“But it’s okay now,” Amir said, lowering his gaze.

His hair was a snarl of disorderly cowlicks the color of wet sand; his eyes were hazel.

But Veronica could only hear the echoes of the story he’d just told her: how he found his uncle, stripped, beaten, and hanging by his neck from a length of noosed rope and how his uncle’s blood had settled and his toes, Amir had said, were the color of stewed prunes.

“It’s over,” he said, softly.

But she was still there: frozen before a devout man she didn’t know, hanging from a tree limb.




J.C. Howell is a fiction writer living in the Chicago area with a few short works published in small-press local anthologies. He has taught English as a Second Language in the Czech Republic and much of his current work draws inspiration from Central- and East-European literary traditions and history.