Stone’s Story / Kathryn Shapiro

None of this happened, but that is not important, and actually, nothing is. Stone didn’t know this when he signed up for the United States Army after 9/11. He lived in Seattle when it happened, knew no one who died in the attack and knew no one who knew anyone who died, except for a schoolmate’s second cousin. His schoolmate talked about it loudly in class, how fucked up it all was, then would weep when no one paid him any attention. It was a sad time but Stone felt absolutely nothing, yet he would nod his head when friends and family talked obnoxiously and incessantly about how depressing the news was, and stuck a miniature American Flag made of plastic and more purple than blue in his front yard to pretend he cared. Stone, twenty-four and tall, depending who you asked, and not particularly attractive, less debatable, had trouble feeling. The purest spring day with the purest girl, both of which he experienced, did not make him happy, and the darkest day in the darkest of times, and yes I mean the day when the terrorist hijacked our airplanes and attacked our cities, did not make him sad. In a plea for passion, Stone enrolled in the army, hoping to be sent to a far off land to be screamed at, attacked and hurt, to feel the triumph of victory and unity of brotherhood and maybe save a life and whatever else the pamphlet said that he didn’t really read, nor did he have to. On the plane to Iraq, Stone listened to a recording of a slow Southern voice thanking the men for their service and talking about the vile Iraqi Government, how they’d surely attack us again and next time probably their family too, and the voice from inside the radio told the boys not to be afraid to kill et cetera et cetera. Somewhere over Russia Stone fell asleep.

The war was like every other war that has ever happened and will ever happen and rest assured there will be more. Unsurprisingly in this war as with all the other wars, Stone did not feel the American Pride, the American Passion that was promised to him by the voice on the airplane that crackled through the speakers. Not when he shot the gun you see in your nightmares, not when the heat was unbearable and the cold felt like the war surely must be over, not when men from the States stopped by to tell allegedly funny jokes to men who thought nothing was or ever could be funny, and not when he made love to two different girls under the same stars. With a week left on his tour, Stone thought he might defect and join the “enemy” whoever that may be. To feel guilt, afraid, excitement, regret or if he was lucky he’d form a bond with the said enemy and finally be passionate about something or even someone, none of which has happened before. Of course the world is unlucky and so is Stone and none of this happened and a week came and went and Stone left the warzone and none of his brothers noticed he was gone and he wondered if they knew he had ever been there. He tried to remember their real names and the throbbing of his hands after firing that nightmare gun and what the girls felt like under the stars. It was too hard and too much and not enough and somewhere over Russia Stone fell asleep.

Stone came back but not really and wanted to move to New York to become an actor, a fucking actor, so he moved and found a cold apartment that had two windows and wooden floors and decided to hang an American Flag on the wall that was more purple than blue. In acting class Stone read the lines from the pages, shouted when instructed to and cried on command and mimicked feeling passion one evening to which the acting coach, whatever that is, said Stone did a good job and was a decent actor but maybe he should spend some time studying the craft and maybe travel the world to realize “there’s a whole other land out there that’s not New York, ha ha ha” et cetera et cetera. The coach thought maybe traveling would make Stone’s acting more convincing and Stone agreed because it was easy to do and thought the boys he knew in the war might know of some nice travel spots but he could not remember their real names and could not remember what the girls from the war felt like and could not remember the noise of that nightmare gun. Weeks came and went and then acting class was over and on a bright day with a friendly breeze and the noise of songbirds in the air, Stone decided to become a writer, a fucking writer, to make up stories he thought happened but was not so sure, and planned to write about the names of the boys he fought with but fought was not really the right word, and to write about the girls under the stars and that nightmare gun.

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