Thursday, September 30, 2010




After much trial and error, I was able to pick the lock with my make-shift wire key. With tremendous relief, I opened the door and looking cautiously right and left, I stepped out into a corridor that was lit intermittently by naked light bulbs. Closing the door noiselessly behind me, I stood still. I listened intently for some seconds. Nothing. Quickly and silently, I proceeded down the passage which stretched ahead of me. I picked up my pace. Then I was running, running, ahead of me lay a flight of stairs.

Should I go up or down? I skidded to a stop undecided. “Down! Down! Go Down!” I said urgently, quietly. My footsteps echoed off the walls of the stairwell as I sped fleet of foot. I was so scared, I couldn’t think straight, I could only move, and this I did as fast as I could.

Of course my inability to think could have had something to do with the fact that my body was flooded with a good deal of adrenalin. I was fully in flight or fight mode, and since there was no one to fight, I had to flee. My breathing was becoming labored and sweat poured off me, it got in my eyes stinging me. I got a stitch in my side. I wanted to slow down. But I couldn’t …I dare not. I almost pitched forward and grabbed onto the rail for dear life. This stopped me in my tracks. Dear God! Help me please!

My hands held the banister so tightly, my fingers seemed hooked into claws of iron, and I wondered how I would ever pry them loose. Compelled by necessity to stop in this manner, I bent double, panting heavily. I wanted to sit down and take a rest, but my legs wouldn’t bend. They shook so powerfully from the forced activity and the mega amounts of adrenalin still coursing through my body; I just leaned against the wall trembling and breathing hard.

Then I heard footsteps running in my direction. Taking one last deep breath, I was off again. I jumped over the last three steps at the foot of the stairs and dashed into a room whose door stood slightly ajar.


I had not been crawling in the vent for very long, when I saw a light up ahead. The light was coming from the room below. I slowly and carefully crept to the slits in the vent cover and looked down into the room. Bliss was not there. But she had been, I could smell her cologne. Had they moved her, or had she escaped like I had.

I was happy that our captors didn’t seem to have a very good handle on keeping us captive. I moved on, and kept going. I hoped and prayed that Bliss and I would hook-up soon. Then I heard running, but the sound was not smooth … more like someone moving quickly on steps. Throwing caution to the winds, I hastily wriggled to the next vent opening and looked down into that space.

Bliss was propelled into the room as if shoved by half a dozen hands.

“Thank you Jesus! I found her! I found her! My relief was so great I almost shouted her name, but mindful of our precarious situation, I whispered, “Bliss, Bliss, up here!”

She stood uncertainly for seconds rocking slightly, as if the momentum of her entrance was not yet quite over. Her eyes were wide with fright, her breathing heavy as she looked around wildly. But she didn’t look up. I assumed she hadn’t heard me. What was she looking for? I decided not to speak again, because I suddenly realized she was looking around for something with which to defend herself... from someone or something I had not yet seen.

I guess she was successful in her quest. Because, just as I heard what she was running from, she picked up an umbrella from off the floor and standing behind the door, held it at the ready. I almost laughed out loud. What was she going to do with it, shield her attacker to death, or hypnotize him with the colors?

If the umbrella had been a big, black, hefty number, at least it would have looked as if it could do some damage. Instead, it was dainty, and yellow with white stripes. I would have giggled, if our situation wasn’t so dire.

Bliss stepped further back into her hiding space and stumbled. We both looked to see the cause of her misstep. It was an old hurricane lamp. I smiled. The sight of it immediately brought back some of my most treasured childhood memories. My grandmother had one of these lamps in her house. She would light it, and put in the window sometimes. It always gave off a wonderfully welcome glow. It always made me feel warm and protected.

I shook myself mentally, wondering why I had been transported to such a visceral recollection. Then I understood, the night’s events had so traumatized me, I was using the excuse of the lamp to go to a safe, cozy place, far away from my present circumstance, even if it was just for a little while. I resolved to let go of this image and concentrate on the here and now. Instead of continuing to fuss with getting the vent cover off, I decided to kick it off.

A tall skinny guy burst through the door panting. “You honeys just make it harder on yourselves –”


He didn’t get any further with his statement. Bliss stabbed at him with the umbrella, which opened with a whooshing sound. I kicked the cover off the air-conditioning vent at that precise moment. “Oh hell no!” I yelled.

