what we dream of for tomorrow
Michelle Zhu | Art by Kristin Zhao
All she could taste was the salt in the air.
She laid in the middle of a street, chunks of the sidewalk laying beside her. The rough rubble had punctured cuts and bruises into her body, while smoke danced through her lungs and blocked her airways. She tried to move her muscles, but they didn’t budge.
The hot sun beats down on her tan skin and disheveled clothes. A bead of sweat drips down on her forehead; down her back; down her spine. A faint buzz rings in her ears, screams from far away sound muted and flat.
She blinks for a second, but the next time her eyes open, Orion is already drawing his bow. Crickets sing through the night, and the broken road feels more and more like a mattress. She twitches her hand; her wrist; her arm. She sits up.
She hears ancient hymnals from far away. She makes out the voices of Ares’s muses. They hum a song praising the war god.
Black spots fade in and out of her peripherals, adjusting her eyes to the darkness of the night. This isn’t downtown anymore.
She’s in the middle of somewhere—the fragmented pieces of old buildings resembling contemporary art rather than structure. Neon lights of the department store flicker, and the street lamps are completely out of commission.
She places her hands on the ground and pushes down, hoisting the lower half of her body off the ground and onto two feet. Small rocks dig themselves into her palms, and she brushes them off on her legs.
At night, she feels the gaze of others around her. Their soft groans and shuffling indicate the same wounds she suffers from. The roadside community relives the siege.
Ares’s song still plays.