A train glutted with ammunition just entered the Alexania station. It is mid-October, and the rainy season just don’t seem to stop. It has been raining continuously for a week now. The sky is grey. The blue skies have long been lost, but we do get to see shades of grey. The topiary around the capital station used to be a panoramic view for the visitors, they seem to have lost all their exaltation.
We have been standing here since morning seven maybe, the arrival time was estimated to be nine. Its ten yet the train had not shown up. The train was a suggested program by our vice president. It sure appealed to the ministers as well. Somehow our president was so captivated by the idea that he didn’t take more than some months to initiate the program. Well, the commencement of the war was at the beginning of this year, Edmilsons didn’t take much time to declare the war after years of cold violence. After the cities started being the focus of attacks, government went under deep stress. At last, the conclusion came, the administration decided to send away every kid under 20 to families in villages, who were ready to keep them safely for time being. Villages were safer than the cities away from any kind of aggressions. The program was announced two weeks ago, we have been preparing from then.
I am standing with my younger sister, Sera and my mother at the Alexanian station. Its ten yet the train hasn’t arrived, god knows how long it will take. Sera was blabbering, she does that a lot when restless. Mother was busy wiping her silent tears, she has been doing that since a week now. After the news of dad from the regiment, the only thing I couldn’t stop was her tears. It’s already one and a half months since we received the letter carrying the news of our father’s martyr. I couldn’t express what I had been feeling from then, because I had promised dad to be the man for our family in his absence. If I cried I would not be in a position to wipe Sera and mom’s tears. I was not ready to leave mom alone but Sera needed me, I couldn’t leave her alone either, and mom didn’t really want us to stay here anymore. We were going to Nadia, a desolate yet a slightly village, to the north east of Kasaviah. Mom had one of her old uncle living there, he used to be a professor once, now retired lived alone at a huge mansion. He was ready to keep us, he was ready to keep two more people so we decided to take along our old neighbor’s son and daughter along with us. The daughter, Kimberly studied with me at high school, same class and her brother, Lucas is just eight years old.
It has been decades since the antagonism in-between Kasaviah and Edmilson. The borders of both of these provinces are covered by an unusually deep forest and rugged terrain. Even the mighty the river ava sweeps in-between the two commonwealths. This topography helped trespassers and smugglers to migrate easily. As years passed the smuggling kept increasing in an alarming rate. Our government was putting all their effort to stop this but something kept lacking. Edmilsons always seemed quite nonchalant about it. On a deep investigation, the truth spilled out. The opposing sovereign was buying our armaments and creating a stockpile in-between the forest. They had a huge strategy of incursion in our country, and their government was not ready to take any action against it, which initially proved that they were planning it for a long time now. After that president, didn’t take much time to prepare the country for an incoming onslaught. And within a year we were in a terrible war, both the provinces were not ready to back down in any instance now. The was an unescapable truth now. We can only count on its havocs and wait till it ends.
Sera called me.
“Can you please say mom to stop crying, if she continues anymore she’s simply going to fall sick soon.”
Sera has got my father’s features, almond brown eyes and hair, tall and athletic body type. She is a high school basketball player and is quite good at it. Being the youngest she was pampered a lot, she is only three years younger to me yet would behave like a kid. She will turn sixteen this month. Her demands and cries never seems to have and end but after the death of father I’ve seen her mature appearance. Within a month, she not only composed herself up but also actively took care of all the household. With mother’s condition, declining day by day she no way can work like before. We staggered in disbelief when Sera cooked all the meals and did the laundry without complaining. It’s not that I did not loved her being this way, I am proud of her but this is not how I wanted to see her grow. She was the person who could make us laugh at the darkest moments, so merry she used to be. I was not ready to lose that Sera.
“Yes, mom Sera’s right, you should quit it now, we don’t want to leave seeing to cry like this”
I have been saying this line for a week now, yet I don’t find anything else to say that would console her.
She is a mother, probably two months before who has lost her husband would be in no position of be comforted. And when her children are leaving, in such a situation, I don’t find a reason why she won’t cry. Even after seeing her crying bitterly I call her a strong woman, who is ready to give away every bit of hers to keep her children safe.
“Kevin promise me you’ll be safe, you’ll take care of Serry, you promise me because I want you to come back to me, no matter what I want both of you safe in my arms after all this ends, just make a promise.”
She is forcing me to think whether to actually leave her alone and go. I shouldn’t and can’t leave her back in this circumstances.
“I promise you Mom I’ll be back with your Serry. We both will be back even before you get time to miss us.”
She smiled with teary eyes.
“How can I not miss you both, when the only thing I am living for is you two.”
“MOM, we will be fine, I want you to take care of yourself. Don’t think of Kevin, I’ll make sure he does not do any mischief.”
There came my so called big sister. Mother’s mood seemed to brighten up a little. Sera always seemed to put everything right, I am kind of jealous of her for this trait. I somehow lack it, the only thing I can do is stress out at critical situations.
