The Soldier Wore a Red and Gold Ribbon in his First Buttonhole

She was humming.

He felt frozen to the stone, like a dead rose under a sheet of ice.

He wasn’t sure at first. He thought perhaps she was choking again, and he dared to lean closer, dreading that this might be her last breath, the one she kept from him all night. But the rattling wheeze smoothed out into a faint, wordless song.

Her voice was as fragile as dragonfly wings, but it pierced him as surely as if each note were a nail driven through his bones directly into the marble. The murmur from her mouth might as well have hung on the lips of Lucifer.

It was the song that played when he slid the first crisp dollar between her fingers and let her lead him into the crowd that sweated and groaned around them. It was the song that popped and cracked on the old turntable in her bedroom when he found her with the German infantryman.

The End

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