Hallucinations. Throbbing head. Flashback: I was seven. Four soldiers barged into our house without knocking. They had muddy boots, leaving marks on our red carpet. Two of them raced upstairs. Mum was screaming. I hid behind the couch, without them noticing. I heard the front door open. It was dad. In his right hand was the same old leather briefcase carved with his initials that he took everywhere.
Bang. Bang.
Before I could blink, two bullets went through dad’s head. Blood poured out like a waterfall from his nose. I saw his briefcase drop. Mum crawled over, and whispered urgently. “I’ll distract them. Leave through the back door!” But I refused. I didn’t want to leave her. One of the men spotted me. Before I knew, he was pointing his gun at my body. Mum jumped in front of me. This time, I ran. The men didn’t give chase. I heard a bang.
My heart was pounding. Racing. Beating so fast I couldn’t catch my breath.
I ran and ran and ran. My house was no longer in sight. I looked up. I saw three dark birds in the sky. But they were not birds. They were airplanes. Not the ones you go travelling on. I kept running. I’d never been in this part of town. There were lots of signs. Some said something about the dictator. Some said something about taking care from landmines.
It was becoming cloudy, bringing the mist down and making my view all foggy. But I was parched. My mouth was dry like our carpet. I heard the cries of a boy. I stopped, trying to locate where the sobs were coming from. A little boy’s figure came into view. He was about four or five years old. Sweat was running down his face like he had taken a shower in dirty water. “What’s wrong?” I asked. No reply. I realized one of his legs was frozen. It was planted on something. “Come! We must leave the city!” I yelled. “Run!” He responded, “we will both die if I lift my leg. Just. Go!”
Flashback: I was put on a little fishing boat, crammed with strangers. Unrecognisable faces. Voices. I don’t know who put me on that boat. It was freezing. There was another boy, maybe older than me by a year. Did he say his name was Emanuel? No, that doesn’t sound right. The boy offered me a piece of bread. It was stale. But that was okay. Not many boys talked to girls, so I was happy to have a friend. The boat drifted across the mean, angry ocean for days.
Today, I live in a tiny room. The guards tell me to keep quiet whenever I scream at night. It’s hard, living in a detention centre. The only light that comes in is from the door cracks when guards flash their torches around the endless halls. I miss home. I miss mum. I miss dad.


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