For one split second his attention was divided. I jumped down from the ceiling, rolled, and was up on my feet. I kicked him hard in the knee. I heard a sound like a tree branch snapping. He collapsed howling. His glasses sailed across the room, and the gun he was holding went flying from his hand.

“Where did you come from? I’m so, so very glad to see you. Are you all right?”

“It’s a long story, tell you later. I’m fine, especially now that I’ve found you. I prayed that you would be all right.”

“I prayed for you too.”

“What are we going to do with him?”

“I know what to do with him.”

He lay on the ground, moaning loudly. I looked at him seething; nostrils flaring. I was consumed by such rage, for long seconds, I did not trust myself to speak or to act.

Calming myself, I knelt beside him and poked him in the chest to get his attention. He looked at me, his green eyes moving around rapidly in their sockets. They reminded me of some game that a child would play with. I wondered what was up with those eyes. I’d never seen eyes move like that before.

“If you don’t shut up, I’ll break the other leg and then I’ll start on your arms. He shut his eyes tight and whimpered.
Bliss had closed the umbrella and was methodically securing it in that position. I wondered why she was going to all that trouble.

“What are you doing? Leave that! Go get the gun!”

She ignored me, and having completed her task, she started beating him with her weapon of choice.

Though taken aback, I quickly jumped out of her way, not wanting to distract her from her ministrations. I also did not want any misdirected blows to land on me. After all, I had done nothing wrong, and I wanted him to get every bit of his deserved punishment.

Bliss ranted as she beat him. She punctuated her adjective based tirade with vigorous blows from the umbrella. It had my sympathy, she was working it hard.

“You are a degenerate! (whack, whack).

“Evil! (whack, whack).

“Slimy! (whack, whack, whack).

“Rotten! (whack, whack).

“Wicked! (whack, whack).

“Immoral! (whack, whack, whack).

“Perverted! (whack, whack, whack).

“Bucket of excrement!” (whack, whack, whack).

He didn’t try to fight her, just lay on his side turned away from her, covering his head with his arms. His broken leg stuck out at an odd angle. I seriously considered stomping on it, but figured Bliss was doing a good enough job beating the crap out of him.

This beat-down could be seen as the appetizer for tonight. Let Bliss soften him up some. Let him laugh to himself thinking that was all there was going to be from us. My actions would be the entrée. It would be up to him really. If the answers to questions we asked him were not forthcoming, I fully intended to do that stomping on his shattered leg. Beating and stomping, I was optimistic we would continue to have the stomach for this fare.

The guy groaned pathetically as Bliss continued to expend her pent up fear, frustration, and anger on him. At last, exhausted, she stopped and leaned on the umbrella breathing hard. I thought that by now, her dainty little parasol would have been destroyed after being so mistreated. But it showed no sign of breakage; it was sturdier than it looked.

Jack Bauer would have been proud of us; I thought, looking around for something with which to tie up our bruised, battered, and hapless guard.

“Serves you right you know! I’ll bet you never thought you would ever get such a beating at the hands of one of your captives?” If you get out of this alive, make another career choice. I don’t think you are too good at this one.” I said these things to him as I bound his hands with good old duct tape I found in a desk drawer.

“Don’t be cruel. I think you busted his knee. He’s in a whole lot of pain.”

“Cruel? Cruel? Pain? You are the maniac here; you almost killed him with your umbrella.” Bliss turned towards me.

“Stay away from me with that thing; you are one dangerous woman when you are angry.”

“I did get a little crazy there for a bit didn’t I?”

“That you did. But it’s all good. I advised him to change jobs. Perhaps assisted by your actions, he will make the right decision.”

We looked at each other and started to giggle uncontrollably. The giggles very soon turned into full belly laughs. I leaned against the wall holding my midsection. My peripheral vision showed Bliss leaning on the umbrella as if it were a walking stick and cackling heartily. It slid from her grasp and fell to the floor with a dull “thunk”.

We looked at each other and we were off again. I sank to the floor roaring with laughter. Bliss followed suit. We must have laughed on and off like this for at least five minutes. At some point in the midst of my glee, I recognized that we were quite hysterical. I acknowledged this fact and just continued to give in to the laughter. I sincerely hoped that we would recover our faculties before we were found by other guards.

At last, we started to come back to our senses. “Ssshhh! Ssshhh! Not so loud. Someone might hear us.” Bliss was finally able to get out. I crawled to where she sat on the floor still quivering with less audible mirth. I put my arm around her shoulder and we leaned against each other. Soon our subdued merriment turned to quiet sobs.

