Peer Review by M. Elyse Lynch (Australia)

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For a Little Girl Long-Gone

By: Hanan Adi

PROMPT: Solastalgia

There was once a little girl I knew. She used to play on a plot of sand near our suburban house.
She played alone. No one minded her.
Like a spider she played, clambering over the mounds, creeping through clumps of dry brush here and there, her long skinny limbs browning like bright fruit in the sun. Her eyes, round and open, swallowed the world from behind the fringe of her thick black hair.
Alert as a jackrabbit.
Every bird she noticed, every bur and stone and lonely flower.
No one minded her.
I was the only one who spoke to her.
Often I asked,
“Girl, what are you doing?”
Her answer was not always the same.
One day, it was:
“I am Loving.”
“Loving what?”
“Loving everything!”
Another day:
“I am Living.”
“Living for what?”
“For everything!”
And once she said:
“I’m trying to remember.”
“Remember what?”
“How everything looks.”
“But you see it every day! How can you forget?”
“It might look different tomorrow.”
I laughed. “It will always look like this, girl. Our corner of the world is faraway and forgotten. No one minds us. This piece of land has lain thus for a hundred years and it shall lie thus for a hundred more.”
I did not realize it then, but perhaps she was wise for her age.
Perhaps I should have listened to her more often.
She died three years ago.
It was the invasion. Strange men, armed with hammers and signposts, marched unopposed onto the little plot of sand. Bulldozers flattened the small shrubs, tore up the great ones. The plot was looted of its fine sand, its every stone, its one lonely flower. The birds fled the destruction of their home.
There was fire in her heart.
I saw her run up to the invaders, throw herself on the earth before the bulldozers. I watched, helpless, as they tore her heart open with their shovels, left her bleeding to death on a pile of massacred bushes and butchered rocks.
They levelled the sand-plot. It became a brick plot. It became a steel skeleton. They fleshed the steel with concrete.
Sometime along, the contractor backed out of paying the workers’ wages.
It remains until this day a hollow concrete structure, where mangy street cats hide, where litter piles, where the ghost of a little girl roams, lost and still wondering.
A grave.
To whomever that half-built, crumbling excuse for a house belongs.
It is common courtesy. If you no longer need a thing, you do away with it.
I am not asking you to bring back my childhood.
Just a little plot of sand.

Peer Review

'I watched, helpless, as they tore her heart open with their shovels, left her bleeding to death on a pile of massacred bushes and butchered rocks.' This is my favourite line, because it evokes so much emotion. You grow attached to the little girl, and to see her be torn apart like that is horrific, but the way you worded it was beautiful.

This piece reminds me of similar things that have happened near my home, and it brings back the anger I felt and clearly still feel.

Reviewer Comments

This piece was lovely to read. It flowed beautifully and really had an impact on me. Well done!