Excerpt: 'The Size of the World'

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I thought we were okay once we got in our building, which was barricaded with sandbags on one side. Ernst at least knew to put on his flak jacket and helmet right away. His face was clenched and blank. We were supposed to go into the bunker but it seemed a better idea to stay put. I looked around for cover and I pulled a mattress down over us. We stank together under that hood.

"You okay?" I kept saying. "You okay?"

"Fine," he said.

I wondered if the kapok on the mattress was flammable. Every one of my organs was pulsing, thudding under the skin. And the other, unmoving body with me -- Ernst's body -- heaved in and out to get air. Ernst looked, in his sweating blankness, like a staring animal, like a bear sullenly waiting out its panic.

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