We make our way through mounds of blood and dirt. Every step we take seems to take longer than the last one. The younger children behind me begin to waver. They don’t cry anymore because they don’t have the strength to, and neither do I. But it seems that the sky is kind to us, because it lets the rain run down our cheeks, so they become our tears. A child up ahead falls; we leave him behind because we know he’ll just slow us down.
The March to Sleep
I cast a passing glance at the child once I’m near him. He’s so covered in mud I can’t tell whether his skin is brown or black because his face is too dirty to see. We pay him no mind and continue on our single file march. Just as the march continues, so does the rain. The dirt is becoming heavier and heavier, sticking between my toes. At this point it’s taking more work to drudge through than to lift my entire leg up.
I keep staring down at the ground. I don’t know why it just seems to be the natural way to look. Suddenly, I hear a sound, a loud one too. Looking up I see two big headlights piercing the heavy downpour of rain that had blocked our sight. I think it’s a Jeep; yeah, probably a Jeep. The wheels skid on the muddied ground beside us, spraying us one at a time. Most of us don’tcare. That mud was going to find us one way or another. As the Jeep passes by, I get a quick glance at who was inside. It’s just some soldiers, probably off on their way to the town we had left, trying to take it back for us. But itdoesn’t matter; we had seen what those other men were capable of.
The day was like any other day. We were outside playing in the dried up olive grovefields when I heard my mother call my name. It was around noon, so I guessed lunch was ready. As I ran towards her, I started to hear a weird noise, kind oflike a whistle, so I looked left and right but couldn’t find anybody whistling.The next thing I knew, my entire body had flown at least 20 feet from where I had stood. My ears began to ring and all I could hear were the vibrations around me. It took me a moment to realize what had happened, and when I did; my first thought was of my mother. “Ommah! Ommah! Ommah!” Tears began rolling down the sides of my face.
But my sadness was short-lived, because my body had again flown at least 30 feet to myleft. I was quicker to get up this time; I observed the terrain around me. The dust was clouding my vision, and the rubble made my eyes sting. Then, through the huge clouds of dust and smoke, I heard my name being called, “Amir! Amir!”
I yelled back, “Ommah! Ommah!” Out of nowhere, two big arms grabbed me from behind; I couldn’t see his face but I wasn’t worried, because I recognized his salty smell. It was my father. “Baba!”I cried.
Baba held me tight. His arm hair tickled my nose and it was the only thing keeping me from panicking at this point. Baba is very strong; he lifted me with one arm and ran a long distance before putting me down. His breathing was really heavy and raspy when he spoke. He told me that I needed to leave; I needed to go with other children and find safety in the city. There I would meet the authorities and they would save us. I begged Baba to come with me, saying that I needed him. Baba shook his head and said he needed to find my Ommah; he told me that he would be here when I got back. Hope had now entered my mind; I was determined to save Ommah and Baba, just like a hero would.
Baba pointed to the hill where we would have our picnics. He said I needed to climb over it and run as fast as I could; there I would meet with all of the other children. I nodded and did just as he said. As I ran, pieces of dried up olive branches splintered my feet, leaving a trail of blood from where my Baba and Istood.
When I reached the top of the cliff, I looked back to see what kind of state my home was in. It was horrible. Smoke had filled the air above it, houses were ablaze, men and women alike were screaming. I could hear some words but I was too faraway to make them out. But I knew I couldn’t afford to worry, because Ommah and Baba were waiting for me to save them. I turned my back and said goodbye to my home for now.
But that was just two days ago. I’m still hopeful for Baba and Ommah; I know they’re alive because Baba promised me, and Baba always told me that to break apromise means to break a friendship and to break a friendship means to be dead to that person. The mud I have in my mouth is bitter and gritty.
Another Jeep passes by us. This time it was bigger and has at least a couple dozen men on board. I think they are from the United States of America based on how tan and red they were. An hour passes before we see another Jeep come towards us, but this one is different. This one stops. The men who get out have little suitcases on them. They run towards us and yell for us to stay where we are; they will help us. I feel so relieved. At last someone has come to save us; at last our long march is over, at last we can rest; however, my hopes are dashed when the men quickly get back into their vehicles only after looking at the small children. They tell us to keep walking for another hour or so.
We continue our march like the men had said, but they are wrong. The hour theytold us to walk has turned into a day. There are less than half of us now. Only the bigger children and some lucky small children continue to walk. I am so tired; my head begins to feel hot and spin in both directions, my legs might as well be lead. My vision is starting to blur, the color black is filling the corners of my eyes. Sleep is offering me to come join her in her soft bosom. For a moment, I almost give into my temptation, but I know my Baba and Ommah need me to help them; I know I am their hero, and they need me to keep walking.
As more time passes, the pain I feel in my legs begins to disappear. They aren’t lead anymore and my sight isn’t clouded by darkness. For some funny reason though,everyone walking has turned sideways. The mud feels nice. It is cooling the right side of my face. Then, I realize something; this is it. I had reached it; I had finally reached it, the place where I could rest.