A piece of flash fiction I wrote on the subject of patriotism and inspired by the current election.
A Revolutionary Act
I love my country, but it has to change. He said to himself. After today everything will be different. He unbuckled his seatbelt, glanced at himself in the mirror and took a deep breath, surprised at his own nervousness. All these weeks of planning. The arguing and the debate, this is what it comes down to; one simple act. He looked around the street, watching the people milling around; paying particular attention to the steady stream entering and exiting the community centre across from his car, like a convoy of ants making their procession to the colony. They’re all so casual, like this is a normal day. People are beaten and executed for what I’m about to do. It can terrify governments and spark riots and war. Yet the people around me don’t care or don’t understand. What I, and others like me, do today will affect everyone I see here.
He opened the door and stepped onto the road, being careful to keep his coat closed, then walked purposefully over to the community centre. His heart started pounding as he crossed the threshold and followed the line of people into the large hall at the heart of the building. I guess this is it. No going back now. Taking one last look around the hall at the housewives, mechanics, retirees, office workers, husbands, wifes and grandparents moving through it; he let his coat fall open, it no longer mattered now he was inside, and stalked over to a booth by the far wall.
Entering the booth he reached down for the tool he’d expected to be left there, the instrument of his revolutionary act and he grasped it in his hand. He paused, just for a beat, a short rest in a frenetic musical score, then the baton is raised again and he looked down and with the pencil he marked a cross in a box on the slip of paper before him. It’s done. He let out a long, easy breath and folded the paper once, pushed it through the slot on the ballot box next to the booth and smiled at the returning officer. Once more he closed his coat against the spring rain and walked out of the centre to discover what new country lay before him in tomorrow’s dawn.