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.
Bruce Holland Rogers has a home base in Eugene, Oregon, the tie-dye capital of the world. He writes all types of fiction: SF, fantasy, literary, mysteries, experimental, and work that’s hard to label.
For six years, Bruce wrote a column about the spiritual and psychological challenges of full-time fiction writing for Speculations magazine. Many of those columns have been collected in a book, Word Work: Surviving and Thriving as a Writer (an alternate selection of the Writers Digest Book Club). He is a motivational speaker and trains workers and managers in creativity and practical problem solving.
He has taught creative writing at the University of Colorado and the University of Illinois. Bruce has also taught non-credit courses for the University of Colorado, Carroll College, the University of Wisconsin, and the private Flatiron Fiction Workshop. He is a member of the permanent faculty at the Whidbey Writers Workshop MFA program, a low-residency program that stands alone and is not affiliated with a college or university. It is the first and so far only program of its kind. Currently he is teaching creative writing and literature at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary, on a Fulbright grant.
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