Two Stories That Soldiers Still Tell

by Kelly Dulaney

Here is a story that the soldiers still tell:

It is about Alexander in the sunlit city of Corinth.

Once, Alexander strode the city streets, staring down citizens. The sun circled his head; the sky circled his head. Sweat dampened his scalp. Wherever he went, men and women made way, averting their eyes. Only one man did not—an old, doggish man, asleep in an isolated avenue, sprawled in Alexander’s shadow.

Alexander began to grin.

He kicked the old man awake, laughing at his lethargy, and said, You don’t defer. There’s something in me that likes that. For that I’ll do you favors. For that I’ll give you gifts. So go on—speak. What would you like from me?

Get out of my light, the old man said. I want to see the sun.

Alexander’s vicious joy thickened in his throat. I wish, he said, leaning over the old man, I wish I had your mouth.

Here is a story that the soldiers still tell:

It is about Alexander in the infinite dirt.

Once, an enemy struck Alexander’s skull with a stone, knocking him into a blind and desensitized sleep. The sun adhered in the immobile air. Dust circled its burning circumference. All was thick with its warmth: the iron swords of the soldiers, the stretch of earth at the gates of the sieged city, the slouch of one army against another—and Alexander, laid out across the gaping ground.

He did not hear the howl of his armies.

He did not notice the dun-colored dogs, licking at his fingertips.

Kelly Dulaney holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Her writing has previously appeared in Fairy Tale Review, The Best American Experimental Writing Anthology (BAX) of 2015, The Collagist, and Caketrain, among other venues. She is the author of a novel, Ash (Urban Farmhouse Press 2016), and currently serves as editor of The Cupboard Pamphlet.