Where They Cried

Papa grew hard and lean that summer. His face became a thing of angles and relief. His blue face and white beard grew rugged.

La, la, la la la la . . .

Gargamel was the one who found the gold in their mountains; and because the gold was there, the People had to move. It was as simple as that. They fought him, they fought him with the law and with alchemy and in the end with spunk. But greed was stronger.

In the summer, they came, and rounded the People into shoeboxes, and then began the march.

“We should fight,” Hefty said. “We should stand up to them.”

“We’re three apples high,” Papa said. His face was tired. He’d been up seven nights running trying to find an answer. Trying to make a potion or a spell to hold the army back. But he couldn’t. When they’d come to the little mushroom village of the People, one of the soldiers had dangled him by the cap and shaken him until blood ran from his eyes.

So they began their march.

La, la la, la la . . .

“Are we there yet?” Brainy asked.

“No,” Papa said. There were still nine hundred and ninety eight miles to go.

“I want to sleep,” Lazy said.

“They’ll kill you,” Papa said.

“I could give them a gift-wrapped package,” Jokey offered, “that would explode, killing their regiment.”

“And then what?”

“We smurf Washington. We smurf the President. We smurf them all.”

“Smurfing never solved anything,” Papa said, and walked on. The feet of his white trousers were turning red.

“This is awful,” said Starving.

Papa turned. “I don’t recognize you,” he said.

“We’re new,” Diseased said.

It gives me great pleasure to announce to Congress that the benevolent policy of the government, steady pursued for nearly thirty years, . . . is approaching to a happy consummation.
— Andrew Jackson.

Smurfette was not the first to die, nor was she the last.

“This marks the end of us,” Papa said, as he looked at her body. It was withered and thin.

A soldier knelt down and prodded him with a finger. “Move on, gnome. Move on. She’s just a chit of a girl.”

So they left her there, to rot in the sun.

“Why is this happening, Papa?” asked Brainy. He coughed. He’d caught a lung contagion from Diseased, and it was ravishing him.

“Because we’re just a show,” Papa said. “Rumors and pictures from far away. It’s only the people actually here who have to watch us die.”

They marched on.

“They don’t think it’s horrible,” he said.

They slept in silence that night, save when Brainy coughed up his blood.

“We’re only smurfs.”

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