It’s dark in the mornings, and we all climb on the streetcar in silence. We recognize each other, fellow commuters traveling the same rails together day in and day out. Nothing ever changes.
We fall into our own distractions, sounds piped into our ears to drown out the world, reading homework or magazines or novels to keep from having to look at each other.
The next stop, though, something changes. People are muttering, shifting about, craning to look through the windows, past our own reflections, at something new.
The park has sprouted little white flags in the night.
“What’s going on? What are they? Is this some sort of college prank?”
Someone who just got on explains to us all. “The sign said every white flag is for 5 civilians killed, and every red flag is for 5 Americans killed in Iraq.”
We start craning our necks, looking for red flags. They should be easy to find in this sea of white. Someone thinks they spotted one, turns out it was a discarded food wrapper that got blown into the exhibit.
The man in the “God Bless the USA” hat quietly says, “That’s a lot of people.”
As the streetcar passes between buildings, my last view is of the little white flags, waving in the breeze.
They stretch for four blocks.
Iraq Body Count Exhibit