We Stand Up

This story collection is an exemplar for Short-short Sighted #20, “Consolidated Flash and the Collective Narrator”.

From the beginning, they’ve made us pay. For saying that the king was not a god, they cut out our tongues. For reading the holy books for ourselves, they cut out our eyes.

We have been starved in dungeons. We have been murdered in exile. We have been burned alive, buried alive, drowned. We have been machine-gunned in the streets. We have been rounded up in the stadium. We have disappeared. Our children have been raised by strangers who taught them to hate whatever we loved.

We wrote and acted in dangerous plays, and they hung us by the neck until we were dead. We blocked the mine entrance, and they beat us with sticks. We walked to the sea for salt, and they jailed us. We mocked them with jokes, and they sent us to labor camps.

We confess. We did sometimes set fire to our own houses or to the houses of innocents. Sometimes we killed our enemies. Sometimes we killed people we mistook for our enemies. We are ashamed.

We are also proud. They knocked us down with stones, and we stood up. They shot us down with guns, and we stood up. They rode at us on motorcycles, swinging pipes, knocked us over, and we stood up. With empty hands we stood up in front of tanks, and the tanks paused.

They have been beating us down so long that they’ve grown weary. “Enough,” they say. They take off their helmets to wipe away the sweat. They wipe the blood from their batons. “Enough,” they say. “Stay down.”

We stand up.