We sat there and just cried and cried. We cried as if we had lost some treasured possession. We had. We had lost our innocence that night. We now knew intimately that there were evil forces in the world that meant us harm. This was not an abstraction. It was very real. We had seen them. They had names – Sam and Greg, and now this nameless character. We cried because we were still a long way from being safe. We cried because we still didn’t know how we were going to escape from this, our larger prison.

Finally spent, we turned to face each other, and foreheads touching, we seemed to draw strength from the connection. For long moments we remained in this position. Our sobs lessened and then turned to shuddering sighs. Getting determinedly to my feet, I helped Bliss up.

“I guess you better gag him.” Bliss said dispiritedly.

“Not so fast, let’s find out where we are, and how to get out of here, also how many more guards there are around. It’s interrogation time.”

The tables had turned. Now we had a prisoner. He glared at us through angry, pain-filled eyes. I looked back at him tauntingly, ready for a fight.

- copyrighted by Kathi Harris

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

BLISS by Kathi Harris

BLISS by Kathi Harris

My eyelids fluttered open to the sound of raised voices. A door slammed, and then there was silence. I turned my head towards the sound, bumping it painfully against a hard surface. "Owww!" I groaned, rubbing my bruised temple. "Where am I? What time is it? What the hell is going on? Bliss? Bliss? Where are you? OMG!"

I sat up quickly, suddenly remembering what had happened with Bliss and I, and those two guys at the club.

Getting unsteadily to my feet, I surveyed my surroundings. I was in a room with a door, a window, and a desk. It was the desk I had banged my head against. I gently rubbed the still tender spot wincing. Leaning against the desk, I took stock of my situation. Where was Bliss? Had those bastards hurt her? Damn!

I felt fine, so I assumed they hadn't messed with me. My stomach clenched tight as I thought of Bliss lying hurt somewhere, or dead. My hands shook at the thought, and I angrily wiped the tears that came unbidden to my eyes. I didn't have time for weeping. I had to find her. "If they've hurt her, I'll...I'll cut their ball sacks off, that's what I'll do." I immediately felt better having said this.

"Well, my mission is clear, I have to find a way out of this room, find Bliss, and get us both out of here. If those guys try to stop me at any time, I am going to kick some butt." I talked softly to myself as I made these plans and then smiled. I was always teasing Bliss about how often she had conversations with herself. Now here I was doing the very same thing. But I was comforted by this action. It made me feel closer to Bliss, I didn't feel so desperately alone.

I looked at the door. The moonlight shining through the window showed me clearly that it had no handle, neither did it have a knob. I walked over to it anyway. My closer scrutiny showed that there was also no peephole.

Though I did not expect the door to open, I pushed at it repeatedly, and hit it with my open palm. It made a dull, thudding sound. My expectations were realized, the door remained immovable. It was an unmarked, unyielding, well-built seal for my cage. I had no intention of it becoming my tomb however. It stood to reason that my jailers were going to come back for me. But there were no guarantees, and I did not really intend to hang around to find out. So, how to get out, that was the question.

I walked back to the desk and sat on its corner, chewing on my lower lip as I tried to figure a way out of my dilemma. I felt some cold air and heard the sound of a fan. Looking up I noticed what seemed to be the possible opening to an air conditioning vent. "Nice!" I thought aloud. "Now, if I were Jack Bauer, I would get up into that vent, move about this building, find Bliss, beat up the bad guys, and get out of this place all in one hour." But since I was not Jack, I very much doubted that all I hoped to accomplish would be achieved. If I could just find Bliss and we could get away, I would be ecstatic. Therefore, for now at least, that would be my mission, those were more realistic goals anyway. Alas, my satisfaction in seeing the bad guys being beaten up would have to wait until I saw reruns of the series 24 on TV; or until the movie finally came to the big screen. I would definitely have to leave the administering of punishment to evil, wicked people who thought nothing of kidnapping beautiful, young women to my hero Jack Bauer.

Thoroughly motivated by this plan, I slowly, and as quietly as I could, dragged the desk directly under the vent. Sitting on the desk, I swung my legs up. I knelt, then stood upon it. Easily reaching the cover of the vent, I took it off. But my sweaty, nerveless fingers betrayed me, and the beastly thing slipped from my hands clattering loudly to the floor. I froze. Had they heard me? I wasn't going to wait around to find out. Boosting myself up into the narrow passageway I had just revealed, I started crawling. I thought about my rescue plan as I moved.

