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Short Stories

Civil

Orange lights blurred together as we raced through darkness; we felt utterly free on the highway. We felt it, but we weren’t. We were running away, and running never meant freedom. John should turn back. I wanted to tell him. I told him we should tell his mother at least. She deserved to know. Someone did.

But John said “No.”

It came so easily to him, too easily.

He said, “No one is going to remember Henry as a traitor to his country.”

Was he?

There’s no longer one country now.

It might not be an official secession but it’s in the papers. Talks about it. The Feds showing up to government buildings and people’s houses.

John and his brother argued about it for three years. They got into a fight at Jesse’s birthday party and Henry got his nose busted in. Three people had to hold John back. Things got real civil when Henry asked to move in. But as soon as that new militia formed in town, things broke down again.

“Coward,” Henry called John.

“Rather be a coward than a traitor!”

Those were the last words they’d ever say to each other. Were they so mutually exclusive?

Those two fought a lot over the same things: a spot on the football team, the last chicken wing at dinner, what to do with their father’s wishes, my affection. John won, always.

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