Boy With Grenades

Contributor: Stephen V. Ramey

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A boy stood in dappled sunlight, blocking my way. He was bone thin, all arms and legs. His expression reminded me of a clown's face. Not the garish white makeup and oversized nose, but the way his lips curled into a goofy smile even as his gaze violated me.
"What do you want?" I said. I had some change in my purse, but he should at least have to ask before I offered it up.
He laughed a child's laugh, unpracticed, full of noise. He raised one hand. In his fist was clutched a hand grenade, oblong and dimpled, grayish green in color.
"Where is your mother?" I said.
"Here," he said.
"Dead," he admitted.
"Your father, then." What a crass woman I must seem, not to offer sympathy for a dead mother.
"Hell," the boy said. He lowered the first hand and raised the other. It, too, held a grenade. The pin dangled like an earring.
"Is that a toy?" I said. "Who's watching you?"
That laugh again. Burst after burst of caustic sound. It set my nerves on edge, stirred something dark in my gut. Nauseated, I clutched my stomach and crouched down. Beyond the boy, a couple held hands on a park bench. Were they his parents? They seemed too young.
"So?" he said. He stood over me now, a scarecrow silhouette. I swallowed the sourness from my mouth.
"So?" I managed. I felt an impulse to cradle him, to feel that mouth pulling at my nipple. I leaned onto my knees.
A grenade fell past my face.
The explosion threw me back, light and sound and emotion all at once. Hair pulled from my scalp, skin from bone. I felt the structure of my skeleton cave in.
Pain radiated from my uterus, shot to my ankles and elbows, my tender breasts. Another contraction. Contraction, convulsion, burst after burst.
The bastard who raped me flashed bright, that pocked face, the pug nose and squinting eyes. Drunk, disoriented, I felt him thrust into me, once, twice, again, again. Where was the pleasure it was supposed to bring? Where was the connection I craved?
Another digging cramp. Sobs stretched my throat. A dented oval gushed out of me, red tissue, a spreading clot. Was that a face?
The boy was gone. Shifting patterns of light lapped at my shadow. A wave broke over my upturned face, coated my tongue with honey. I breathed in and out.
The dark thing inside me was gone.
Smoothing my dress, I stood. As I walked past the couple, I felt my halo emerge.

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Stephen V. Ramey lives in beautiful New Castle, Pennsylvania where it is always sunny and warm and kittens do not suffer. His work has appeared in various places, and he edits the annual Triangulation anthology from Parsec Ink.
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