“Mom isn’t Mr. Wilson late, its already ten”
“I called them that the train is late so maybe they are taking their time, they’ll come for sure”
Mom spoke without looking in my eyes.
The Train at last seemed to progress in the station, it was nearly eleven. The sky was as dull as ever. Kimberly and Lucas has also joined us on time. After a whole lot of weeping and sobbing, the parents were ready to part with us. Entire station had a mourning environment, where ever I looked at I see someone shedding tears. We were inside our allotted carriage, every coop had four bunks. We waved back our parents from the train window, it took me time to find mom in-between the crowd. She had a mild smile on her face, however it maybe she smiled and that itself was satisfying. I waved back to mom, Mrs. Wilson was inconsolable, she was clinging to my mother. Sera, Kimberly and Lucas were shouting goodbye to them. It was a relief as the train slowly increased its speed I couldn’t tolerate that distressing climate anymore. I made sure to wipe out the single tear from the corner of my eye before confronting others.
Nadia station wasn’t even visible when the train reached there at 9. Only some gaslight hung here and there, it was a small station with only a small room for the station master and a small ticket counter. It didn’t seem to have even a proper sun shed or a bench to sit. I knew Nadia was a small village but didn’t knew it could be such a unpretentious suburb.
I helped down Sera with the luggage’s is strong, she carried her valise on her own. Kimberly needed help for sure, and she also had two portmanteaus. I helped her down, and her belongings. Lucas followed her with his own valise.
“Kevin it’s so dark out here”
Kimberly said in a shaken voice.
“Yes, it’s sure is, stay close by. Sera stay behind me, and Lucas don’t leave your sisters hand”
We were strangers here, so professor Simonds should have sent somebody to escort us, but I couldn’t see a single soul nearby. It is just the four of us standing at a scheduled station, the train had already left long back.
“This can be the worst thing happening to us, how can they be so irresponsible when they a previously reported of our arrival. I believe them to be the most impetuous mortal alive.”, Kim snapped.
Now, Kim is quite endearing unless she is scared.
“Kim its fine we will find a way out, maybe professor has some indispensable work or maybe he has left for us but not yet reached here.”
Sera seemed to be calm somehow.
“Such an unpunctual person.” derided Lucas.
We were busy commenting when I heard a distant horse foot noise, I became alert. The sound slowly was advancing towards us. I felt a tight grip on my arm, I turned to find a pale Kim staring at the source of sound. She stared back at me, her eyes showed that whatever may come she would was not leave my hand. We were in our ninth grade when one day she asked me out after my basketball classes. We went out regularly after that day, she waited for me after classes. My friends cheered on me to grab the gold fish among the tunas. She was desperately waiting for me to fall for her somehow, looking at her dedication I never could ignore her, but truly I still didn’t know how it felt to fall in love. I knew she was appealing according to my classmates, even I felt she was one of the most adorable girls I knew. Still something was out of place, it sure wasn’t how dad felt towards mom. I have known her since childhood, growing up playing with her she never seemed different than Sera to me. Maybe she was expecting more from me, expectations which I was forcing myself to fulfill yet couldn’t.
“I am Kurt, sir I’ve been sent by professor Simonds to pick everyone. We need to get back before it gets dark, it’s not safe through the grove this late.”
The horse galloping sound was thus from Kurt’s two horse carriage.
We didn’t wasted time and moved in the carriage was cozy inside. Kurt helped me load the luggage’s behind the carriage. Lucas was extremely excited for this is his first hackney ride. Sera was quiet, everyone was tired after all. Yet we were excited about how our experience here would be. The horses pierced through the pitch-black clumps.
“Kurt how far is the mansion?”
I was curious, we seemed to be riding for a long time now.
“Sir, it’s not more than forty-five minutes if we carry on in this celerity”
Suddenly the horse screeched to a halt, we were thrusted frontwards. Lucas flopped on me, Sera and Kim had bumped on each other. I pulled Lucas up.
“What’s wrong Kurt? That was close. You well?”
I enquired if Kurt was fine, the jolt was a heavy one.
“Sir I think there’s someone on the pathway, one second it was there and now gone, the geldings might have just been scared of it.”
“What do you think it was? A wild animal or maybe any night traveler.”
“I have no idea what it was sir, but please stay in let me check the surrounding once.”
Everyone sat still in their places, Sera looked pale, but not more than Kim. Lucas didn’t seem to leave my jacket since he felt the jolt. I wanted to keep calm but in this situation, I feared if they could hear my heart drumming. Kurt was nowhere visible through the window of the carriage; the forest was dark as a funeral scarf. The clouds didn’t seem to be in a mood to let the moon have a peek from somewhere. Except the sounds of unknown insects ,there was absolutely no sound. I wasn’t sure whether to call out Kurt or just move out for once to get a peek of what’s going on outside. I decided to peer out.
“You are going nowhere Kevin.”
Sera sure was having mother’s traits.
“Sir can you please come out for once, its important”