Our nation expected, no, anticipated war. But no man could predict chaos such as this. We watch helplessly as men, women and children fall like soldiers on the frontline. We watch as our government, our protectors, destroy our homes and buildings crumble and burn until they are nothing but rubble.
"Kayla, I'm scared,"
"Hush Florence, it's okay. I'll never let you go," I whisper into Florence's ear as she cries silently into my shoulder. I feel her flinch as yet another bomb goes off at a dangerously close distance to our house. She lets out a small cry and I pull her closer to me. We sit, curled up in the bottom floor of our house, anxiously awaiting our mother's return. Deep inside we both know this impossible, but we do not want to face the ugly truth. I've pulled the curtains over the windows to spare at least her eyes from the horrifying sights lurking just outside.
Even I am on the verge of tears, but I promised mother I would be strong for little Florence, Florence whom I love dearly and unconditionally, Florence who is merely five, born into this awful war.
"Tomorrow will be kinder," I tell her and she offers me a watery smile that soon fades as another bomb hits even closer to our home and Florence's screams. I hush her and cradle her to my chest, nuzzling against the top of her head. The curtain rail falls from the window with a loud crash and the light of the surrounding flames light up our living room. Kayla lifts her head to peer out but I quickly bury it back into my clothing, "Don't you dare look out your window, darlin'" I tell her firmly but soothingly. Everything's on fire, and the war outside our door keeps raging on. I begin to hum into her ear, a song we both know. It stops her cries, at least for a while.
A loud rap at the door startles us both. It startles me enough that I loosen my grip on Florence momentarily and she rises,
"Mommy!" she squeals with joy as she rushes towards the door and I panick,
"Florence, stop!" I scream at her, but she's already frozen as another rap is heard followed by gunshots. Florence's previously joyful expression fades and converts into one of pure terror. I waste no time. Grabbing Florence's hand, I pull her to the staircase and push her up, following her quickly. I hear them slamming against the door now, trying to break it down. Florence understands she must now be quiet but it's too late, they know we're here. Reaching our shared room, I place Florence onto the bed and tuck her in. I stroke her hair lovingly as the tears begin to fall from her face and my own. I allow them to drip down onto the bed sheets, "It's fine," I whisper, "I won't let anything happen to you. . ."
As I hear the front door crash down, I realise our deaths are imminent. With a shaking hand, I take a handful of berries from my pocket and place them in Florence's own, "Fl-Florence. . . I need you to eat these," I tell her, pushing hair from her face and kissing her forehead. Her lips tremble and she clutches her palm together, not wanting to, "Eat them goddamit!" I scream, beginning to sob and cry, burying my face in my hands. Florence raises her own hand and moves mine from my face. I see her smile at me and sniff as tears trickle down her soft cheeks. She raises the berries to her mouth and places some in, chewing and swallowing them quickly,
"Thank you. . ." I whisper to her lovingly. She glances over my shoulder as she hears noise coming from the staircase, but I smile, drawing her attention back to me and I sing sweetly,
Just close your eyes. . . The Sun is going down,
I watch as my sister's eyes begin to flutter and she struggles to keep them open. Feeling the tears well up again, I blink them away. They eventually close, but I continue to sing in the hopes that she will still hear me,
You'll be alright. . . No one can hurt you now
The door behind me crashes down but I don't even turn to face the terrifying sights I will meet if I do,
Come morning light,
You and I'll be
I lean in and whisper one final farewell to my beautiful little sister and kiss her cheek delicately.
With my eyes tightly closed, I await my inescapable fate. The last thing I hear are the fatal sound of a gunshot.