All that she held sacred – short story

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I wrote this a while ago. It was an attempt at flash fiction – 500 words or fewer.

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From her sunlit table across the square, Rafaella D’Agostini watched the shiny black Lancia parked outside the courthouse. It belonged to the Chief of Police. The bomb beneath it was the work of Nino, the boy she had inducted into Gruppo Junio 20 just a month earlier. The phone lying a few centimetres from her coffee cup differed from all the others on display in one detail. It held a message ready to send that would combine the police chief’s atoms with those of his chauffeur, the Lancia and the kilo of Semtex beneath his seat.

She sipped her coffee and flicked through the copy of Vogue in front of her. Her heart was beating rapidly; her palms were slick with sweat. She licked a wisp of foam and cocoa from the end of her finger. The taste of the chocolate reminded her of her father. As a child, she’d had to clean his riding boots every Sunday while her mother was at Church. While she polished, her arm sheathed in the glossy black leather, he’d sit behind her, fondling her budding breasts. Then afterwards he’d give her chocolate angels and make her promise not to tell anyone. Over the years she had learned to disassociate herself from her surroundings, feeling nothing as her father’s breathing grew harsher and faster.

In adulthood, she’d not been able to be close to any man until she met her husband, Antonio, while at university. They shared a hatred of authority, which led to their forming Lega Rosso – an anarchist group with no clearly defined aims other than the disruption of any ideals society held dear. These included the sanctity of life; particularly when the life in question belonged to a judge, a general or a politician. Two years later, Rafaella had been forced to assume sole command of the group, renaming it to mark the day a black-clad special forces sniper had ended her husband’s life with a high-velocity bullet.

Now she sat, waiting for her next target. At 12.30, just as he did every day, Chief Dario Espinoza came out of the courthouse clutching his case of papers and took the stairs two at a time as he made for his car. His chauffeur, a stocky ex-paratrooper, held the Lancia’s door open for him as he rounded the back of the car.

At her table, Rafaella watched and waited, caressing the send key on her phone. As the car pulled away from the kerb, she pushed the smooth nub of plastic and felt it click beneath her fingertip. She felt the shockwave next, and heard the roar, as the flames blossomed from beneath the Lancia, bursting it like a balloon. She watched as pieces of metal and flesh rained onto the tarmac, then finished her coffee and walked away from the café, pushing through the stream of people rushing towards the wreck of her father’s car.

The end

The image of the girl polishing the boot was taken from a Paula Rego print, The Policeman’s Daughter, which inspired the whole story