The Soldier’s Hundredth Birthday Cake

He is seated at a table in a house that smells of a familiar gravy. He can’t recall the names of the people surrounding him, though their noses look a lot like his. They are wearing pointed hats strapped beneath their chins and blowing on paper horns as if they were part of a parade that got led astray. Someone enters the room cradling a white cake with candles sticking up, all ablaze. Like a plundered village. Everyone breaks into song. Then they chant for him to extinguish the flames. As if he were back in Germany again. Crawling through the carnage. The stench of charred flesh. The moaning. He leans forward. Blows. Then blows again. The fires go out. Though the little towers smolder on.

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