Chapter 1: Yuna
“NO!” I yell in a violent rage. “You will go to war OVER MY DEAD BODY!” Patrice looks at me. He is trying to look strong but I can feel him shaking on the inside.
“Yuna,” he says to me calmly, “It’s not your choice!” His voice is firm and I can tell that his mind is set but I’m not one to give up.
I curse at him in a mix of Japanese and French, “Bètè baka Nani no yaku ni mo tatanai frère!” He looks alarmed and steps back cautiously. “Calm down, Yuna I have to g-”
But I cut him off. “You will not go!” I wrestle him into a leg lock and refuse to let go.
“YUNA! Let gooooooooo!” but I don’t. He is wailing and begging by the time Mama walks in and pulls me off him. After I am scolded and Patrice is soothed, we are sent to our rooms. I am bubbling and seething with rage. I was the one who was supposed to go to war, not scrawny Patrice, no matter how strong-willed he is.
That night, my anger broke. I slipped a note of sorry under the door because I really am sorry. Sorry, that Patrice has to go to war, sorry, there isn’t anything I can do to help him. Sorry, he wound up with a girlfriend who right now is definitely with another man. But I didn’t say any of this, because I wasn’t the person who had to apologise for it. The note which was simple but sincere, had a sketch of our favourite tree that we went to when we felt down. Once, when I was 10, I got really angry and punched a boy named Zachary. I knew it was wrong but my only regret is not hitting him harder, that day. I was caned by the teacher 10 times on the hand, my palm was bleeding so badly. Patrice took me to our tree and bandaged it up for me then we sat and talked for hours until Papa came and made us have dinner. So now, in our darkest moment, I think it may change his mind about leaving. Perhaps he would stay, I think, as I crawl into my bed.
I was wrong. Completely wrong. I’m in his room. It is empty, nothing left behind, but his purposeful little charm of a cornflower is there. He must have left in the night.
Mama is weeping and Monic, his idiot girlfriend, is fussing distractedly, but I feel nothing but regret. I need to be alone for a second, so I go to the tree. My tree, our tree, not Monic’s, not Mama’s, and not anybody else’s, just ours.
I sat there for 2 days. Mama comes and goes with the little bread we have, but I don’t move, not until I desperately need to go find him. I sneak in through my bedroom window at 2 o’clock in the morning. I can’t face Mama. . . I don’t know if I will ever be able to. I grab my duffle bag and pack some clothes, money, and my knife. I then search Mama’s room, tiptoeing past her bed and grabbing what she calls her penknife. I grab some dry foods, then a water bottle and climb back out through the window. I pause, pondering where I should go. I decided to go to Monic’s.
I despise Monic, she is the human devil, and I am the only one who knows that she only dated Patrice because of pity and looking good to the community. She has been cheating on him with two other guys. . .TWO, yes, I know, crazy, so when I open the door to her house, (her parents let me in) I am not surprised to see her smooching with our neighbour Josh.
“Yunaaaaaa,” she begins sheepishly breaking away from Josh.
“Save it, I’ve known for a while,” I say, with a strong tone of disgust. I push Josh away, which makes him yelp like a hamster, and then I turn on Monic.
“Where is my brother?” I demand, whipping around glaring at the dumb blonde in the room.
“Why should I tell you?” Monic remarks smugly. I kick Josh in the shins, knocking him over until she yelps,
I inhale sharply and shudder. Quiet spreads across the room and Monic can feel it.
“Japan?” I mutter in disbelief
“Japan.” She confirms a.
Josh stands and says, “YUNA!? Why do you want to know? ” I jumped up on the window sill and glared down at them both.
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” I say sarcastically. And I leap out of the window onto the street below.
I run past the houses and smash the window of the closest car; my hand is bleeding but I don’t care, I know where Patrice is, now all I have to do is find him and bring him home, safely, as though nothing had ever happened. I unlock the door from the inside, slide in and close the door quietly. I stick my knife in the ignition and turn until the engine roars. I start up the stolen car and speed to the airport. I know I won’t be able to afford a ticket but I can try to sneak myself onto a cargo plane.
By the next morning, I’m on a cargo plane filled up with wine for the French soldiers on an island near Japan, don’t even ask me how much money I had to bribe the pilot with. The plane took off, my stomach lurched, our plane wobbled and shook. I clung to the side of the plane as it dropped slightly. My heart skipped a beat, but after about an hour we were flying quite smoothly. Seeing the ocean from above was enchanting, the waves crashing topped with white, fluffy foam. I feel heavy, as though a weight has been tied to my chest and stomach like I am being pulled down with every step that I take. As my thoughts sail across my mind I slowly drift into a deep slumber.
