He Would Have Preferred That She Just Spit on Him

by Mark Chmiel

He’d been home a couple of months
Against his better judgment
He said yes he’d come
To his fraternity’s party

Before he left for Iraq
He never drank alcohol
Even with his fraternity brothers
And at the gathering he wouldn’t drink

He suspected he wouldn’t last long
Little things unnerved him
Like seeing so many people
Casually fingering their cell phones

He was hanging with three friends
Talking about baseball
When he was over there
He’d daydream about being in the stadium back home

Now he had no interest whatsoever
To go downtown to a game
His peripheral vision indicated
Someone was approaching

Turns out, a woman his age
Named Stephanie
“Hey, Stef,” Brandon said
“Meet Drew”

Both smiling, they shook hands
Brandon: “Drew just got back from Iraq”
Stef: “Oh really? How cute!”
Drew looked across the room and pointed

“Hey, I’m going over to see Jordan”
He said politely
So he could get leave and get way
The fuck away from his fellow Americans

–from novel-in-process, Our Heroic and Ceaseless 24/7 Struggle against Tsuris

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