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Odessa burns
around us while you
place your hand on
the trigger, your lips to
my brow, say "we have
to go back." Again, I tell
myself all isn't lost. Your
fingers are steady, love
will surely save us
from oblivion.


The 20s are lawless, filled
with the muck of survival, two
wars, three languages, our
people running
the underworld like
their birthright. This history
will be left here, discarded,
abandoned for tragedy, suffering,

"How much?" I say. "How
much farther?" You
look at me, restless,
uncertain, enchanting like
a chasm, like the first time
I saw you, careless and

By the docks, Sonia the
thief, the temptress, smiles
at you, daring you to
tell her the truth. Her hand
is golden, yours stutters, it's me
who has to save you, pull
you away from the

The bullets we got
for our oath, in the 26th
century, are impossible
to replenish. "We have to
go back farther, until
something is different,"
you say.


We’re back in a kingdom, raw
with injustice. The city
is different but still full
of our folk. Your dress is
even more lavish than
mine. Nobody imagines
themselves a peasant, given
a choice.

There's a girl in the shop. Nine
years old, working, illiterate. She's
one of your ancient mothers. Your
blood is her blood. She will
not live to see twenty. Your
hand is shaking, holding
the last two bullets and I’m
praying, now, to our god,
that this place is it.

"Why," you demand, "is it still
happening?" At the academy
you were better than me
at every subject. "We have
to go home, love," I say. We
have to leave here before
history happens

Marina Berlin grew up speaking three languages in a coastal city far, far away. She’s an author of short stories who’s currently working on her first novel. You can follow her exploits on Twitter @berlin_marina or read more about her work at
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19 Feb 2024

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