Translation

Her name was Bianca. She was thirteen.

She only spoke French. No one spoke French. The resistance brought her here after she’d been hit by a Federated tank. The gash stretched from her ribcage to her hip, opening up like a silent and thirsty mouth.

I realized, after the third hour, that there was nothing to be done. I offered her tea. She was crying a lot.

I didn’t remember being thirteen.

“It hurts,” she said, and my mind flickered.

“It’ll stop soon,” I replied, pulling my knees to my chest. I was nineteen then. I’d been a medic for eleven months. No one had died before. I touched my fingers to her throat but the space where her pulse should have been was weak and erratic like a dripping faucet.

I thought of offering her painkillers, but didn’t.

“How do you speak French?” she asked.

“I speak everything.”

“I wish I could do that.”

“It’s not really worth it,” I said as I stared at the dark red stains beneath my fingernails. The funny thing about words is that they will evaporate in six hours and forty-nine minutes. After that, she’ll speak the same language as everyone else.

“Can I go home now?”

“You probably shouldn’t walk,” I said. She weighed ninety-three pounds. I wondered if I could carry her body to the alley.

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