anarchists, and the mothers held the hands of their children, faces sponge-washed this very morning in the homeless shelters that ring downtown.

You could feel it moving under our feet, history’s slow subsonic grind, for all this is allegedly not a seismically active region.

(Process information: 10/17/2009 1:18Pm to 1:26 PM, 314 words, made up as I went along, some quick fixes to tense)


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