Psychopomp Magazine Spring 2016 - Page 23

the beginnings of the train graveyard that marks the outskirts of our town. There, countless trains lie rusting in that graveyard at the edge of our town, each coated in a heavy layer of coal dust, like a tangible ghost of everything they once carried

& our company is en route to the base Khe Sanh. We have no idea how bad the fighting is on the ground, and we haven't been given any instruction. We sit in silence on the floor of the plane, the engines roaring below us, nobody daring to break the silence. I figure once we touch down, I'll just find the nearest casualty and help out there, but I'm not even sure how we're supposed to touch down. We hear over the radio that Khe Sanh is under such heavy fire that we won't be able to land. We're going to just have to "bail out" as the plane slows down a bit over the trenches, whatever the hell "bailing out" means at the speed we're going. Next to me, Rudy grips the straps of his pack so tightly all the color has drained from his knuckles

& candlelight casts shadows of escape routes over the map spread out on the floor. I see my brother's face in the spirals of breath rising and hovering from our mouths.

Are you sure we shouldn't stay? says Julie. With the way things have been going, they could be coming home soon.

Our breath hangs so heavy in our treehouse that afternoon that we can hardly see our own hands, and in seeing nothing, I convince myself that I have the power to raise the dead

& suspended above the fighting, time travels about as quickly as we do.

Kelly Kiehl | 23