One thread of the story is out on the battlefield, or, more likely, in a town in a war-torn country such as, say, Iraq or Afghanistan.
The parallel, intertwining story is that of a veteran on his way to an important meeting that, if all goes well, could propel him into a better opportunity.
We see before-and-after slices into the life of a soldier, the sacrifices made by a classical hero, and the surprising reception he receives sometime after he is back home.
The story looks at how individuals operate by themselves as well as in the group. It peels away the mirage that life as we know it is not as it seems, no matter how progressive we think we are. Everyone in this story has a part to play; everyone has a role. We are either going through the motions, following the pack or doing what we feel is right at the given moment.
Lara, whom I know un poquito through Grub Street in Boston, no doubt brings his four years of experience in the U.S. Army into the story. In so doing, he allows you the reader to feel the anguish of a soldier reacting to the condition of the woman who just seconds before had been yelling and running toward them.
This could be a story about a Vietnam veteran and still ring true, if not for that woman’s “black robes flowing around her”. That one detail grounds this place in Iraq, or perhaps Afghanistan. I don’t know if Lara was stationed in either one, but as a writer he has shown effectively how soldiers might address each other and interact in a life-threatening situation.
In less than a thousand words, the story conveys the desperation of all characters, the various struggles of race and ethnicities, the economic uncertainty of today. It evokes the realization that life continues to be an ongoing struggle, not only to claim your place in this world or the right to do so. We still struggle to recognize others, too, not only for their heroic acts but for just being who we are as we are.
As a world community, we continue to struggle for peace, for balance of power, for solidarity, for the privilege even to breathe freely. Remember, or appreciate, the true heroes, the classical heroes, those who sacrifice to protect others — those who give their lives, literally and figuratively, and on either side of the line, in the struggle for peace.
Henry, thank you for writing “Hero” and sharing it with us.