"War" by Ariana, Age 13

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I wake up to the cry of my little brother who lies beside me on the creaky cot, my blurry vision adjusting to the baby only wearing a cloth diaper due to the hot July air that creeps through the window shutters. I fix myself in a cross-legged sitting position, carefully easing my fingers under my sibling’s back to put him against my shoulder. I pat his back in reassurance that everything is fine. I look through the window to see the usual Sunday morning chores being done outside in the streets of Kandahar.

With my brother in hand, I walk into the only other room in our dwelling, the kitchen. The warm aroma of freshly made bread clogs my nostrils as I near my mother. We greet each other with the normal “hellos” while the baby is taken into her arms, a cold breeze hitting my left side at the loss of warmth. I hear the scratch of bristles against the concrete floor, leading my eyes to find my older brother concentrating hard on his task. I decide to go make the beds as breakfast is being made.

I travel back to the bedroom, stealing a quick glance out the window to see the civilians scramble off the streets and into their houses. I make my way closer to the window, only to hear the faint whipping of helicopter propellers. It is getting louder, and louder as it edges near. I know what’s happening…war.

I turn around sharply and speed into the other room that holds my family. By the looks on their faces, I can tell they already know what’s about to happen. We abandon our recent stances and all huddle into a corner, preparing for what’s to come, the brick wall protecting us from anything that will happen just outside our house.

The first shot is fired, causing our ears to deal with a few moments of pain. A heart-wrenching scream is heard soon after it, worry washing through all of us. The sound of cascading bullets is muted, for what seems like a millisecond before the front door is broken open. A pair of ice-cold eyes meets mine; no sign of emotion seems to be present. The arms that are protectively wrapped around me begin to tremble, tightening their grip. Tears evading my eyes, I bravely look back up. 

This is it.