Darwin, 2 May 1943
Dominique Atley, Grade 9, Rochester Secondary College
2nd in the 'Honoured Writers of 2011' competition
One, two, three, four, five. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.
The intervals were becoming longer between each explosion. Maybe this meant the end, but as I took in the surroundings I knew that this was only the beginning.
From out on the street Jenna and I had been one of the first to witness Japan’s blitzkrieg attack on the city. At first a distant murmur had turned our attention to the sky and before long planes had emerged from the horizon, like a swarm of locusts ready to destroy the harvest. This time though the plague wasn’t hunting the crop, it was after us.
It took less than twenty minutes before Darwin was in ruins. Black ash and rubble painted landscape, transforming it from the rich burgundy colour of dirt and rust to the demonic red of blood and flames. Fire licking the sides of buildings with its acid tongue, taking with it families and their homes.
The air thickened with every passing minute, suffocating us like the death cloud it had become. People ran in terror. They grabbed whatever they could, trying desperately to save themselves, like a swarm of ants before a big storm in the wet season.
I could hear their screams from under the fallen truck. They tore at my insides, knowing that any one of them could mean the death of my ma or dearest pa. I believed that my heart would burst, if not from an explosion, but from the thought of losing my family. Reality had forced its way onto my shoulders, bringing with it the burden of caring for another life.
Through the smoke I could see my sister’s eyes shining with fear. It killed me more than anything to know that even the innocent realised the importance of this moment. As young as she was, Jenna’s eyes bulged knowledge, and I longed for the moment when I could turn to her whisper that everything was going to be alright. But it wasn’t.
I squeezed her hand until our fingers whitened and tried hard to picture the previous night. We were all seated around the radio, out of habit if not anything else. Never in any minds had we imagined this would happen. The attack had been a wakeup call for our country. This was the sudden realisation that we were not safe. War was now a word not just spoken of in a distant land, it was on our doorstep. War had charged through our home, not bothering to wipe its feet but banging down the door instead.
This attack had ripped off our country's security blanket and seemed to stare down at us smirking, smiling and taunting. Excuses were not an option anymore; everything was about to change.
Huddled together and frozen with fear, I knew only one thing to be true.
No one survives war.