It used to be quiet on my street before they came. Over there, by the corner, I used to meet Arash and we would go down to the park, or over to the store for a soda if we had a dollar. I would wave to the widow in the end apartment, who was forever sitting on her porch knitting. I can just barely see her porch now, through the boards covering my window. Her old rocking chair is still sitting out there, sitting empty, slowly rocking and waiting for an owner whom isn’t coming back. She was one of the first to go when they came in there jeeps. Shouting orders at one another in strange accents I could barely understand. We all ran back into our houses then. I didn’t see what happened. I was cowering under the table. Arash said she just kept rocking, kept sitting there in that old chair, until one of them came over and screamed at her. And when she didn’t move he splattered her brains across that porch she loved so much and threw her body into the gutter.
They came into the houses, one by one, searching for god knows what. They took all the boys aside. They told us that it was time for change. That they were bringing us a new life, a better life. That there would be a life of peace, and we all we had to do to realize it was help them with there war. They told us to come with them. Arash said he didn’t want to. One of the men took Arash by the arm and led him away. I still don’t know what happened to him. Later, much later, I learned that boys who chose not to join were often killed. But I didn’t see it happen. When I’m up here, the cold rifle in my hands, peeking through the boards covering my bedroom window, I like to imagine that Arash is still out there somewhere. That he got away, that maybe he even found that land of peace the men are always talking about. That maybe on another street somewhere, things are still unchanged. But on our street the peace is gone. Shattered by the men who came and told us that we had to earn the peace we already had. And so I sit here, holding the rifle, watching the end of the street for the men in green and black. And waiting. Waiting for my street to change back to the way it used to be.