At my last writing group meeting (on 10/13/12), we did a quick writing exercise snippet where everyone used the same first line and wrote for five minutes. Mine’s been haunting me ever since then. I decided to put it up here because I don’t know what else to do with it.

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My mother was doing that thing she did. The thing with the rag in the sink.

Soaking it in water and squeezing it dry again as though she were wringing the blood from some unfortunate small animal. Her glazed eyes stared out the window at the backyard,staring at something that she wished only she could see. Instead it was plain to everyone, the shallow grave in which she’d frantically buried my father after he drank himself to death two nights past. Once, someone might have cared where a person was buried, but not anymore. Not since the war. Now people were buried wherever was convenient.

The grave was far enough away from the well that it wouldn’t contaminate our water, though with the fighting growing closer every day, it was uncertain how much longer we could stay at home anyway. Maybe it wouldn’t matter.

She was so angry with him for abandoning us, but I understood. He’d been hurt on the job and disabled for years. If the fighting had come to us and we had to run, he would only have slowed us down. Even if she was angry, I was grateful.

Grateful that we could run.