Hania started to walk through the crowded streets, her bag starting to sag by her side. It contained only the essentials for life on the run - some food, money, stationary in case she needed to contact anyone, and a small dagger with the inscription sangvis aqvā densior est. Blood is thicker than water.
It was a phrase that had defined Hania’s life for so long, on a weapon that had meant so much to her. At first, Hania hadn't wanted to bring along her dagger, but the more she thought about it, the more she realized she needed it. She realized that without it, she would be powerless, both physically without a way to protect herself, and emotionally without her crutch. Something to lean on to when she needed it. Something to remind her of everything she was leaving behind.
The dagger had been Hania’s father’s before her, and her grandfather’s before him. It had been passed down after so many years, with a true connection to her family. The knife had never been held in the hands of anyone who wasn't within her bloodline.
Hania remembered when she had first been given the knife. He handed it to her with his rough and calloused hands, the same hands that had swung swords and scythes, strung bows and held even the smallest of knives, like the dagger she held in her bag. They were experienced hands, holding something so miniscule in comparison to the broadswords he chose over it.
“Take this, Hani,” he had said, all those years ago. “I have no use for it now. Take it, and learn to fight.”
And so Hania fought. She fought and she fought, until she had no one left to beat. She fought against her brother, her sister, her mother, but never her father, for he was the one who had handed her the dagger. He was the one who had passed it down to the next generation. Her elder, but more than that. Her superior. Her father.
And she wouldn’t dare sever that bond, especially not with a weapon so sacred to her family. It was against all the dagger stood for.
But that was before everything changed before her mother told her the truth about her sister. Not Sukhan, the younger one, but Amani. The older one.
The one she had never heard of.
She remembered standing in the doorway as she watched her mother crying at night, holding the dagger. Looking at it’s beautiful handwritten engravings - sangvis aqvā densior est. Blood is thicker than water.
“Amani,” her mother whispered. “Oh, Amani. I’m so sorry.”
“Mama, what’s wrong?” she remembered saying, a twinkle of fear in her eyes.
And her mother explained it all to her through tears. How sorry she was, how she wanted to tell Hania for so long, how it just had spilled out of her right there and then. How Amani was killed before her very own eyes, and how much it hurt to see. The agony she felt in that moment combined with the fear she held deep inside of her heart.
And then Hania remembered. She remembered Amani’s smile, from way back when she was a child. She remembered the way she laughed and her way her eyes lit up like embers of a dying fire.
But memories would never save her.
Hania thought again of her father, who had given her the dagger, and how it wasn’t hers any longer. How it was wrong for her to have it, how she wasn’t the first born child. How it was really Amani’s, and how her father had betrayed the family in giving it to her.
And so she fought him. She fought him for turning her sister in and causing the death of those ember eyes she had once found hope in. She fought him for not telling her about this missing piece of her life. She fought him for giving her the dagger, and betraying all it stood for.
And in doing so, she did, as well.
Sangvis aqvā densior est. Blood is thicker than water. Family means more than the law. And yet, her father still turned Amani in.
And yet, Hania still fought against him.
They both were wrong in what they did, but at least Hania could make things right. She could run away and distance herself from her family forever. Even though she still loved them - her mother, her siblings, and even her father despite all he did and all she did, she still loved them all.
And so Hania ran, while the night was still young, the stars twinkling in the skies above with the full moon accompanying them, watching her travel as far as she could. She ran and she ran, until she found herself at the train station, paying for a ticket to the far countryside. Where she could finally be free of all that troubled her - where she could forget about her mother’s tears and her sister’s shining ember eyes.
Hania’s bag started to sag further down her waist as the train rocked to and fro, her seat’s violent shaking coming to an abrupt stop as the engineer called for her stop. Hania was shaking herself as she stood up, her hands barely holding onto the railings. Somehow, she got herself off the train and far out of the train station before collapsing onto the grass, tears dripping from her eyes. She cried and she cried, like her mother had so long ago, remembering her family that she’d left behind. It had barely been a day since she left, and a week since she fought her father, but it felt like years in her mind, each second passing by like a whisper in the chilly air.
Hania’s breathing grew closer together, and she remembered her family. She knew why she was doing this - how she had to to restore herself - but she just couldn’t stand it. She missed what she remembered of her sister, but she loved the rest of her family, too.
“You’re doing this for Amani,” Hania whispered to herself. “Get through this. You need to do this for Amani.”
Hania opened up her bag, as it sagged further down after her running from the train. She stared at the bronze dagger, it’s golden surface reflecting the tears in her eyes.
She read the inscription again, thinking about her family. Thinking about how she needed to forget them in order to start a new life.
Blood is thicker than water. But without either, Hania could finally be free.
Hania produced a lighter from her bag, and started a quick fire. Without regret, she tossed in the bronze dagger, watching the reflection of her tears melt into the golden embers of the dying flame, like her sister’s eyes so long ago.