by Bella M., 17
I see bombs away. Rubble. Dogs gone. People hide away. Locked down below. People merge with the concrete. Their voices jump like rabbits. Tanks gargle bodies. Land cracked. The mind bends the ear and stretches the sinews. Gargled sobs of terror. The ground has emptied into the air.
A bubbling flame climbs up apartment walls. High-rise windows burst into flame. Flames scurry through the interiors. Stray sparks. It all merges together. Jumbled but contained, a portrait of a normal life gone horribly wrong. Sirens going off. Tanks squeak. Land empty. Footfalls pounding. The ground up ahead lies dirty. Small bodies. Little children. Some rotted away. Some pulled from each other. The flames grow into a human canvas. A tapestry of undressed people. Some still with hands. Some with arms. Some legs. Some crying. The voice of a father, deep dark in a heavy layer of dust. Voices screech in the wind.
I don’t understand why this is happening? Why would someone choose to do this? Are they really that sick? I feel like throwing up as I shiver in the corner of my apartment. I truly don’t get it. It doesn’t feel real. I pray it’s not real. Everything on fire. Leaking. The floors look scorched. Blowing up. Furniture peeling. It’s so cruel. My bare feet charred like rotten flesh. From a bird’s eye view, the snow glitters like tin foil. But above the snow lies, bodies, rubble and ash. I have to get out of here.
I need to head to the subway. I race down the stairs of my apartment, sounds of shrieks and bombs following me. I make it outside and dash through the streets. Fear rips through me as I do my best to run from it. It follows me across the town. The cars and windows explode behind me. The footfalls slow as I start to cry. Tears explode in the wind. They rain in my mouth.
Burning shoes crunch around me. I must find the stairs to the subway. I must get to the subway. I must get to the subway. I see the subway sign a few meters ahead. I almost collapse once I reach the entrance of the subway station. A man out front quickly catches me. He carries me into the station. We make our way down the stairs. The sounds above are muffled. The air is unworldly. We slow down. We see passengers coming towards us.
Daylight creeps in between the gaps in the concrete. I look straight on to see what must be at least a thousand people, huddled together, on the subway floor. The few people that are making their way towards us stop a few feet away. They usher us forward. I look around me. I don’t feel real. I don’t feel there.
A man passes me a piece of bread. I grasp it with shaky hands. I just need to get to sleep. My feet are too heavy, my head too light. I pass a mother holding a crying baby. A father and son walking side by side. A shivering old woman. A shaking boy. I collapse onto the concrete. My hand tightening around the piece of bread. I shove it into my mouth. Tears fall down my cheeks again. My eyes flutter shut. My whole body is cold and clammy. I hear footsteps on the earth above me. They tickle the bricks. It’s the same footsteps that led me here.
The man from outside brushes against me. I give him the small pieces of bread that I have left in my hand. He thanks me and takes them. I sigh. My back falls onto the concrete. I don’t care that it is filthy. There is far worse to worry about. My breathing slows. My eyes trace the cracks in the ceiling. My hands trace the buttons on my jacket. My body calms but my thoughts are restless.
I see bombs away. Rubble. Dogs gone. People hide away. Locked down below. People merge with the concrete. Their voices jump like rabbits. Tanks gargle bodies. Land cracked. The mind bends the ear and stretches the sinews. Gargled sobs of terror. How is our world capable of such atrocities?
Notes from our interns on selecting this piece: I selected this piece because I think it encapsulates what is currently going on in our world at the moment with the Ukraine, but can relate to the stories of many refugees during war. I think this captures the setting, emotions, and experiences one undergoes during these situations perfectly. The rushed pacing and fragmented sentences in the story work and emulate what the person is feeling and seeing at this moment. I love when pieces give insight into a person’s world and this one does just that!