Everyone had scattered.
I clearly remember hearing the distant, solitary squalling of a little
baby's cry, and the indifferent peal of a church bell from the next
town as the swollen sky rapidly darkened and spilled its heaviest rain,
turning the open field into a muddy marsh, replete with the leavings of
a hastily abandoned cardboard sign, and paper plates, and half-eaten
ice cream cones, and at least one knitted pink sweater with a bright
yellow smiley face button pinned upon it (looking blindly upward at no
one in particular).
The air smelled of a recent wood fire, reduced to
steaming, hissing embers as a somber prelude to inevitable extinguishment.
After a few minutes, a deathly quiet descended upon the entire world
as one of the young, uniformed soldiers bend down and proceeded, with
meticulous attention, to wipe the clods of muck from his parade boots with the
sodden flag of the nation that had once been mine.
Unseen, I slogged my way toward the row houses across from the parking lot.
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