I hid in the ditch along the road to Sarajevo. By day, watery grass camouflaged me; by night, I inched my way to you. Belly-crawling, five hungry nights, 100 bomb-pocked miles, I found your body’s fading red shadow at the Markale, alone.
you may ask yourself, well, how did i get here
Wow, Meg! You told a powerful and vivid story in these 42 words. This is one of my favorite gargleblasters – ever!
Awwww, thanks, Karen!! That’s an extra special honor for me. This is partly based on a true story. Fifteen years ago, I lived next to some Croatian refugees. They used to invite me to their family gatherings and frequently told stories about their experiences living in Bosnia during the war. In one story, the family escaped their village under Serbian attacks and made their way to Sarajevo. Somehow, the grandmother was unable to leave at the same time — I believe it was a sudden departure and she wasn’t there to join them. By the time she left to meet up with her family, the Serbs were everywhere. She literally crawled her way to Sarajevo via a ditch at night. During the day, she hid in the ditch. It took her nearly two weeks and she had lost so much weight her family didn’t recognize her. Amazing story.
That’s incredible. Thank you for sharing her story.
Wow. Short piece packs a powerful punch… Congrats on the great post.
Thanks for reading and commenting, Dragon! I’m glad you liked it.
Wow! You’ve captured a powerful story in a powerful way with a mere 42 words! Outstanding, Meg! TiV
Thanks so much, TiV. Means a lot to me. <3
Fantastic! So intense and visceral. That last line is like a punch in the gut. (And I mean that in the nicest way possible.)
Hah! Yeah, a punch in the gut could be misinterpreted. 😉 Thanks so much, Suzanne. I always appreciate your kind comments. I love the word “visceral.”
I wanted to ask how the narrator recognized a loved one from a “fading red shadow”. But I remembered being able to pick out my husband in a crowd simply by the tell-tale bob of his head. It’s amazing how we can instantly recognize someone we love by intimate details we know about them. That made your words so much more heartbreaking.
It’s funny — I wondered myself whether it was too much to assume that the narrator could recognize an outline or shadow of her lover. But I decided I liked the ambiguity of it. And I think I would recognize my husband’s too. (What a dreadful thing to imagine!) Thanks, Nate. Your close reading is always something I look forward to.
Meg. Wow. I love this for so many different reasons. I’ve met a lot of people from Bosnia and Croatia and their stories, like the one you shared, are all so terribly harrowing. You captured so much in this piece, so much emotion, struggle, horror and such vivid imagery. Not one word amiss.
Thank you SO MUCH, Silver. Isn’t it a wonder that we haven’t heard these stories in the media? I remember reading about that couple who walked into the no-man’s land and were shot, but little else. These private narratives that we hear from refugees are harrowing, indeed. The grandmother I wrote about in the comment above is an amazing woman. She didn’t speak a word of English but she got a job at Kroger, bagging groceries, and every day she would wave to me and say, “Hi, Meggie.” I loved that she called me Meggie, my family’s nickname for me. The whole family worked — three generations in a small two-bedroom apartment in Columbus, Ohio. And all happy and generous and loving. I don’t know where they are now but I hope their hard work has paid off.
You gave me shivers. That is such a lovely story – the whole of it. I used to work in refugee policy and there are so many wonderful stories. Once upon a time, when there was more appetite for it, we used to do a whole display with pictures and stories on World Refugee Day. Sadly, there is less interest now – and their stories really should be heard.
Also, imagine how that family would feel to know how much their story touched you. Maybe you’ll run into them one day by chance and you can tell them 🙂
Vivid images. You have my vote. Powerful. Best I’ve read on the grid so far.
Wow. Thanks, CB! I’m very grateful for your reading and commenting.
This was very powerful on the first read, and then to learn that it is partially based on a true story–incredible.
Thanks so much, Marcy. Life is stranger than fiction, right? I have to say I felt so honored by how that family welcomed me into their lives and told me their stories. Wish I remembered all of them but most were told to me during an orthodox Christmas dinner in which lots of alcohol (something very similar to Ouzo–I can’t remember what it is called but it was from the Balkans) was consumed.
So brilliant Meg.
Thank you, Mridubala! I appreciate your reading and kind words.
A powerful piece of writing Meg. So much story in so few words. Excellent.
Thanks for reading and commenting, Mike!
Pow! You hit me with this. Absolutely fantastic! I love the vivid images you painted with such strong emotion.
Thanks, Renada! Glad you liked it. Appreciate your kind comments.
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Hello dear friend and congratulations on your Gargleblaster bomb (tee! hee! See what I did there?)
I read this last week and honestly, felt too unsophisticated to answer (not that you’ve EVER made me feel that way!) I knew the writing was beautiful, the visuals were powerful and that there the MUST be something to this story.
I read this again and coupled with the comments…I see everything now. You have lots of layers to you, lady…and so many stories begging to be told. xo
Awww. Thanks, Michelle. I’ve experienced the same thing — where I’m not quite sure what something means, even though others seem to. I find it is often just where my head is that particular day, but it can also be true that the writing is obtuse. Ideally, if your writing is clear, there should be no need for extra exposition. Probably, a lot of others commenting benefited from my explanatory comments! I doubt you were alone. Anyway, thanks for persisting! Been insanely busy the last couple of weeks but plan to work on my tour piece. Will email you. xoxo