256 Words

Firing Squad

M. Stanley Bubien

The warden approached with the blindfold. Would anyone see the sweat breaking off my brow? Sure, everyone was sweating in this heat, but I was different. I would be sweating even if the day were chill.

Would the blindfold be wet too?

You're here for a reason, I reminded myself. I had chosen this course in life. I could blame no one but myself. My wife warned me. She knew I was acting in anger---she told me so. If only I'd stopped to listen.

Your actions have consequences. You're here for a reason.... The words were empty.

As the warden stepped away, my senses heightened. I heard the men around me. This time, I listened. Some sniffed, some shuffled, some mumbled. They all breathed: life in, life out.

Soon, there would be one less breath.

"Ready!" the warden called. Guns swept upward.

"Aim!" Bolts clacked back and forth.

He paused, freezing the moment---one I would remember for all my life, for all eternity. Everything stopped: the breathing, the shuffling, the mumbling. No motion. No sound. Nothing.

If only this moment would stay frozen forever.

"Fire!" My finger jerked. The moment was broken with our rifles cracking in unison.

Blood flowed. Body slumped. I lowered my gun.

We made our way from the yard. The lucky few. Each had volunteered---filled with righteous anger, eager to enact the state's judgement. As before, none sniffed or shuffled. None spoke. We walked from the face of death in profound silence.

I wiped the sweat from my brow.

Copyright ©1996 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.

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May, 1996
Issue #2

256 Words