Alfred Jones. Alfred F. Jones. The United States of America. Alfred Kirkland, as Arthur sometimes drunkenly refers to him. We all know him; no matter how far apart our homes are from his, we've all seen his face and heard his name…heard his voice. The world has already felt his power.
But no one has ever felt it like I have.
I remember it so vividly, it's only the obvious age on my scars that reminds me of just how many years have passed. I remember being blinded and burned, thrown and tossed like a doll in a tornado. I remember seeing my people disintegrate and melt, and the ones that survived looked like the mummies Mr. Hassan keeps at his house. I remember the pain so well, like a thousand wicks, burning white-hot had been lit, and their candle was my body. The wicks couldn't have been more than a millimeter long.
I knew it was him when I glimpsed the plane's departure. English words I knew Arthur would never use were scrawled on the side of it, and something inside my throbbing body told me he was there. He was the one trying to murder me, he wanted to hurt me tenfold for how I'd hurt him, and he'd succeeded. I hadn't intimidated him, I'd only woken a sleeping superpower inside of him. He discovered his ability to be cruel and he utilized it as hard as he could.
I know it would be logical for me to despise him for what he's done to me, to my country and my people, but I can't. How could I, when he returned so soon after and treated my wounds, tried so hard to heal the damage he'd done. How could I hate someone so pathetically repentant?
I let him repay me, and then I let him cry for me, on me. I let him cling to me and sob into my clothes, while I stroked his hair and rubbed his back, shushing him gently. I tried to console him, this poor shadow of the titanic nation he represented, who shook and despaired so horribly, but he couldn't hear it. All he could see were my burns and lacerations, the ones he'd bandaged with such a tender hand, and even hidden under my clothing, he could only focus on them.
It's been a grand total of sixty-five years since the American bomber, Enola Gay, dropped that decimating atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, and Alfred still cries.
Every summer, every August he's here, completely limp and sobbing on the sixth night in my arms, and although the scars are faded and wrinkled, he still sees them. He touches them, and while I can only revel in the feeling of his skin against mine, he can only cry more.
He'll never bomb another country with that kind of force. He swears it on his heart, that the destruction starts and stops with Hiroshima, with me. It's beautiful, that promise. I never want to see this kind of scar on the skin of another living being, I could never wish the pain I suffered on any of them.
I never want him to be the villain again.
I don't want him to have to cry for anyone else. I don't want him to cry on anyone but me. It's sick, in a sense, I suppose, to almost be grateful for the hell my city endured, but when I let it creep into my thoughts I think, if he'd never dropped that bomb, I might never have given up my fight and he wouldn't love me like this.
Maybe it isn't love on his side, like it is on mine, but if it brings him to me night after night and allows us to touch in this intimate way, I can't despise it. Not all the way.
So I console him year after year, and year after year more of his tears are shed into my clothing, ruining them with salt stains. Knowing he regrets everything brings me a happiness I cannot describe, and so I allow this to continue, to keep him with me and to keep us connected.
I'll never allow him to forget.