Bang! My eyes flick open, the plane is shaking and wobbling. I get up and look out the window. I see land directly below us and billowing smoke, not coming from the land below us, but from the plane engine. I momentarily freeze, the thoughts that had been sailing in my head were now drowning me. I run up to the cockpit and look for the pilot but when I get there all I see is a screen which flashes in ominous red letters: ABANDON PLANE OR DIE! I started pacing and breathing like I was running a marathon as I clattered through the plane and grabbed an emergency parachute and a gas mask, in case of any bombs when I hit the ground. I grab my stuff and run to the door. As soon as I open it, I feel a suction pulling me into the air but I hold tight and wait for the right moment. It seems like there will never be a right time, so as the plane begins to drop I let myself fall. Almost immediately I pull my chute knowing that I am far too close to the ground to wait any longer. I float clumsily towards the ground and fall flat onto my stomach.
I stumble to my feet and check my surroundings; if I observe correctly, I should be in Mongolia, a neutral country directly above China. I run toward the lights knowing it must be a town. People are walking along the street and talking to each other. Lights and puppets and beautiful clothes drift through the streets and snow is falling into my black hair. It’s as if there is no war. No fighting. Just peace and security. I pull on my furry coat and my thick boots and walk along the streets, and ask people where I can find a train to china.
“Uuchlaarai, bi Khyatad ruu galt tereg khaanaas olokhyg medekh üü?” I ask but everyone either says sorry, no, or completely ignores me and goes back to celebrating. Finally, when all the hope I have left is fading I ask one more person and he responds in weak English.
“Down that road to the left and than up the last creesant to the station”
“Thank you!” I say, then run off in the direction he told me to go in.
The station is empty, the only other soul here is the station master, who tells me the next train to China was a cargo train that I could catch if I really wanted to. I agree and sit down on the platform. I pull my jacket hood up. I can see my breath misting the air and my fingers are pink and numb so I slip on my gloves, tighten my hood and breathe in. The inhale is sharp on my throat. Each breath is like daggers. I gulp and curl up into a ball.
It is 2 o’clock in the morning by the time I hear a train coming. I stand up with my bags ready to get on when BANG!
I feel a strong force push me from behind and I fall onto the tracks. I feel a sharp pain in my shoulders, and think I will die and collapse on the tracks , but manage to land on my feet. I reach for the edge of the platform but a boot steps on my fingers. I release a cry of pain as I let go of the platform and look at the tunnel which the train will come through. I can already see the threatening lights of the train approaching.
CLICK CLACK CLICK CLACK.
I reach my hand up and grab the leg of whoever is attacking me; with one swipe I drag them onto the tracks.
“WHO ARE YOU?” I bellowed over the noise of the approaching train. No answer, only a swift punch to the face which I dodge as best as I can. My attackers’ friends leap down onto the tracks and join the fight. The train is less than 50 metres away from us now, we are still fighting on the tracks. I am about to look at my attacker’s face when the lights turn off and we are fighting in the dark. I roll into the gap under the lip of the platform. My attackers are too focused on fighting me and are surprised when they see the train 5 metres from themselves. They try to sprint, but it’s too late, the train smashes into them and pulls them all out of my sight. The train stops and I pull myself out of the gap, breathing heavily.
“Say hello to Hades for me,” I say, climbing onto the platform. I scramble on board the train and engulf myself in the welcoming oblivion of sleep
I awake in the morning and sit up, my hair is covered in hay from the bed I made with it last night, I blow a strand out of my face and groan. I have a headache and a sharp pain in my back from where I was shoved yesterday. I pull myself to my feet and open the carriage door; the train isn’t going too fast and I can see the hills of green to my side. I sit down and brush myself off. I lean against the carriage door and let my legs swing over the edge. I can see the tracks beneath me and quickly pull my legs up again, remembering what happened last night. It feels like a dream, why would anybody be hunting me of all people? I have no possessions, no fame, no riches and I haven’t had any arguments with anybody that serious! So what were they after, and what do I have to do with it?
Suddenly I see my whole life flash before my eyes, the pain, the arguments and the tears, my whole life was a lie and I can finally see it, I can almost feel the anger burning up inside of my for my whole family, Everything I thought was real, like mother going overseas for work, was a lie. Why am I here? And what is this horrible realisation of all the deceiving my parents have done. WAS OUR LIFE NOT ENOUGH? Did they have to do it? Have to be what I fear they are? Just a spy and a soldier? People who thought it could work? People from opposite sides of the war.
It’s their fault I am being followed, because of them, I am being delayed on my journey to slap my brother in the nose.
48 hours later of pure sleep, I am sitting on the edge of a run down station wondering how I got there, I am now in China. I am only 3,045 kilometres away from Patrice, 3045 kilometres from safety, 3045 kilometres to home, my real home: JAPAN. I feel strangely refreshed, I know I should be nervous to be so far away, but I feel free of any expectation here.
I make my way of the train and onto the platform nodding at the one person waiting at the stop, who is wearing an odd mask, I feel an urge of panic as I remember what happened last night, I speed up and grip the pocket knife in my pocket, I can’t fight in this state I would give up a good fight but I would eventually be defeated by exhaustion and pain