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Live Again

He shuffled his feet, the heels of a worn pair of Brogans scattering tiny pebbles of asphalt toward the curb where they lay amongst the remains of a half-dozen cigarettes; a crushed beer can, the tab pointed outward; a woman’s earring, pearlescent, out-of-place; and a used condom. He’d known such pleasures once, young, ripe flesh eager for his touch, and him, thinking of nothing but the hum in his head, the sting in his loins. Of soft, warm, moist places, hidden by lacy underthings and how very sweet they’d be on the tip of his tongue.

That was long ago, eons it felt like. Before the war. Before years of smoke and blood, of the entrails of good men spilled out on abandoned ground. Before starvation, his stomach consuming itself. Before the accusing faces of family members who’d thought he could live again, smile again, pretend that all those vacant eyes weren’t continually staring upward, pupils glazed, mouths agape, empty, vacuous lungs bereft of the very oxygen that forced him to s…

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