Megan Olsen

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Libba Bray
“His hand was a claw, sharp enough to open her. She would be like all the others—Ruta Badowski, in her broken dancing shoes. Tommy Duffy, still with the dirt of his last baseball game under his nails. Gabriel Johnson, taken on the best day of his life. Or even Mary White, holding out for a future that never arrived. She’d be like all those beautiful, shining boys marching off to war, rifles at their hips and promises on their lips to their best girls that they’d be home in time for Christmas, the excitement of the game showing in their bright faces. They’d come home men, heroes with adventures to tell about, how they’d walloped the enemy and put the world right side up again, funneled it into neat lines of yes and no. Black and white. Right and wrong. Here and there. Us and them. Instead, they had died tangled in barbed wire in Flanders, hollowed by influenza along the Western Front, blown apart in no-man’s-land, writhing in trenches with those smiles still in place, courtesy of the phosgene, chlorine, or mustard gas. Some had come home shell-shocked and blinking, hands shaking, mumbling to themselves, following orders in some private war still taking place in their minds. Or, like James, they’d simply vanished, relegated to history books no one bothered to read, medals put in cupboards kept closed. Just a bunch of chess pieces moved about by unseen hands in a universe bored with itself.”
Libba Bray, The Diviners

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