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Historical Fiction

Blood. Gushing down my finger in streams of red, the blood from a wound the window gave me served as a reminder of why I was here. The window had reprimanded me after I’d risked my life to find my father and my brothers. Foolish… it seemed to whisper. Unsafe… go home…

And it spoke the truth. A child shouldn’t have to fear being beaten just because of her religion. A child shouldn’t have to find shopping a life-threatening activity. Alas, I found myself ignoring the window’s warnings because, how could I care about myself when Father, and my brothers were imprisoned somewhere, all alone? They were my reason to live; I swore that I would never let death claim me, because my family would shatter if they lost me and I couldn’t bear to torture them like that. 

Warm blood coated my palm. The pain of the cut should’ve been agonizing, but I wasn’t at all concerned for my physical state. I only longed to see my family's faces… 

My mind flashed back to the Saturday when our lives were changed forever. We had finished a family dinner, and I sat down on the couch with my mother, father, and 2 brothers. A normal night. Little did I know that would be the last family dinner I'd have. I glanced at the door and my eyes widened. I stared, petrified, as I saw two menacing, murky figures behind our glass door. Then the knocks came.

This was the first time my father's visage fluttered with fear. Although brief, his eyes gleamed with unspoken worries. He erased any trace of fear in the blink of a eye. Father had to be brave for me, for my brothers. Slowly, he rose from his chair, his hands ever so slightly trembling, and walked towards the door. Time seemed to move in slow motion as the door opened. Standing on our porch were two police officers.

"No!" my mother shouted.

"SHUT UP, FILTHY SCUM!" an officer screeched.

I gasped. My father turned towards my mother.

"It's alright, dear."

"COME WITH US!" another officer commanded.

"Officer, may I please have an explana-"

"BE QUIET!" he snarled.

"Officer, if I may, what is the reason for my arrest?"

"Your kind deserve to be locked up in a cell, slowly rotting away for the rest of your lives," the officer spat, a sick sort of pleasure in his expression.

"That is an incredibly offensive generalization. If there isn't a valid reason, then it is assumed that I did nothing wrong. Goodbye," my father said, and began to close the door.

CRASH!

Suddenly, the door was shattered, broken by their weapons. Wood flew everywhere. My head throbbed as I tried to comprehend what was going on. Door. Broken. Mother, sobbing. The world was a blurry haze. Voices were overlapped. Screams were heard, but I didn't know if they were my own. It was too much. Too overwhelming.

Reality came crashing down on me when I came across a spot of red on the carpet. Blood.

I could only stare, frozen in place, as I saw my father unconscious on the floor, blood trickling from his nose.

"FATHER!" I cried out. One of the officers looked at me with a oily smile on his face that dripped with vile glee.

"GET ALL THE MEN!" he shouted, his voice boring into my mind, carving into the deep nooks of my brain. I'll never forget the expression of sadistic victory etched across his face.

"NO! GET AWAY FROM US!" my mother shouted. The other officer marched up to her and slapped her, pushing her to the ground.

"Shut up woman," he growled. Rage coursed through my veins, but I didn't know what I could do. Me, Anna, just a 13 year old girl girl against 2 burly officers that knocked my father out. My father, the strongest man I knew. I didn't want to end up like him so I stayed silent, tears streaming down my face.

"Please. PLEASE! NO!" my mother shouted, as the officer who hit her ran upstairs. he room seemed to spin. My brothers were hiding upstairs.

CRASH!

Screams of agony were heard as another door was blasted open and my brothers were dragged down the stairs.

"LET GO OF US" my brothers shouted, but they were both clocked in the head. I screamed as they slumped forward, held on either side of the officer.

My mother and I could only watch as my brothers and father were dragged out the door.

____

For 2 years I relentlessly roamed the streets, hoping to find where my relatives were being held. There were numerous prisons in our area, as our town had built quite an infamous reputation for itself. Any attempt to illegally access the prison, though, would lead to my execution. Oh, if it meant I could see my father and brothers one last time...

I shook off the thought. Mother needed me. I couldn't let her lose me too. My father and brothers needed me...

Mother bought food and set the table every day, as if my father and brothers would somehow join us. She hadn't uttered a single word since the day our lives were torn apart. But tonight was different. Mother whimpered and slipped me an envelope.

"What's this?" I questioned.

"L-letter. For you, Anna" mother said, pointing at me.

I carefully tore the seal, slipping the yellowed paper out. The only words scribbled onto the tiny sheet were "Verhaftet Eastern Prison".

I looked at Mother. Her eyes widened as she read the letter and she whispered,

"Go. They are there. GO."

"Mother you can't possibly mean..."

"Anna, I am too frail to do this. You go, and f-find your father and brothers. You father wrote this..."

"But why today? Why after 2 years?"

"Mail has been slow, dear. Your father also needed to be extremely careful...he has finally managed to alert us..."

I nodded, and set off upstairs to pack some supplies.

"Goodbye, mother." I said, and slipped out the door into the ominously silent night ahead.

____


Surreal. That was the only way I could explain what I was feeling. 2 years. After 2 years...I finally caught a glimpse of my father and brothers, sleeping on the cold, stone floor. It was a miracle I hadn't been caught yet! It was a dream come true. I was too much of a coward previously to attempt the break in. But this time, something about my mother's urgent expression, like she was on the verge of crumbling, caused me to make my resolve. I would do this. I would find my brothers and father, and report to my mother. It would give us both piece of mind. I cautiously crept towards the steel bars, clasping my fingers around them. I was so, so close. Suddenly, I tripped on a rock and lost my balance, grasping onto the steel bars, pursing my lips to avoid crying out.

SLASH!

A rough edge on the steel bars had sliced my palm, and my blood was dripping onto the floor. Panic built up inside me. Was this a warning? Should I turn back?

That's when I saw him. All the pain in my palm vanished as I locked eyes with my father.

My heart cracked in half as I saw the lines of worry etched on his face. Worry for me, for my mother.

"Anna?! No, please..go back darling...please...don't get caught. We're doing fine, your brothers and I. Please, Anna, go back...I can't lose you too..."

Father continued protesting my presence, urging me to return to safety. However, his protests were contrasted by the whirlpool of emotions swirling through his eyes. 

At the very bottom of his eyes, there was a glint of hope and gratefulness that I’d found them. There was love. Father and my brothers' lives were a cloth that was forcefully unraveled, with only a single string left— the thought of return to their loved ones. Every single day for 2 years they worried profusely about my mother and I, as we had for them. We held on, for each other, even if worry was driving us insane...none of us wanted to shatter the other with our demise.

My father once told me that his children were the jewels to his crown. He cherished each moment with his wife and children. My brothers and I were carefree and silly, bounded by familial love. We were all like chain links, holding onto each other. Now, the universe has asked me to return the favor, to love and take care of my family like they’d once loved and taken care of me when I was an innocent child awaiting my fate. We each had to be brave for the others' sake, and it paid off. Father and my brothers were alive, and I was here. We were reunited.

July 13, 2023 05:53

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