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(A short story of 1464 words)

Return Journey


by Brenda Ray

A Republican soldier returns in spirit to the battle grounds of the Spanish Civil War.

The mountains are like blood. Not new blood, red and shocking, but congealed and rusted, like an old wound. Lit lurid by the aftermath of dawn, they rise up from the sea, rounded and brooding, silent as the grave. Spain, land of my birth, blood of my blood. I have returned. I have come back. I am home.

Then the concrete quay, a flurry of signs, new roads, mist rising from the valleys as the Basque territories unfurl into the morning, unfolding in crumpled layers like a bale of chiffon. The mountains now are soft and green, no longer the ferrous red of the coast and the sky is like pearl. The hills remain, but industry has receded. The Ring of Iron, they called it then, has powdered into rust, and nature has reclaimed its own. Pit-heads are heaps of stone and furnaces lie cold. The ravages of war have healed long since, moss crept over stone and door-frames...

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