Killed in Vietnam This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

November 1, 2010
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BETHLEHEM, PA, 1970. We were at the playground. I wore the pink shirt. He wore the purple shirt. I watched him laugh. He watched me smile. We sat on the swings. The swings stopped oscillating. I turned. He kissed me.

The sunlight caught our shadow. We stopped time. My heart stopped. My breath stopped. My memories exploded. My feet stopped. My tears started. My voice stopped. “Why are you crying,” he giggled. “I don’t know,” I said.

SAIGON, VIETNAM, 1972. Black, iron clouds crowd the sky. I hold his letters in my hand. The Ithaca 37 is in the other. The ropes of lightning hang in the sky. My teeth grind. I feel his heart pounding against mine. “Love you,” I say.

HELLERTOWN, PA. 1979. There’s a yellow-blue sky, cotton clouds. The pink-brick house. Rod-iron, sloped porch. Rainbow flag. He walks down the first few steps. His heart stops. His breath starts. His memories explode. His feet stop. His tears start. His voice stops.

I’m at the playground, carrying a lot of weight on my chest. And a few bullet holes.

Fifteen minutes later, he’s at the playground. A bird sings. A car backfires down the hazy street. Winds blow. The orange sun bursts. Pink and purple flowers nod in his hand. There’s laughter. A smile. The swings…The swings oscillate. They stop. Waiting for us.

He puts the pink and purple flowers on my grave. And he cries.

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