Slaughtering the Scapegoats

by S. Douglas Larsen © 2001

The street is full of flames. Mother screams and smoke fills my eyes. They hurt so I rub them. When I lower my hands I see him coming on his great black horse.

Mother pulls me through a flaming door and we heap ourselves against the hot wall, hoping to be passed. They've already dragged father, screaming, to the graveyard. They said they'd pay what they owed him.

I miss father. He held me as our house fell. When I asked him why they burned my toys, he told me that wealth no longer has the protective value it was formerly believed to have. I don't understand.

I feel like a hot loaf of bread in the oven and pull at mother, but she is still. Blood trickles from the corner of her mouth as she silently looks at me. The smoke doesn't bother her eyes like mine. She doesn't blink.

He grabs me up by the back of my collar and tears me away from mother. I cry out. I wish I were in my special place, but it's gone. Father is gone. Mother has stayed behind. I'm alone.

The metal glove hurts my arm as he piles me onto the creaking cart being pushed past. At least now I'm not alone. I push and shove the others to see if I know anyone. They're all still.

I look up at the star carved over the graveyard gate. Perhaps I'll find father here.

x x x

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