Dawn Lloyd’s story “The Last Duty” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 16 August 2019.
I wrote this story when I was teaching at the American University of Afghanistan. When I first moved to Kabul, I was fortunate that a guard at the bombed out Darul Aman Palace accepted a “tip” to let a group of us inside. I remember one particular guard who followed us around whistling and watching to make sure we didn’t go to areas that were so unstable that there was a risk of the roof falling on us. Eventually, the guard’s commanding officer came back and told us we weren’t allowed to be there. He wasn’t inclined to accept a tip to let us stay, either. I lived there for eight years, and every day I looked out my window at the shell of the palace. It was too stark a sight not to ever use in a story.
Sometime around then, when home in the US, I went to the big city 4th of July fireworks. I didn’t want to pay to go down close, so I watched them through a chain link fence. Watching the fireworks through a fence led me to wondering what it would feel like for any British loyalists or soldiers to watch the celebrations at the end of the Revolutionary War from less than ideal circumstances. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write, but I knew I had to write something with that theme.
The Darul Aman Palace finally merged with the theme of a fallen ruler watching his people celebrate his demise, and “The Last Duty” is what came of it.
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