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Two children were playing just beyond the trees, their carefree laughter ringing through the summer air. From his post above the border fence, the guard watched with nostalgic envy. In the glow of the sunbathed countryside it was hard to imagine such overwhelming concern hovered overhead. Then one of the children began to run his way.
Instinctively he picked up his rifle as the figure neared the invisible line. When he raised the weapon and looked through the scope, all he saw behind the crosshairs was a target. Unaware, the kids kept chasing one another across the vibrant grass, shouting joyfully to the sky.
The first child's foot passed over a political demarcation existing only on paper and a shot rang out. A mechanical reaction brought the guard's hand up to cycle the bolt without thought as he zeroed in on the other figure several meters back.
Frozen in shock, the second child looked from the still body to the ominous tower and its terrible specter. After a long moment between tense diligence and stunned horror, the youth turned to run. The guard was no longer looking at a target, but a tragic and brutal shattering of innocence.
He put the rifle back down and began filling columns in a weathered log book. Initialing his entry, he picked a phone off the wall and gave a scripted report of short, broken statements. The equally emotionless voice on the far end acknowledged over the scratch of paper and he hung up.
Amid the renewed silence, the guard gazed across the countryside of lush trees beneath a clear sky whose sun warmed the long grass swaying in the breeze. Then he loaded a round into the rifle and picked up the spent casing. No longer warm to the touch, he placed it in his pocket.
What a world we create for ourselves.
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Submitted on
June 22
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