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?

You Are Replaceable

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You are replaceable
Bartholomew Klick

You are replaceable.

The skill you mastered over twenty years isn’t complicated. You’ve made mistakes. The new management doesn’t know you, and frankly, thinks you’re overpaid.

You are replaceable. There’s a line forming behind you to take your desk. More eager, more energetic, smarter people are licking their lips and measuring your space.

You love Dr. Who, just like everyone else, and you play a game with a Chinese name that the office only knows because you go on and on about it. And about that girl you like.

You are replaceable, but the sight of you makes cold days warmer and hot days just a touch more bearable.

You are replaceable.

But it wouldn’t be the same.