Girl comes out of a compound with an AK and looks at me

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Girl comes out of a compound with an AK and looks at me

Bartholomew Klick

Massive, striking eyes. Gaunt. Tiny. Her body wasn’t made to hold a gun.

She’s staring at me, or my uniform maybe, and her look screams rage and hunger.

We’re aimed at each other. I should have already fired, and really, so should she.

But she’s 12, tops, and some natural thing inside her stopped her shooting at me.

In 14 months, I’ve learned her people’s tongue. She said,

“Have you seen my mother?”

“No.” I answer.

A single heartbeat of time and then

We both shoot.

Or, God, did I shoot first?

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