Two rows of terrified youth, each plastered, clingingly, to the fences on opposite sides of the tennis court. 16 bouncing 4-square balls. 16 times times 20 opponents per side: the numbers were staggering. The odds of being struck by lightning paled in comparison. You could win lotto 35 goddamn times before you'd escape a barrage like this.

And someone said "GO!"

They raced to the balls, grabbing all the resources they could muster for their side, hoarding the ammunition. When one side has only 3 balls, it's much easier to keep track of who's hunting you.

Her side had 11...

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They were listening. From somewhere distant, came the familiar sounds of gunshots, stone-throwing, angry slogans. But here it was quiet- deserted streets, shut down shops, boarded windows and houses so dead that they wouldn't be out of place in a graveyard.It was safe to be here. Nobody would mind, nobody would bother. They flitted out in the glorious sunshine of a bright day, trying to ignore the smell of dried blood mingled with the fragrance of the lake, the trees and the mountains. The pigeons of Srinagar were not worried about the curfew.

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Tears dripped down her cheeks. She was alone. Finally, sadly, happily alone.

Her husband was searching for her. She prayed that he would not find her. She had managed to escape her home while he searched for weapons to use against her. When he stomped towards the kitchen, dripping angry sweat and hurling abuse, she thought of the knives.

She didn't remember how she got between her home and the doorway. All she knew was that she was safe, for the time being.

Where next? She had no family. Her friends were his friends or the wives of his friends....

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