Crows, 1950

They had come for him very early in the morning. It was still dark outside, and he was dreaming about his childhood—catching grasshoppers in the hills, roasting them in the small metal brazier, the red embers turning to gray ash. He could still taste their peppery flavor and feel the light crackle between his teeth as the burnt shells popped. He was hungry when he woke, so hungry he would have put off attending to the wound on his foot, that ghost-borne injury that usually haunted his dreams.

There was no time, the men said; the Reds would kill him and probably his whole family if they found a grown man still in the village. He had to rush. Everybody in the village knew about his foot and his ritual of preparing his sock; they couldn’t afford to have him slow them down. The artillery in the distance wasn’t thunder—or bamboo popping in a fire, for that matter—it was the North Korean People’s Army advancing toward Seoul, a surprise attack, and there was nothing stopping them.

People on couch
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