Image: Shattered porcelain on dirty, red cement

Fragment | By Christopher Hines

He didn’t know who he was. Had he once been a noble man? The lack of wealth and luxury told him that he was not noble in title, but perhaps in deed he had been.

“It’s time,” a woman spoke, my attention pulled away.

“For what?” I asked, confused. This woman seemed familiar to me, but over time all the faces blurred into an amalgamation. It was familiar, but I felt nothing.

“Honestly John, you’re too much. You were supposed to pick the kids up.” She sighed, and I nodded my acknowledgment.

“Alright, Angelica, calm down. I’m going, I’m going.”

The keys sat upon my wallet on the kitchen island. I’d always hated the thing, but Angelica had insisted on the house with the island. It just got in the way though. John was my name, and Angelica was my life. We had children, too, but I was still no closer to knowing who I really was.

You grip the steering wheel with both hands, the power of the machine almost too much to believe. In these moments you are outside of yourself because it makes it easier to think of yourself as someone else. You did everything you thought was right, that was required to be a good man. You married, had a kid, served your country. Three tours. You were proud of it, except when you weren’t. A house, two point five children, a wife. The American dream. Eyes scanning and darting along the road, looking for hidden bombs that will never explode. Each time he killed, a part of him died as well.

In quiet moments doubt filled his mind, doubt that he dared not give voice to lest it drown all else out. The faces of the innocent, the weight of the trigger, the feel of the weapon in his hands as it kicked back against him each time, the sounds of the shots: they were all part of you now, disjointed and connected all at once. Simultaneously they were nothing, and everything, and the faces, oh god, you remembered the faces. Three tours. The faces. It hollowed you out, and who you once were had been replaced. You were as much dead as the ones you had killed.

He pulled in to the parking lot and smiled at the young faces, too much like the faces he had killed.

“Come on, kids!” I call.


Christopher Hines is currently pursuing his MFA in Creative Writing by night and programming by day. As an author, he is interested in the genres of Science Fiction and Fantasy, and is currently delving into Digital Humanities as a programmer. Introduced to computers at a young age, Christopher grew up almost parallel with the development of the modern internet and was born the same year as the WorldWideWeb. Christopher has experienced traditional hand-coded HTML website development as well as modernized content management systems, of which he prefers the latter.


Featured Image: “Bone Fragments” by Michael Coghlan is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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