Aaron Murphy

A few hours before Aaron Murphy finally escaped the war on the barrel of a Colt 45, a girl, drunk on youthful idealism and vodka, forced her finger, loose and lazy, into his chest. He could feel the point of it under his shirt, above his heart. "Did you mutilate the faceless enemy?" she slurred, and he laughed uneasily, because there was nothing to say to a girl for whom war was abstract—background noise for a make-out session.

His enemy had never been faceless. His enemy wore the face of an eight year-old boy, all scabby knees and elbows, who waved his father's bejeweled AK-47 while shouting his father's rhetoric. His only unofficial enemy kill.

The shot that pierced the boy's skull also rang in Aaron's ears. The world turned inside out and he was emptied, as he watched the wailing mother cradle her boy's body and gently reunite pieces of bone decorated with red and pink sludge with his ruined skull with her own loose fingers.