Tell A Tale in 500 Words

She is a Child By Eve Naden

She is a child.

She is running. The air is choked with ashen smoke, the sky a pocket of mottled blue. Around her, the world seems to move like clockwork: ticking and chiming with gunfire, with screaming. She slips across the fray, feet churning on the broken glass that cuts into her toes. She does not feel the blood. Feel its soggy warmth flow slick across her skin. She has too many injuries to care. It is dark and the only sound is the ricochet of the bullets as they whip blindly past. She does not look back. She runs, keeps running; for she knows she has no other choice. But to run.

Later she will realise that the running was all for nought.

That it was only the brazen hope that she’d see her mother again that kept her going.

Why? What did we do to deserve this? What did any of us do?

Her running footsteps cease. Voices shriek with fear, but no one notices her stop. She can’t believe she’d ever imagined seeing her mother again. She can’t believe she’d ever sought out a new way of living. The blast is a slow, moaning thing, like a dying sea creature as it dragged from its home. It is too sudden however, too quick.

She dies.

Buried in the rubble of the lost…But what if?

What if it all stops? What if the serration of screeching, the whorls of blood stop? What if they all stop? What if the girl is still running, her heart tightening in her chest, lungs burning? Then a low rumble of trucks are heard. The girl stops, her strings of heartbeats skipping in time with the gunfire. The continuous gunfire. She is afraid. So afraid. Her hands clench into tiny fists: the only thing that quells the terror inside. She is strong. Skin like fever, she droops. Then her eyes raise, sifting through the smoke to find…To find a group of men and women, shouts all blurring together in a jumble of tones. Hands reach for her, lifting her, and carrying her limp body towards their cars. Safe. Relief. That is what she feels. What she hasn’t let herself feel in so long. What she’d tricked herself into believing once upon in time. Safe. Relief. Safe. Safe. She is finally-

What if. A dream, a pathetic hope in the dithering lives of the lost. Only what if? What if? It does not matter anymore. Even beyond all the hope, all the television broadcasts, all the half-hearted attempts to travel between boarders, to reach protectors who do not want them… It is all for nought. For she is a still a child. A child.

And between the interplay of gunfire, the mirth of the enemy, the refusal from the Europeans, she still dies.

Her hope doesn’t change a thing.

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