…She wants the fruit. She wants her freedom. She wants to do everything she shouldn’t. She shoves back her purple headscarf and walks to the open window of her small, second-story apartment. She sticks her torso out and leans, hanging her head upside down. Her hair dangles like a black flag in the breeze. Positioned like this, she won’t have to look up the street at the remains of her family compound. She won’t have to wish she’d died in there three years ago either.
-- Katey Schultz, Still Come Home
…A headache balls at the base of his skull. He watches the city face into shadows, block by block. Airborne particles of sand catch the sun’s rays, Mother’s Nature’s tracer fire. Within minutes, the horizon appears lit by a throbbing Armageddon. Four tours and it has come to this. The night before Miller’s last mission outside the wife, Chaffen’s voice echoing like a challenge inside Miller’s head: That’s how you’ve got to start thinking, in all directions.
…Flecks of dirt line his closed eyelids, and she can see a few fleas in his shaggy, dark hair. His lips are chapped, his earlobes bitten and red. Scuff marks fall in a line down his torso, likely from belly-crawling over rocks or wriggling through shrubs. At the bottom of his shorts, each leg pokes through the opening of fabric like a tent pole.
Rahim darts across the road, taking his weapon off safety, then leans his side against the embankments from shoulder to ankle, blending into the land as seamlessly as a scattering of dirt. The desert is amazing like that, the way it stretches and folds across the country like the broad, sloping belly of a giant. The way it holds almost everything a man could ever need, including his shape, until they’re practically one.