Train puffed away
It’s been two days traveling by train. The conductor would stop at a certain station and skip a few other empty ones, some people would quickly get off and others would rush onto the train sometimes while it was moving, but it was mostly only children that were boarding the train.
Mia kept getting a slight chill, but she wasn’t sure if it was because she didn’t have much on during the night commute or because of the fear that they might throw her mother out just to stuff more children in the train.
The last night stop was the worst one yet, twice the amount of children was added onto the train but because there was no space to put them in the workers started to add them to others private cabin as well as ours, now all that can be heard were their tears, but mama was able to calm them all down by telling them stories about a world that had friendly monsters and magical rocks that can grant anything you want. Everyone was intrigued by the story. Mia on the other hand already heard the story dozens of times and would cut in to add a little more details that her mother would sometimes fail to mention.
Everyone in the cabin was having a blast that morning talking about last night’s story and adding their twist to it. While Mia’s mother was on the couch still asleep, Mia was next to her pretending to read a book that she has been carrying around in her satchel, yet she couldn’t help but overhear the other kids. She wanted to join along, talk on and on about their added version of the story all day long because one thing she loves the most is talking about her mother’s stories, however, she kept quiet and only listened since getting too close to someone will only hurt her once they go their separate ways.
On the last day of train travel, the once filled cabin of seven people started to quiet down and has been reduced to four passengers. The passengers that have been on the train for days kinda felt annoyed and worried about the situation that everyone is forced to take. Mia’s mother on the other hand kept messing with whatever she can get her hands-on, it made Mia and the others kinda nervous. She felt nervous, she felt suffocated but didn’t know if the reason was from being stuck in a cabin for so long or if she knew that if she doesn’t talk to Mia soon it will only be harder for the both of them once they reach the destination.
All the stuff she needed to say to her only daughter has been written in a letter, just that itself was hard enough to do, yet now to tell her that she won’t be able to go with her from here is something no parent should ever do, since she knows she might not ever see one another again.
She stood up and reached for her small handbag above her daughter’s head and pulled out a small wrapped box. She saw Mia smile while opening the box, yet she also had a worried look added to it, she slowly pulled the ribbon unraveling the brown paper, lifting the box open revealing a phone with a letter from her grandmother. She explained to Mia that she along with a few others have been transferred to help out in a different location, and she will need to travel back soon once she drops Mia off at the town and grab her supplies that need to be transported to the location she needs to go.
Explaining that she can read the letter as soon as she is put in her foster home, but she didn’t get any response from Mia, she just sat there looking at the phone; looking at the letter. Saying nothing at all. This was the day she dreaded the most, she lost her home her parents, now her daughter. She felt her heart shatter. She didn’t know what else she can do. She wishes for them to run away to find a safer place, but there was nowhere to go, her husband did everything to put Mia on the children protection list, even buying a fake certificate and passport just to hide her true age just so she wouldn’t be forced to participate in this war. She looked at Mia and was shocked to see tears running down her cheeks quietly crying to herself, forcing herself not to cry. She slid Mia closer to her, embracing her before the last stop to the town forces them to go their separate ways.
Upon arrival, Mia and her mother grabbed what they had with them and whatever was left in the food bag and headed down to the office that was packed with people. Looking around Mia noticed that some ladies had children next to them or about to have children, Another side had a line with some children getting ready to leave the town. A few were crying or holding down the urge to cry in front of others. Mia reached for her pocket and clutched the phone that she received from her mother hours before the chaos of tears, she just looked forward holding her mothers’ sleeve with her other hand.
While silently standing in the never-ending line of farewells four ladies that looked like one of the workers exited the building that everyone is waiting in, they had a bag around their waist and a logbook with a few other things. The three ladies workers were listening to what the other person was saying while she was writing down on her notepad, soon after the lady that seemed like the boss loudly announced for the ‘Child Military Care Program’ will be holding their line right where she was standing. As well as women who aren’t able to work due to their physical dilemma. Just then the long line that almost everyone was waiting in was quickly reduced, and now everyone was making another long line.
The second lady that was listening before started to write in her notepad and just like the first lady she then announced two new line for the children that are ready for work as well as children who came alone, due to the fact their families might not have been able to afford to travel with them due to the trains being double packed as it already was. Just like that, the long line of two was now a line of four.
Mia wouldn’t lie when she said she was bored out of her mind but after twenty minutes the line where the other two lady workers were done and started going down the long lines that Mia and her mother have been waiting in. Once they finally were able to reach us the lady asked a lot of questions as well as asking for a birth certificate and other stuff than she pinned a label onto Mia’s outfit stating Mia’s name, home address, which school she went to as well as who Mia’s father was. In the front of the label, it said where she will be headed and who will be responsible for her.
Once everything was in place and Mia’s mother has gotten the supplies from the building that the lady workers came out from. Mia was then needed to be placed onto another vehicle as soon as possible to get an early start for the next group of kids that will be transported there soon. It was all happening too fast for Mia. She might not ever be able to see her mother anymore after this she didn’t want to move from where she was standing, she couldn’t move at all she didn’t want to let go of her mother, she’s all she has now.
