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a peaceful protest

I was 16, and the thought of being forced to mention God as part of the pledge of allegiance was too hypocritical an act for me to play along with. Each day of high school began with this mundane recitation, as most people just stood with their hand jutting from a hip, the other dangling across their chest as they counted out the seconds until they could sit back down. They leaned against desks, and talked through it about what party and where it would be, if there would be a keg or a bonfire in the woods. I recited the words, omitting the "under God" part as a sort of half-baked protest. I was raised to flaunt my family's ramshackle atheism, as a choice of smug pride. We knew better, was the prevailing logic.

But one day, I could not stand and say any of it. It felt so rote, so hollow, so devoid of choice. There was no law that said I was required to say it. I knew this was my right, a form of free speech. My homeroom teacher was a legendary drinker, a trash-talking re…

babel


The door to a shed yawns open, empty inside. It stays this way when it rains, when the sky is crammed with clouds. I check every time I pass it. There were some plastic bins in the grass that someone took, tossed aside like a child's toys. A man hole cover rests, a crescent shadow on one side that leads down beneath the street, maybe to wires, maybe to pipes or maybe to nothing.

A pile of bricks stand, a makeshift babel, a marker. Is a family pet buried here? Is this just a balancing act? I take pictures of it once, and then again. The weeds are growing tall here. It is a minor miracle, that no one has knocked it down. Not even the fresh hurricane that swept through the city last week could topple it. Black clouds swirling above buildings like a comic book's last act, rain smacking against windows, streets flooding and these bricks remain.

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