The Cost of War

Several village women were keening hysterically with varying degrees of sincerity. Squatted about the corpse, they were friends and family members of the little girl. She had been killed by a mortar.

Two young marines walked over to have a look.

“It’s always like this,” one of them said.

“What?”

“All this keening. It’s what they do.” He slung his rifle over his shoulder and walked away.

The other marine stood for a moment before following his companion. Nearby, automatic rifle fire could be heard. Several grenades exploded.

“They’re clearing the village on the other side of that tree line,” someone said.

No one noticed the young Vietnamese sitting apart from the keening women. She could not have been twenty. Her face was expressionless, and she made no sound. She was the mother of the child.

The sun was hot. It was a very hot morning.

Copyright 2013 George Lowell Tollefson

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