By Ekta R. Garg
Prompt: One syllable, one story: Write a story, paragraph or poem using only one-syllable words. Don’t limit yourself to logical narratives. Write freely, using the restriction to explore unusual word pairings or unexpected directions. Once you have finished, find the phrase or sentence that most strikes you. Make that line a springboard for another piece of writing.
I came back that day to get my ball. My friends asked me to get my ball; they said mine was the best. So I came back for my ball, and then I could not find it. I lay down to look ‘neath my bed and saw it there. And then I heard the shots.
I heard them, and then I thought I felt one in my chest. But it was not in my chest. The shots had not hurt me. The thing in my chest was my blood as it pumped hard, as it told me I still lived. I had not died. But I knew those shots meant dead men.
I don’t know how long I lay next to the bed on the floor. I felt like I lay on a sheet of dust. The floor had not been swept yet. I got dust in my throat, and I felt on the verge of a cough. But I held my breath. I did not want the thing that had made those shots to come for me. I did not want to get shot and die. I was just ten years old then. Life could not end in such a blunt way.
When I got up the nerve to stand, I did not put my weight on my heels. I stepped from toe to toe to the door of my room. I stopped there to hold my breath. If I held my breath, I thought, the bad thing or bad man would not hear me. If the bad man could not hear me, he could not shoot me.
I used my ears to tell me it was safe. When they told me I could move, I picked up my right foot and put it in front of me. But I still did not let my heels bear my weight; I still used my toes. I rocked my weight a bit, and then I picked up my left one next and put it in front of the right foot. Then I moved my right foot in front, then my left. Right, then left. Right, then left.
I kept my eyes on the floor, and I did not look up. If I had looked up I might have seen them. I did not. I saw the blood. It made weird round shapes on the floor and leaked from the man who lay close to me. I saw his face, and I screamed. I did not want to trust my eyes. I thought if I could trust just my ears, I would feel like I did when I came for my ball. In the time that had gone, that was in the past.
I would not be the same now. It had all changed. I had changed.
I had come for my ball and left as a boy with no dad.