Madeline Hovey, Grade 6
As I gaze at the war ridden terrain, time seems to slow down. Everything is happening around me. This is not real. This isn’t happening. I shouldn’t be here, wherever I am. The mind numbing, repetitive days of battle have taken their toll and I have lost track of everything. All I know is one thing: kill or be killed. This phrase has spread like wildfire in the army camps and every night would bury the dead lying closest to our camps. As a reminder of their fate, kill or be killed is used as a substitute prayer.
I am not ready for war. I am only a young solider, pressured by others to join. But despite my uncertainty, my gun has become an extension of my arm and pulling the trigger, an act of self-defence. A familiar howl fills the night, high-pitched and defenceless. I turn to the battlefield because I know that sound.
My younger brother. 8 years old. Too young to be here. How did they get him?
Maybe he came. Maybe he thought he could help me. Young and naïve, he probably thought he could make everything right. But he can’t and I have to help him.
Finger poised at the trigger, I run out into the night. Soldiers from my side stand parallel to the enemy soldier. One is holding my brother by the back of his shirt.
“My brother! That’s my brother!” I shout.
“Help me!” He is hysterical. “HEEEEELP!!! I just wanted to help my brother!” He struggles against the soldier’s grip, who slams his gun against my brother’s forehead, silencing him.
The soldier is waiting for us to make the first move. Waiting for us to shoot so he can end my brother’s life. He doesn’t dare shoot now, because all eyes are on him. If he shoots he will be killed by us. But if we shoot, he will shoot my brother.
I know I have to act and save my brother but I am frozen by fear. I can’t move. I lock eyes with my brother and see that he is pleading for life and I need to help him, to do something, anything, but I know nothing. People are still. All I can hear is my heavy, jagged breathing.
In a split second I see the enemy put his finger on the trigger. This is war. He knows he must kill or be killed. I feel sorry for the solider. He has a family and a home and a country to protect. BANG!
The moment is gone. I see my brother’s mangled, limp body, on the ground. Lifeless. Yet he should have had a long life.
People start to shoot and the offender’s body soon lies, equally lifeless, next to my once beautiful little brother. All I feel is guilt and pain. I should have saved him. I crumple to the ground in agony, wanting to feel the impact of a bullet. Wanting to join my brother.