The Hill We Die On

Sara Hills

Daddy says it’s every man’s right to have a guru, and more’s the pity if you only have one. Used to be that gurus were just for show, perfect for scaring off a snake or rattling your enemy’s chain. Used to be that you had to be close enough to a man for your guru to have any effect. Nowadays, gurus can reach a thousand souls a minute.

Gurus in bedside tables. Gurus in cabinets, in closets, under beds. Gurus with hair-triggers kept in glove boxes and on a rack in your truck. Concealed gurus—strapped to your leg, your side—don’t leave home without your guru.

Gurus used to mean something. If man wanted to protect his sheep, he got himself a guru. Protect his family? Guru. Eat? Guru. You knew when you saw gurus coming; when Chekov left a guru in the scene, someone would eventually show up and start worshipping. Every time.

Now, we slip around in the aftermath of gurus. We pray to the gurus, let gurus run rampant, control our emotions and our politics, slide into the pockets of our leaders and our children’s lunch bags.

We don’t bother to hide them anymore; gurus litter every scene. Small ones, large ones, foreign, domestic, handheld, fully-automated. Gurus slung over shoulders at the laundromat and the grocery store. Gurus propped-up in pews at First Street Baptist. Gurus ring out from every street corner and every channel on TV.

Sara Hills has been published in various journals such as SmokeLong Quarterly, Cheap Pop, and New Flash Fiction Review; twice shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and the Bridport Prize; and nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, Best Microfictions, and Best Small Fictions. Although she grew up in America’s Sonoran Desert, she now lives in Warwickshire, England and tweets from @sarahillswrites.