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It Was Always Temporary

by Chris Preston

About the Author: Chris Preston is a writer of fiction and creative non-fiction from Ontario, Canada. You can currently see work by Chris within Ash Tales, SERIAL magazine, and Asymmetry Fiction. To find out more, feel free to visit


Gnats, suicidal and smothering, swarm as dusk sets in. They’d left me alone when the sun was high, while I made my way through the bush and foliage from a neglected dock nearby. Now, they find me even high up and camouflaged in the forest.

During my younger years, I hated coming up North with the family in summer, because of how bad the bugs would get. And yet, here I am. At least I’m not that kid anymore, the one who’d spastically swat the air around me whenever the gnats would swarm. Not after the years of training. Of killing.

My eyes stay fixed on our old family cottage, waiting for movement. The sap on my fingers is finally flaking off as I absently pick at the pockets of my tactical vest for loose buckles and snaps.

Being in the family business, every task has always felt slightly personal, and this assignment is no different. While this is a target I should know so well, there are many ways he’s continued to be a stranger. I don’t know his kids, or what he does for a living now. Hell, I’ve barely seen him express a single emotion. We both were taught to shed feeling long ago but my anger still gets the better of me at times.

There, dead center of my binoculars. He emerges through the front door. Hello, brother, it’s been a while.

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