For three days we held the barricades. Their army was pressing in, occupying the suburbs and for now, probing our lines with nothing more than plastic bullets and tear gas.

But we knew they’d come. The situation, like a bicycle, was inherently unstable, requiring forward motion, demanding an unfolding of events.

That’s why she did it. Christie.

Stick thin, scarred, brittle Christie. She’d turn up at my place, drink my vodka and dance. A beautiful girl, but her self-harm made her untouchable.

There were more and more beatings from the opposition and they used more and more lethal force. We got scared I guess.

We made spears and petrol bombs and someone in the next neighbourhood rigged something up with cooking gas. I guess you’d call it an IED, but we all thought it was as likely to kill them as anyone else and besides, we still didn’t want to think about us killing them. We hoped it wouldn’t come to that.

And that’s where Christie came in. The conflict did something to her. She came to the coordination meetings, drank more freely with us in those tense evenings. Talked about her Surprise.

She never told me what she planned.

I got to my shift on the barricade and she was already gone. I could see her retreating back as she walked to the enemy lines, looking for all the world like a girl returning from a night out.

Short skirt, champagne bottle swinging from her hand.

For a brief moment I thought something marvellous might happen; that she’d walk right through their lines suffering nothing more than cat whistles.

As she reached the line she was greeted by a group of leering soldiers. She swigged from the bottle. Held up a cigarette for a light.

Christie, with a stomach full of petrol, lungs full of fumes, petrol in her bottle, suddenly smashed at her feet.

The self-harming lost girl, finally found her place.

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