Calani Payton, Grade 10
I was desperate. It was too loud to think or speak, everyone was screaming. We were being marched to the camp, oh that much was obvious. The crowd jeered, crowds of people I thought I knew, the people around me cried out, thrashed around like a boat against the sea. Mercilessly, continuously. Children crying, women empty, men full of rage. But we were all as helpless as each other. On the outside, the ones who dubbed us evil, screamed too. But not out of fear.
There were some though, who didn’t struggle, they didn’t jeer at us or spit at the ground we walked on. Some just walked by.
And that was the worst of it all.
I wasn’t screaming either, a quiet blonde girl amongst the mess. Probably too young to be clutching a child to my chest, my very own girl.
Hannah squirmed in my grasp, confused by all the noise, she’d been alive just forty-eight hours tonight, she was warm and pink and perfect. And she would be dead like the rest of us.
The cries got louder as tired elders were flogged to the floor, they got louder as the station came into view, as children were pushed out by their parents and darted away to freedom, sobbing. Not all of them made it.
But my own was too young to crawl or walk, she could barely trap the tips of my hair into her palms, I wove her into her blankets tighter.
And still people walked by, silently. A woman and her kids back from shopping, a man with his dog, a couple pointing at clouds above. As if they didn’t see us.
But then someone did, through the hundreds of people all around me, a woman, just older than myself caught my eye, she wore a look of concealed horror, her face was blank but her eyes told the story. I stared back at her, suddenly the crowd wasn’t so loud, she looked just like me, a cotton dress, bushy blonde hair and a distraught expression. I wanted to call out to her, this stranger who wore pity, but what good would it do? I’d be calling our death. Instead she kept walking and so did I, each of us pushed to our different destination by the bustling sides of a war.
But as I walked by her, nothing could have stopped me from what I did.
I was desperate.
I pushed Hannah into her arms.