Krissie Madden, Grade 11, Christian Outreach College
I see him. His broad shoulders rippling underneath his uniform, standing tall and proud for his country, his eyes penetrating through my soul, with that killer smile that made me fall in love with him. He is running towards me, but his eyes are full of worry. He’s trying to tell me something, but I can’t make it out. Time suspends, and everything becomes slow. I helplessly watch as metal beasts fly through his chest, leaving their crimson mark. I run towards his fading figure, but by the time I get there, he is gone. There is nothing. No body. No uniform. Nothing. I look up just in time to see a metal beast flying towards my head, but I don’t move. I just sit there and wait till the blackness swallows me.
Sweating and shaking, I wake up, run to the bathroom, and expel this poisonous dream into the toilet. Shaking and exhausted I sink down against the wall, trying to control my breathing. This is the third time this week, I think to myself. A knock interrupts my thoughts.
“Hazel Grace, you okay?” my friend, Benjamin, asks in his Israeli accent. I manage to mumble an unconvincing answer, but he gets the message. When tragedy strikes most people like to be comforted by those they love. Not me. I decided to fly halfway across the world and live in HaBesor, a small farming settlement near the Gaza strip.
I've enjoyed this missionary work; however, in two days I will have to return to the tragedies of my life. Four months ago I lost Annie, my two year old, and about a week later I was informed that my husband, Rick, was M.I.A somewhere in Afghanistan, triggering the poisonous dreams.
I sit in the silence and finger my wedding rings that once brought me joy. The silence is broken by an ear-piercing scream. Before I can react, Benjamin has barged in, pulled me into the street and disappeared back into his house overcome with smoke. I stop and take in my surroundings, but then I run. I run because my life depends on it. Time suspends and I see a shell land in front of me. I try to dodge it but it’s too late. Everything turns black.
Bip. Bip. Bip. I am aware of the noises first, then of something choking me. I sit up, gag, and pull out a tube. Exhausted, I lay back and observe the flowers by my bed. Sunflowers. My favourite. I glance over at the stranger by my bedside and – no, it can’t be. His gaze meets my eyes and he flashes that killer smile.
“Rick?” I croak, choking back tears. He moves slowly, encircling me with his arms.
“Hey, Hazelnut,” he whispers, brushing his lips across my cheek. Then I remember.
“Rick, what happened to them?” I ask as I grab his arm in panic, “Benjamin? His family? The villagers?” He hugs me tighter.
“I'm sorry, baby. I'm so sorry.”