This is not an insider tell-you-anything.
This is not the beginning or the end or the first or the last word.
The heat was unrelenting. Here came the bagpipes. The procession. The tolling of the bell. The stopping of the clock. Dear diary: I was there. Dear diary: I knew someone once. Dear diary: I was that person. Dear diary: they were taken. Dear diary: here is a stone.
(Are you still listening?)
Another year. After so many. Before decades of others.
Here comes a birthday. We have stopped counting candles on the cake.
Somewhere, the AC unit leaks into the plaster.
Somewhere, an invoice has gone missing.
Somewhere, a car pulls to the side of a vanishing dirt road.
Can you watch, can you keep your eyes open? A man you do not see is sweating bullets, as the saying goes. The woman—his woman, he’d say—isn’t sweating. She has been stopped from waiting. There is so much blood. There is no more insomnia.
Afterwards, she will lie in her own bed, unattended, through the night and into the next day. So will her mother-in-law.
While we slept, while we didn’t know what would hit them.
Until after the deadly spectacle finished (until we thought it was finished). Until somebody asked, Wait, wait: Where are the women?
Where is my beautiful girl? My sister? My daughter?
Where is my mother?
The police have already come and gone, or haven’t come and won’t.
Let this cup, let this kiss, pass. This is not a garden. This is not a love song.
The witnesses did or did not scatter.