The rubble has finally cooled over the last two days. I sit by my window, binoculars hanging from my neck, the TV blaring the local news' account of the bombing because turning it off would mean that I was really alone.
And here comes that truck again, circling around the blast site, yellow light revolving its hollow message of order. The rescue worker is back on his feet, gripping a shovel this time.
A church. On a Sunday.
I'd like to say that I didn't know these people. Strangers. An untouchable tragedy, but I'd been watching them for years. The toddler with the limp, the mother that held her Bible above her head before entering through the doors, the preacher who mopped his forehead after shaking his parishioners' hands. Those angelic girls with their tight curls, smiles too big to fake. The boys who couldn't quite get their shirts tucked in correctly. The fathers with the outdated ties and slicked-back hair, shaking hands and yawning, ready for football or a nap.
I'm the last witness. And I'm not sure who to tell.
The walk to the truck is farther than I thought, mistaken by the power of the binoculars. Sight and understanding are two opposite sides of a coin. But it's too late to turn back. The yellow revolutions are guiding me in.
The rescue worker startles at my touch on his elbow.
"You won't give up?" I say.
He shakes his head, twisting the shovel, tenderly removing the debris.
I know these people, I want to say, but it feels like a lie, so I kneel in the dirt and dust, the chips of brick and drywall.
I dunk my hands in the fount of destruction, and I pray.
About the Author: Tommy Dean is the author of a flash fiction chapbook entitled Special Like the People on TV from Redbird Chapbooks. A graduate of the Queens University of Charlotte MFA program, he has been previously published in the Watershed Review, Spartan, Literary Orphans, JMWW, Split Lip Magazine, and New World Writing. Find him @TommyDeanWriter on Twitter.