Issue 105, Winter 1987
He remembers the peculiar, special warmth of days in southern France. The sharp smell in the air of sun on pine trees. Of fires. These smells and that warmth on his skin come to him before he sees anything.
He is in a squat tower then, looking out through iron bars at a sun-drenched green landscape; the tower is part of a city wall. But knowing he is again in a dream, it is easy to free himself, to sit in judgment instead.
Will he really judge those people to death, have them handed over to the stubbly, sweaty soldiers? That child, isn’t she at least too young? No, she’s eight. She has reached the age of reason. A soldier drinks, spits.
There is little sound, it is a very hot day, nothing stirs. In this sharp sunlight the fires will be almost invisible. There will be much dark smoke and the ashes will rise and rise.
But all this is better than doubt, they say.
But as he watches over this field of stakes with men, women, and children burning on them, like an orchard of dying man nikins, the sirens start. Their long drawn-out up and down wail fills the streets, covers the field, rises up to the hills around the city. The gleaming missiles appear.
He wakes up. He feels himself filled with hopelessness, with an idea of this-cannot-be. He moves up to Diana, he presses his head against her shoulder, and he cries. She doesn’t completely wake up, she strokes his hair with her right hand. “Sh, sh,” she whispers.