Mia’s mother noticed Mia’s behavior, and she prayed that there was another option she could have taken to be able to stay by her side. She dropped everything she had on and slowly kneeled down to hug her, for this might actually be her last chance to ever do so. She really tried her best to not show Mia how heartbroken she felt the entire ride here, but it was the final hug that finally broke her down into tears. She didn’t want to leave her side at all she wishes to be by her side, but luck isn’t on anybody’s side at the moment. As for Mia, everything in her head went blank and all she can recall was that she was being tightly held by her mother and her sweet scent of strawberries then she has transported soon after.
Years after the final separations Mia settled in and was able to make a living on helping out, ever since people started to dread the slow decline in the food shortage, she started to grow few things in her own garden and showed others how to garden on their own.
Occasionally every morning and every night Mia’s mother would call at a specific hour, it would be either a short call or just a text. Her father would only be able to send a text message since he won’t ever be able to make a proper call without someone needing him for one thing or another, eventually, she stopped receiving anything from her father, and eventually, her mother stopped calling as well. Mia would still send a text or even tried to make a call at the time they used to talk, but the call never went through.
She knew it wasn’t safe for her to stay in town, but she was tired. No more family. She lost everyone she cared about, there was no use in running away from the war, they were losing. Besides, she needed to stay behind for the younger kids who needed her, since she has nowhere else to go to call home.
A month after her sixteen birthday she went out to the town to go to volunteer at the retirement center after making a few errands. While quietly walking and kicking an empty soda pop can, she stopped and noticed a few kids her age and younger hanging around an old beaten-up car, that everyone loves to hang around in. No one knew why the vehicle wasn’t taken away to be turned into some other thing, but this was the only way that kids were able to hear the news without the adults or some kid taking over it or yelling at everyone to leave.
Mia tried to surreptitiously slip away behind an alley, hiding her face with her old baseball hat that she received as a birthday present two years ago, but she accidentally bumped into one of the rowdy kids that were also passing along the same path as Mia. Turns out he and a few others kids were sent to look for her to fix the radio receiver from the old car. Turning around she noticed they were all just kicking the thing to get it working, she kinda wishes she at least taught some of them how to fix this kind of thing. One of them noticed her and all came running towards her begging and crying to help get the radio to work, knowing she was defeated she marched towards the run-down vehicle, she also started to kick the car, to remove a bit of her frustration from getting caught but wasn’t expecting to hear a man’s voice just from a kick to the car.
Everyone backed up away from the terrifying voice that was being transmitted from the radio. He sounded hesitant, frightened, and wasted, but what everyone was listening to was the thunderous sound that was coming from the background of the man’s voice, the screams of fallen soldiers still fighting, and the cries of defeat. Unprepared for what everyone hears next is what really sent chills down everyone’s spine. The voice talking on the radio started laughing. Hearing glass bottles crashing, and the man yelling at someone just then a loud noise coming from a gun silenced everything.
Mia leaned against the wall, mortified from what she and everyone just heard. She knew they were going to lose the war, but she didn’t expect that they were already this near to the town already. She looked at everyone, some crying and some are not sure what to do. There’s no way out if they stayed in the town, they needed to run and find a new place to hide. Mia still leaning against the wall told everyone to pack whatever they can and leave as soon as possible, never look back and run as far away from this place to call home.
In just three days the town that held a majority of kids and a few adults were nearly empty. Only a few stayed behind, losing what is left of sheer hope that they had of winning the war, or they weren’t fit to take the long journey. They all remained cooped up in their homes. Mia stayed behind to help out the kids who needed her the most. She still followed her daily routine with helping the kids, tending the garden, and listening to music out on the porch while reading her mother’s diary that was given to her. Everything was somewhat normal until she was startled by the loud explosion near the front border gates. She knew that they finally reached the town, and whoever was left in town just barricaded themselves inside any building they were near, as for Mia she just turned the music up a little higher and sat back down to read, but noticed a little kid bawling.
Getting up, she looked down the street. The kid was lined up in eyesight to a man pointing his gun at the bawling kid. Before she realized it, she has sprinted towards the kid and used herself to cover the kid, just as she was attempting to run a tank nearby target a building next to them and everything went dark. Coughing and trying to wave her arm around to get any small rubble off herself, she felt immense pain all over except her legs.
Nudging her arm around, she successfully grabbed her phone from within the pile, pointing the flashlight towards the motionless child that is wrapped around her arm. Looking around she placed her phone near the fallen rubble, facing the light towards themselves putting her finger near her nose. Letting her head fall back onto the ground, dreading that they both were still alive. She hugged the child close to her and closed her eyes, waiting for their moment of death to appear, instead she hears a voice. Not wanting to open her eyes, she hugged the child closer to her chest, bearing the pain all over her body but unable to feel her lower half. Mia felt helpless at that moment and lost all she wanted was her family, her old life back. She quietly started to cry for a while longer before passing out.
Once she finally gains consciousness, she stood up and notices she was in the woods and no longer in the town, let alone under a huge pile of rubble. Taking a huge relief of suspenseful hope, she recalled the child she was holding in her arm was much lighter and smaller. Looking down, she noticed a blanket in her arms, confused about what going on or how they even escaped out of town with the soldiers right on them. She moved her arm close to unwrap the blanket, but stopped when she noticed her arm was covered in short hair and her nails were long and thin. Now trying to process what is really happening.