Her granny glasses glint in the sunlight. She looks different than when she’d pressed her tears into his uniform.

“Hi, Ray. Need help across the street?” She touches his wheelchair.

“No thanks, Linda.”

She smells of sandalwood, like a hippie. He chokes. Before his draft number came up, they’d danced at the prom. Linda’s dress had matched her hair ribbon and she’d smelled like blossoming flowers.

“I have an appointment.” He nods his head toward the VA.

Wheeling away from her smile, they appear again: the children in the jungle village. He wheels faster, but the napalm smell catches up.




Author’s Note: A 25-word version of this story was previously published on espressostories.com.




Carolyn Julia Brown received her MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University in 2015. Her previous publications include a poem which won first prize in the journal Alumni Reflections; essays in the anthology Summer Shorts and the online literary magazine Mason’s Road; and stories on espresso stories. Carolyn is currently finishing a collection of stories linked by the theme of addiction.

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