Senseless Violence

Christian Aguiar

Official and unofficial regrets flitter around, bemoan the way the bullets went, having never tasted life: handmade pasta pressed just so from its little flour mountain, greens so tender they dissolve in their own juice, a piece of fish fried so perfectly that the edges crack like glass.

Official questions: had the first fist, the one that started it all, ever held another in sunset tenderness, had it felt the surprising prickle of cut grass or known the warmth of a January morning wrapped in cashmere and so-soft wool? Had it only felt the pressure of too-tight cuffs or the claw-grip of an irate mother?

What is known: shouted words bounced off the plate glass, vibrated like tightly-stretched sheepskin so the very air by the bus stop felt uncertain, so the ones who knew ducked inside the corner store or scurried down the block, a chorus of foam flip-flop slaps retreating, becoming buried beneath the traffic noise.

Witness: a flurry of jackets, perhaps a swatch of green or perhaps teal, scuffling colors pressed to get out of the way, pressed to bleed into the background of the faded fresh-produce-here banner, already frayed, nothing distinguishable in the slow-motion memories they will replay all their lives.

Report: life hurries on again, a wound rapidly closing, berbere seasoning from two doors down returns, cigarette smoke, the burnt-oil smell from the exhaust of an old car turning the corner, the lovely hint of fresh plywood covering a broken window, the restless early summer air, people waiting again.

Christian Aguiar is a writer and educator who currently lives in Washington, DC. His short fiction and essays have recently appeared in Hobart Pulp, Pidgeonholes, and Ocean State Review.