I was glad Bliss had worn the cologne I had given her for her birthday. It was called ACQUA di PARMA, and at one hundred and twenty dollars for a 3.4 ounce bottle, it had strained my budget some. But I liked the scent and had bought it for myself last Christmas. The fragrance was quite distinctive, and I hoped I would be able to sniff Bliss out if our abductors had her in a dark room where I could not pick her out quickly.

It was fortunate that both Bliss and I had worn jeans and flat shoes to the club earlier. Now the jeans would protect my legs as I moved on all fours and then on my belly. I also would not have to worry about my high heels getting snagged on something as I made my escape. I pushed forward eagerly, determinedly, hoping that I would be able to put some distance between myself and this room before my captors discovered I was gone.

- copyrighted by Kathi Harris

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

TIME by Kathi Harris

TIME by Kathi Harris - Sept 17, 2010

When I woke up again, it was night but not dark. Moonlight streamed through the window, its pale yellow light welcomed me. It replaced the sun's orange radiance that had bid me farewell as I drifted off to sleep again. The moonlight had none of the sun's warmth. I was cold. Shivering, I hugged myself. I was suddenly very thirsty, my throat felt parched. Licking my dry lips, I tried to swallow. But I could not generate enough saliva to help me even in this small endeavor. I needed some water badly.

How much time had I lost, a day, some hours? I couldn't dwell on that now. What was most important at this time, in this place, was the fact that I was still alive. I felt okay. The horrendous headache was gone, as was the nausea. I was clear-headed and strong enough now to find a way out for Jill and I.

As I readied myself to sit up, I studied the window, and then the wall in which the window was set. My eyes took in the cracks and peeling paint on the wall. I hoped that the panes of glass in the window would be easy to break. I prayed that this room was no higher than the second or third floor, giving easy access to the ground.

I turned my head, and the movement not only caused me to scratch my cheek painfully on the prickly carpeting, but released a smell to my too close nostrils that made me retch. "Euwww!" I groaned in disgust, slowly pushing myself up to a sitting position. I leaned against the wall. Sitting there for a couple of beats, I waited for the queasiness to set in, but it didn't.

I got to my feet unsteadily, using the wall to aid me in this quest. I still felt all right even from this great height, just a little shaky. If I fell, this foul smelling carpet would at least cushion my fall a little bit. I hesitantly started to walk around the room, looking for the door. I kept close to the wall, my shoulder bumping it constantly, gratefully. The wall was the much needed friend I could lean on. I had found a new buddy. My shoulder found the door before I saw it. I stopped in my tracks.

Saying a prayer, I turned the knob as noiselessly as I could. I pushed the door then pulled it. I tried again, and again, and again. It was all for naught, the door didn't budge. I slid down the wall and sat on the floor, so disappointed, I burst into tears. After awhile, my sobbing lost its intensity and tapered off to shuddering breaths, and then I was quiet. I reasoned with myself, speaking almost inaudibly so as not to alert my kidnappers of my newly awakened status.

"You didn't really expect the door to be open did you? You hoped they would have made that mistake, you prayed they would have, but you didn't expect it. So calm down! Just calm yourself down! Remember there's always the window if all else fails. What's your plan now, where do you go from here?"

"I guess I could try to find something to open the door." I said, my speech hitching between shuddering breaths.

"There you have it then, that's a good plan! That's an excellent plan!"

It didn't seem at all strange that I was having this dialogue with myself. In fact I was glad for the company. I continued excitedly, but quietly."I have seen it done in the movies and on TV a bunch of times. How difficult could it be? They use a credit card to open one type of lock, for others, it's a straightened out paper clip or a hair pin."

Pumped up by this plan, I started another circuit of the room. Because my prison was empty, I figured that my search would not take long. after all, I would not have to look under, or on top of furniture. I moved away from the wall and started walking two steps to the right, then two steps to the left. I dragged my feet on the carpet as I walked, looking at the floor as closely as I could with the help of the moonlight. I was hoping to kick something that I could use to try to open that door. I didn't think I would be finding any credit cards on this floor. My bet was on a nice shiny paper clip or something of that ilk.

