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From the Heart

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The Darkest Place
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I do not have a voice

Annabella

I had been there just two days and had barely had time to find out my role. I was full of ideas of what I was going to do; however, after seeing her surrounded by all the atrocities, I could not help thinking to myself, “what the hell am I doing here?”

I sat watching her for ages, trying to work out what she must be thinking in her tiny little mind. I wanted to know more about her, about her life before the war. She was a sweet little thing, about five or six years old, thin as a beanstalk and very frail, her big blue eyes staring at me like dark, shimmering pools. The village was surrounded by the sound of gunfire; every breath filled with choking dust from the fallout of the bombs.

She came up to me and told me, “My dog has been killed, you know.” It had been buried in the rubble when the first bomb had struck; yet, she showed no emotion. She just carried on playing in the mounds of rubble, as if unaware of the chaos that surrounded her, as if she was shutting it away, out of her mind.

I heard her mother calling her from across the way, “Annabella, you must come now, it’s too dangerous out there.” She was very thin and pale; her eyes were dark and had grey circles round them. She wore a woollen scarf over her head and a shabby grey skirt down to her ankles. On her feet, she wore rags, bound round like bandages. However, despite all this, I thought how beautiful she was. The little girl looked up at me and smiled, “I have to go now, but never mind.” She skipped happily over to her mum, then turned back to me, smiling, waving goodbye.

Moments later a missile flew overhead, striking the area behind them. I threw myself to the ground just before it exploded, shielding my head with my hands clenched tightly together like a helmet. I lay there for a while, stunned by the blast, wondering if I would be safe to get up again. When I raised my head, all I could see was dust and rubble; I could see no sign of the little girl or her mother.

Everywhere was quiet; motionless, then I heard a tiny voice whimpering amongst the pile of debris. I scurried over to where it was coming from and began to dig with my bare hands. Moving boulders and scraping away the dusty residue, until my hands were raw. I finally found them, the little girl and her mother. As I turned the woman’s body over, her eyes were staring at me, cold, dark, dead. The little girl, Annabella, lay with blood running from her nose, tears streaming from her eyes. She kept screaming, “Mummy, mummy, mummy!” It was all I could do to scoop her up like a rag doll and run. I ran to the hospital, which had managed so far to evade being struck. The nurse came and took her from me, then asked me questions about her, but all I could tell her was what I had learnt that day. I walked out of the hospital, my head hanging low and tears running down my face.

Walking down the street, the little girl and the whole damned war were deep in my mind. Would she die in this horrible place; or would she manage to evade the bombs, the gun- fire that was echoing from deep in the mountains? Would I ever meet her again?

 

I returned home a few days later, the pressure having got to me already. I would often sit wondering what had become of the little girl, Annabella. My mind would wander, no matter where I was or what I was doing; she was never far from my thoughts.