When The Air Strikes

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Now I’m only an hour away from finding my parents. We’re already back into our trucks when Ashraf comes to us, “Luke and Zara, we’ll reach Aleppo in another sixty minutes- that’s when your real work begins. I need you to follow every team member’s action closely.” We nod simultaneously. I take Ain with me. She likes Pa too. Everybody likes him.

The wheels seem to be moving faster and my heart tries catching up with it. I can’t breathe properly. Just fifty minutes away. To keep my sanity intact I hold Ain close to me. Her little hands fall in my palm and she traces it. Then she plays a little with my hair. Every time the truck runs over a stone I grab her. I can’t let her fall, I won’t let her fall. Her skin is the same shade as me but smoother. She is the most beautiful little girl I’ve seen. We’re two girls who’ve lost it equally in life.

I am going to find my world back in about forty minutes but I doubt if Ain ever will so, I want to be brave enough for both of us. That is selfish, but selfish is who I am.

Who am I fooling?
Life has proved me wrong again.
I am not brave
and so are you.
Nobody is.
All we can really do is
make each other feel enough.
Just enough.
I have a sword in my hand
I’m in your land-
searching the dark lashes and tears
you dropped on the pillow
for your nightmares.
I’m here to fight them.
Maybe I don’t kill them today.
But darling, have I made you feel enough?

The truck suddenly stops sending bits crashing against the walls. “What is it Akif?” Luke asks. No answer. We all get down and when we do, there’s one person missing- the driver. He emerges from the back of his truck talking on the phone. After hanging up he tells Ashraf something in Arabic. Aisha’s face turns green and she vomits near one of the trucks. “What happened?” Samantha asks her hysterically, but all Aisha does is nod her head. The driver makes groans holding one hand near his ear and the other pointing towards the sky. In the silence that is broken apart by the ultrasound cry of Ain, I hear it. I’ve heard the same thing over and over about a million times in all my nightmares but each time it’s just as fresh. “Turn the trucks,” Akif whispers, “We’re going back.” We look at him puzzled but all he can manage before running to the driver’s seat is, “Air strike. Turn the trucks. NOW.”

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