I had almost walked the length of the room when I stepped on something that made me pause. By the light of the moon I could see it was some kind of wire. I bent for a closer look, and saw to my delight that it was a wire hanger. Picking it up with shaking hands, I walked with shakier legs the few steps to my friend the wall. Again sliding down this sturdy buttress until I was sitting, I leaned my back comfortably, companionably, against it. And for a minute or two, I just sat there, breathing deeply, letting the tears of relief escape from my eyes and wet my cheeks, and allowing the moonlight to bathe my face. The means to my salvation - mine and Jill's, the key to our escape was clutched tightly in my hands.

- copyrighted by Kathi Harris

Magpie Tales is sponsored by Willow at Check out her blog every Thursday where a picture prompt is provided for your writing - story, poetry or vignette.


Thursday, September 9, 2010



I just woke up in this room. I was laying on the floor. That was odd. I didn't know where I was. Everything looked unfamiliar. I could see by the light from the window. I was suddenly desperately frightened. I tried to sit up, but strangely, the floor seemed to move as if I was on the deck of a ship in a stormy sea. I felt sick to my stomach. I lay back down. I felt cold. Why was I on the floor? How did I get here? I pondered these questions for a time, my heart beating so fast, it felt as if it wanted to exit my body taking the wall of my chest with it. My was mouth dry, my palms wet, my breathing ragged. I finally gave up trying to answer these questions that plagued me. I had a pounding headache, and the mix of a head that felt as if it was going to explode at any moment and my quest to solve this mystery was not a good combination.

I lay quietly for awhile, taking deep, deep breaths. I felt a little better. And then I remembered, and panic almost overtook me...

I had been at the club with my girl friend, Jill. We'd been having fun until Jill invited these two guys over. At first they were very charming, then they started being jerks. We decided to leave them right there at the table and pretend to go to the ladies room, but we would just go home instead. It was getting late anyway and we both had work tomorrow. We told them we'd be right back, walked away from the table, then right out the door.

The wind was refreshingly cool on my face as the door swung shut behind us. "They were so arrogant, can you believe them?"

"Don't let's waste time even talking about them. Let's grab a cab and get out of here."

"Hey girls, I thought you were going to the ladies room? You're not running out on us, are you?"

"Of course not, Jill felt a little woozy and we just came out here to get some air."

"I think you're lying. What do you think Sam?"

"I think you're right man, these two don't seem to like our company."

Before I could say another word, the guy closest to me - Sam grabbed my arm and then hugging me from behind, whispered softly in my ear, "Act as if we're friends or else Greg is going to break your friend's neck like a chicken's."

I looked at Greg. He was holding Jill tightly, but as if they were lovers. I remembered watching an Oprah show that warned the viewers to never allow themselves to be taken by a would-be-kidnapper from the first site to the second. I opened my mouth to scream. Sam spun me around to face him. He smiled at me. "You think Greg won't hurt her? Make a sound and see what happens."

His smile and his words made me shiver with fear, because his smile looked so normal, and his words were so gentle."Walk with me," he said, turning me around. As I turned, Greg was just putting a white handkerchief back in his pocket. Jill sagged against him. He rested her head on his shoulder and supported her as we moved towards a black SUV.

I can still scream! I need to scream! I need to run! My mind shouted these commands to me. But I was immobilized by my concern for Jill. I couldn't leave her, or jeopardize her. What to do? What to do? My mind was a jumble. Then there was this strange smell and Sam's hand covered by a wet cloth, was clapped over my nose and mouth. He held me tightly to him, and though I struggled, it was not long, neither was the struggle fierce.

And now here I was in this room. But where was Jill?

I raised my head cautiously to look around me. Bright colors of light burst in front of my eyes. The pain in my head took on a new level of intensity. I put my head back down. Was there a door? Was it locked? It stood to reason that it would be. But I had to check to make sure. And where was Jill?

I gazed up at the window. They looked frail, those panes of glass. I wondered if there was something lying around that I could use to break them? That could be the escape route if the door proved not to be an option. The window didn't look very high. I was sure I could reach it without standing on anything.

Sunlight was just beginning to come in through those panes of glass. I rolled into the path it was making on the floor and it warmed me. Was it morning, afternoon, evening? Here was something new to worry about. How long had I been unconscious? Had I been raped? I didn't think so, I felt ok. Where was Jill? I had to get out of here. I sat up slowly, then lay down again. The room had started to move about again. I felt nauseous. I had to take it easy. But I didn't have that luxury. I had to find jill and get out of here.

