Mosquito Screens

The little body between them weighed almost nothing. As though all the brightness and life that had suffused her minutes before had real weight she was now relieved of. She seemed less real like this, Thomas thought. The blood pumping from her chest slowed, and he wanted to reach and stop it, to keep it inside of her. The bullet pierced Scarlett’s heart, but he was unwilling to let this part of her slip away into the sawdust-covered floor.

The realization that their daughter was dead struck him like a physical blow. He was winded, unable to draw breath. Doubling over so his forehead rested against Rashad’s chest, he gasped, and with each gasp he shuddered, and with each shudder Scarlett’s body trembled in harmony. Rashad let out a low sound, a keening that rose in pitch and volume until he was wailing. He wrapped fingers into Thomas’ hair and pressed him to his chest, and Thomas felt his scalp grown damp from the tears that poured down.

The tires retreated as swiftly as they advanced, and there had only been one shot. Perhaps it was meant as a warning, or to instill fear. Or perhaps the gunman had been aiming for Thomas or Rashad though the windows when the truck lurched in one of the ruts that dotted the ground around their dwelling. Either way, the bullet punched through the front door and the insect screen and found its resting place in a heart still owed a million beats.

They had neither of them seen the truck, nor the Tyce brothers, but there was no one else it could be. Thomas’s head and heart had no room for rage yet. The world was still crumbling.

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Finnbar Howell

Finnbar has been shortlisted for the Raymond Carver Contest and the Maeve Binchy Travel Award. His work has been featured in Ephemera magazine and the Galway Review. He holds a degree in Astrophysics and a Masters in Creative Writing. He grew up in Ireland and writes poetry and short stories, usually with a fantasy or science fiction slant. Finnbar advocates Bujinkan Ninjutsu, environmental protection, and the Metric system.

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