A Harsh Lesson

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Title:
A Harsh Lesson
Publisher & Category:
Ruthie’s Club

EXCERPT: Stealthy shadows crept across the quiet bedroom as the reddish-yellow sun dipped behind the nearby western mountains.

The slim, nude woman leaned forward over the vanity to stare into her eyes within the mirror. Her bright green eyes offered a contrast to the black makeup around her eyes that was, in turn, a sharp contrast to the rest of her face that was painted white. Except for her lips—her lips were bright red, as red as blood.

Gay tilted her head and looked at her eyes from different angles.

She knew, everyone knew, it would happen again. There was no choice after Serbian mortar fire killed over three dozen people in Sarajevo.

The waiting aircraft would fly into the Balkans, their wings heavy with long, fat shapes that tapered to a dull point at one end with movable fins at the other. The sleek fighters would climb high over the grayish valleys and mountains of dense freezing clouds until they reached their targets. Then the aircraft, so beautiful in their own way, would roll over and dive with a silent accuracy that became a triumphant scream. Dark, fat objects would separate from the aircraft and drop through the cold air to plunge deep into the shuddering earth before exploding in a blinding white flash.

She picked up a white, gold-decorated mask with a spray of stiff gold cloth around the top and side edges. Behind the cloth was a thick fan of black feathers with highlights of red feathers that would shroud her head. She ran the tips of her red fingernails across the gold and white mask, then tenderly donned it.

Once again she stared at herself in the mirror and tilted her head from side to side as if to assure herself that no one would recognize her.

Ages before, Gay stared at herself in another mirror as her smooth young body rocked to the steady rhythm of a shadowy man behind her who gripped her rounding hips with rough, skeletal thin hands.

To a runaway in the 1980s Federal Republic of Germany, 300 Deutschmarks was a fortune for gifts that she attached no particular importance to. As she leaned over the dark antique dresser, she closed her eyes, bit her lower lip…

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