I closed my eyes for a minute, but then, I realized I was drifting off to sleep. I couldn't fall asleep again, or worse, lose consciousness. My life, Jill's life, might depend on my staying awake. I forced my eyelids open, and opened my eyes wide. The effort this took was phenomenal. I thought slugishly, I have to get up. I have to find Jill. We have to get away from here. Then I wasn't thinking anything. There was only darkness.

- copyrighted by Kathi Harris

Magpie Tales is sponsored by Willow at Check out her blog every Thursday for a picture prompt for your writing - poetry, story, vignette.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010


A HALF EATEN APPLE by Kathi Harris - Sept 7, 2010

I used to love apples, but I don't anymore. They remind me too much of an incident that occurred during my tour of duty in Iraq.

I was two days into my deployment when we went on patrol. We were sweeping for dissidents in a small village of perhaps five hundred people . We met with an ambush.

The fire fight was fierce and an air strike was finally called in. There must have been a miscalculation on the coordinates, or we were just too close to the target. We were right in the line of fire when the bombs dropped. Then everything seemed to happen at once.

I saw blinding sheets of yellow-white light and heard loud booms! Then I felt the searing heat from the exlposions. It seemed as if the entire landscape disappeared in that instant. But no, there were some buildings left and people too. I could see this through the thick curtain of fire and smoke.

People ran out of the buildings - human torches - men, women, children. The smell was overpowering. I didn't think I would ever again be able to eat meat. There were shots behind me and two of the human torches fell to the ground twitching. Then someone yelled, "what the hell you doing, let them burn! Don't help them!"

Then there were screams all around us. Screams from the torch people, screams and curses from our men who had been hurt because of their proximity to the target.

I looked at these dying and wounded men around me, the broken, burned, mutilated bodies. I wondered how these so thoroughly damaged warriors would be integrated back into the society when they got back to the States. I was despondent for the families of the dead, and could imagine the depth of their grief when those knocks came on their doors. War is not pretty I started to realize. War was not at all what I had expected.

We did what we could to save the lives of our men. We applied pressure bandages and tourniquets, we administered morphine. We saved the lives of the ones that we could, and tried to comfort the ones we couldn't if we were able to speak to them before they died. We lost seven of our men in the fighting that day.The medevac helicoptors came and went, taking their eviscerated, burnt, mutilated, ruined cargo with them.

I duck-walked, bent over, dodging intermittent bullets from enemy snipers as I headed towards the buildings that were miraculously still standing. I entered the first building and saw what was left of a group of six people. It was a bloody, gut-wrenching scene.

There was a man, a woman, two small children, perhaps five and six years old and two teens, perhaps thirteen and fourteen years old. The older of these teens was the only one still alive - amazing. He held a half eaten apple in his hand. His hand shook convulsively as I approached and his fingers loosened, releasing the apple which rolled to my feet.

His eyes were huge and followed me as I neared him. The whites of his eyes stood out starkly against his bloodied, blackened face. His breathing was shallow. He looked beseechingly up at me. Help me! That's what his eloquent eyes seemed to say to me. I reached towards him. "let him die!" the private at my elbow spat angrily.

"C'mon man, he's just a kid! " I started to argue. He pushed me roughly. " You don't know that he's not a part of this ambush. This is how they're fighting this war. The enemy, and the people, have the same face, they'll use their children, their mothers, even their grandmothers to get the job done. That way they can inflict the greatest amount of damage on us. So don't you be taken in because he's a kid, they're conniving that way."

I walked away and left him there. I looked back. His eyes followed me, still begging.

We continued our search through that building and the others. But I couldn't shake the image of that face and those eyes. This went on for days, and at nights I had nightmares about him. It was a crisis of conscience really. It was one thing for an air strike to kill civilians. I would shoot to kill someone, if my position or that of my comrades- at-arms were fired upon. But to see a child in such urgent need, and not even try to help, to look him in the eye and just walk away, that brought me up short. That shook the very foundations of my morality, my ethics.

For the rest of my time in Iraq. I continued to be tormented by the fact that I had not tried to save that desperately, hopeless, pleading kid. I wondered who was right, me or the private who had said those words of condemnation. I conceded that perhaps I would never know.

But even now, five years later, I am still haunted by that kid's eyes and the sight of a half eaten apple.

- copyrighted by Kathi Harris

Magpie Tales is sponsored by Willow at Check out her blog every Thursday for a photo prompt for your writing - poetry, story, or vignette.