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    #1

    The Nineties, part eight

    This is the eighth part of my short story, "The Nineties". Please would you take a look and correct my mistakes.

    I decided to go to the river one last time before the bad weather and heavy rains turned it cold and swollen. I cycled through town and saw a few soldiers dressed in combat uniforms, carrying their heavy rucksacks and bags. I was dressed lightly: a white T-shirt, blue shorts and sandals, and they gave me envious looks. I could sense their frustration. They had willingly chosen to sweat under their gear and stomp in their heavy boots when they could have walked in T-shirts and sandals just as I did. On the main road, military trucks were rumbling by, with their bodies covered in dust and wheels caked in mud. How insane this war was, I thought. The ordinary people had once paid for all this equipment and weapons, and now the army was using them against its own people.
    When I came to the place where a path leading to the river ran into the main road, I put out my left arm to signal the left turn. I steered my handlebar towards the path, and then all I could remember was that something hit me from behind. It happened so fast that I did not have time to react before my head banged against the asphalt and I lost consciousness.

    “Down the corridor, boy. The last door to the right, they have to take an X-ray of your head,” a man dressed in white was speaking to me when I opened my eyes. I still did not understand where I was. The floor reeled under me, and I staggered zigzagging until a nurse took me by the hand and led me into the x-ray room. When I later looked at myself in the mirror, I winced at what I saw. The left part of my head and face were covered in wounds and bruises. My left arm, hip and leg were in terrible state, what with gashes, scratches and intense pain. The doctor told me I was lucky I got out alive.
    I lay in bed with a drip in my arm, when two police officers came in and took my statement. They told me that woman driver had already admitted her guilt. She had been distraught and had not noticed my outstretched arm at all. She apologised for her reckless driving and wished me a quick recovery.
    “You can take her to court and seek compensation,” said one of them.”
    “Who is she?
    “A refugee fleeing from Croatia together with her family.”

    I was never going to sue her, I thought. She had already suffered enough. She had lost her home and almost everything her family possessed. For what could refugees have taken with them except for a few bags of belongings and photograph albums? How desperate she must have felt, escaping the slaughter, driving into the unknown and knowing she and her family were always going to be a burden for other people.
    The doctor ordered me to stay in hospital for a day or two until they could be sure my brain had not suffered any damages. I had a quiet night and woke up in the morning without the slightest headache. After breakfast, I walked up and down the long corridor and looked through the windows at a large red ball rising over the hills. Life seemed to proceed as usual, people and vehicles heading towards their goals, pupils scampering to their schools, parents taking their offspring to day care centres, shops and cafes opening their doors for the customers, and military vehicles rumbling past. On the surface, everything was as it had been before, but I felt this was an illusion, which was going to disintegrate soon under the power of the evil. I knew that people of my country followed their leaders like sheep; they would do that this time too, and in the end pay the highest price.

    Suddenly, I heard someone screaming and wailing loudly on the floor below. It went on for a while, and I was curious to see what was going on. I descended the stairs and saw a middle-aged woman crying and beating herself on the breast in grief. The strands of her dishevelled dark hair had glued to the forehead by perspiration. Her eyes and face were red and swollen with tears. Three nurses surrounded her, tried to console her, in vain. “Jovan, my only son, why did you leave your mother alone?” she yelled. “Why did they kill you? Curse be upon them, their children and grandchildren. My only son, how am I going to survive without you? My heart is bursting with sorrow...” Other patients came up and watched her with pity. We all had felt her pain. I asked a woman beside me what had happened to the woman’s son and she told me he died this morning. They brought him yesterday from the front line badly wounded. The doctors tried everything, but the man was beyond recovery. Barely twenty years old.
    I could not bear to listen to the woman’s lamentation and share with her an unimaginable grief. I returned to my room and lay on my bed with the arms under my head looking at the white ceiling. I prayed in silence to the Universe to do wonder and stop the madness. Little did I know then that the next year I was going to sit on a bare concrete floor in a prison camp, and watch people being tortured and beaten to death in front of my eyes.
    The end.

  1. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: The Nineties, part eight

    I feel like this is an unplanned (on my part, at least) collaboration. (You have all the talent, of course. )

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post

    I decided to go to the river one last time before the bad weather and heavy rains turned it cold and swollen. I cycled through town and saw a few soldiers dressed in combat uniforms and carrying their heavy rucksacks and bags.
    I am not an expert on that sort of thing, but I doubt that the rain water would make the river colder. However, flooding might make it more dangerous to anyone who happens to fall in.

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    #3

    Re: The Nineties, part eight

    You give me guidance. Without you I would not know where I make mistakes, which words are unnecessary in my sentences, and which phrases that I have used do not sound good in English.

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    #4

    Re: The Nineties, part eight

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    I was dressed lightly: a white T-shirt, blue shorts and sandals, and they gave me envious looks.
    How about:

    I was dressed in a white T-shirt, blue shorts, and sandals, and they gave me envious looks.

    And you might want to add something. Perhaps:


    I felt like they wanted to pummel me within an inch of my life just for being there.

    Do you see my point? (I'm feeling inspired today. )

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    #5

    Re: The Nineties, part eight

    Hey! I just noticed that I am a key member. That means they have to pay me more, doesn't it?

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    #6

    Re: The Nineties, part eight

    I understand. The word "lightly" is unnecessary. You feel inspired probably because my short story gives you inspiration to write your own story. Some of your brain cells, which had until now be dormant, are now awake and do not want to leave you in peace. They are working at full speed. You will probably start writing your own stories, soon.

  4. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: The Nineties, part eight

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    They had willingly chosen to sweat under their gear and stomp in their heavy boots when they could have walked in T-shirts and sandals just as I did.
    Actually, they probably hadn't even thought about that when they enlisted (rather impulsively). That is why they wanted to beat the crap out of you. (Because you were free, and they were not.) Human nature, you know.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    On the main road, military trucks were rumbling by, with their bodies covered in dust and wheels caked in mud.
    That sentence needs to be reworked. It's the "their bodies covered in dust" part. (i like the mud. Let's work with that.)

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    #8

    Re: The Nineties, part eight

    Tarheel,
    It is not human bodies, but bodies of the trucks. I am not sure if the metal parts of the truck are called a "body". But I could not remember another word.

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    #9

    Re: The Nineties, part eight

    Another idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    On the main road, military trucks were rumbling by, with their bodies covered in dust and wheels caked in mud.
    Perhaps:

    On the main road, military trucks rumbled by. Their wheels were covered with mud, which splattered everywhere.

    (I don't think I am going to write prose fiction any time soon. Poetry is easier.)

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    #10

    Re: The Nineties, part eight

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    How insane this war was, I thought. The ordinary people had once paid for all this equipment and weapons, and now the army was using them against its own people.
    Perhaps:

    How insane war is, I thought. The ordinary people of this country had been taxed to pay for all this equipment which was now being used against them.


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