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Drama Suspense Sad

My tired eyes were burning as sweat ran down my face. I felt my heart pumping loudly in my chest. My breath was shallow and harsh. My lungs hurt with every breath I took. The air was hot, and felt hostile, poisonous. I was overcome with fear, pure unadulterated fear. It was the kind of fear you felt when you knew your life was about to change for the worst. Few people knew this kind of fear, and I envied all who didn't.

My hands were shaking and they felt foreign and clumsy as I clung to my camera. The scene before me felt unreal like a bad dream I would wake from at any moment. I wasn't looking for this. I told myself this, but I knew it wasn't the truth. The crossroads of my life had brought me here out of my own choosing. Now I had a choice to make.

I had to admit I wanted adventure, thrills, and excitement when I left Kenya. Nature photography paid the bills, but every photo of a lioness creeping up on unsuspecting deer seemed so much like the one I took the day before. Pictures of wildlife never made it to the frontpages. Animals never offered enough value to be displayed as big news. I wanted to feel alive. I burned to feel an element of the unknown, danger even. Sudan appealed to me. It lured me with stories of conflict and depression. There would be many pictures that could tell frightening tales there. People loved the darkness that brewed there.

I allowed myself to dream of the possibilities it could offer me.

High class people could place the newspaper out of sight while having their high afternoon tea, but they would snatch it up again later once their guests have left and, yes, they would be enticed by the horrific stories these pictures told, my name in bold letters printed proudly below them. Men who met each other weekly at the barbers would chat about the images I had brought into their lives. Mothers in doctors' offices would tell their children to keep their eyes low and avoid looking at the shelves where the papers were displayed. How I longed to be a household name. This would be my chance. I would do what it took to make it happen. Decided, I started reading up on how exactly to get into Sudan.

Time seemed to slow down, stop in fact, as I watched the figures in front of me. Unaware of my presence, the rebel threw the man to the ground. I realized this wasn't a man sobbing in the dirt, but merely a child , sixteen years old at most. He didn't deserve his young life to be cut short this cruel way. The rebel looked at him with such a hatred and disgust in his eyes that I knew this boy wouldn't get to rise from the dirt today, not unless there was an intervention.

Making a decision is a strange process. You always think you'd know what to do. You assume you'd do the right thing, don't you? We all keep our heads high believing that if ever faced with a life-or-death situation that we'd do the right thing. Let me tell you, swallow your pride, my friend, because when that moment comes, it's not so clear at all. Right and wrong become blurred lines.

A fly calmly walked over my righthand. Its confidence seemed to taunt me. My tongue felt fat and dry in my mouth. My head throbbed and my muscles ached. My entire body begged for a release from this tension that these last few moments brought. I was faced with a choice: Take the shot or interrupt. It was simple. A or B. Taking the shot would mean millions of dollars and the lifestyle of the rich and famous. I would be THAT person until someone new came along. I could interrupt the assault that was taking place in front of me. I could tell the rebel to stop. What good would that do? I would be a hero for a minute. Then the rebel would shoot me and shoot the young boy anyway. I'd be a hero to the young man only until he ate a bullet. Other than that no-one would be the wiser. People wouldn't know my name. My photos would never reach the front page.

The boy was crying loudly now. Begging in a language that I didn't understand. His final words fell only on the ears of someone who hated him so deeply. I refused to think of his mother. I refused to think of the sadness that would consume her when she heard of her young son's death. I refused to think of what this boy looked like when he was happy, smiling and laughing while playing with siblings and friends.

Just like the deer I had seen several times being preyed upon by lionesses, this boy's time had run out. Mere seconds remained. I had never interfered with the wild in Kenya. Animals needed to be left to their wild urges. Nature had to run its course, always. It's an unwritten rule. This boy before me, however, wasn't an animal trying to escape a predator on the Serengeti. He was human, and that justified interference, but at what cost to me?

I closed my eyes and said a quick prayer. A prayer to a God that I wasn't sure was here, in this forsaken place and with a small sob, I reacted.

My camera felt heavy when I got back to London. It seemed to cut into my neck, weighed with guilt. My conscience had manifested itself in the object that carried the proof that it was rotten. This was my last photo, I knew that the second I took the shot. I would be famous for a while. People would know my name, but my life ended in Sudan. My life ended with that final shot.

May 24, 2021 13:50

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