Author: Janet Shell Anderson
Enormous sound, heard and felt; goes right through me; my bones feel it. Shock. The sky over the Potomac cracks; the sound streaking overhead moving from East to West as if heaven’ll fall into two pale, white pieces. One breath. Two. I’m not afraid.
Birds lift into the air like one animal, whole flocks. The river, sulky, milky, murky, icy, grumbles to itself, as a doomsday sunset pink spreads at the bottom of dark clouds, reflects on chunks of river ice.
I shouldn’t be here where I could be picked up, shot. He’s listed us all as traitors, everyone who did not stand and applaud him. Drones filmed us just standing there, staring at him, while huge missiles on trucks went by. A parade. Pennsylvania Avenue cracked in two places from the weight of the rockets and their carriers; the crowd stood cold, sullen.
I hear sirens, red shrieks of sound, see planes coming fast over the ice-crusted river, fifty feet above the current, fighters, really moving. They light up afterburners.
My great grandfather Nils, an engineer back in the twentieth century, designed a bomb shelter in the White House when Truman was President. Is it still there?
“He’s done it now,” a man swears. “Sonofabitch. He’s done it now.”
Not safe comments. The Tidal Basin looks grey, smoky, the famous Japanese cherry trees, wet and black, bent with ice. A lot of them have been burned because they’re not American trees. Swastikas score many trunks. There’s another tremendous sound but different from the ones in the sky. The ground shakes. Has something hit the White House?
“What was that?” a very young woman, really still a girl, shivering near the trees, whispers. She has dark hair, dark eyes, looks foreign. That’s not good these days. My hair’s bleached white as snow. Safer.
What’s that? Arctic people. Pretty scary. A while back near Lapland, my cousins, the Bixos, dealt with NewNazis, Germans who came to conquer, made it illegal to mention the Holocaust. Built a big structure, marched around requiring obedience. It didn’t last. There was not a stone left of the Nazi fortress. Not one stone. Some black jackets in the snow. An arm.
Wolves were blamed.
“Aren’t you afraid?” the young woman asks.
I see a big gush of flame across the river reflected in the chunks of ice that rock slowly as the tide runs out. The Potomac’s a tidal river.
I used to think all rivers had tides.
The Jamts left not a stone behind.