The Promise

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I remember how my family fled after the bombing

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I remember how my family fled after the bombing. My mother cried hysterically, holding my sister close. My little brother didn't cry, but he didn't speak either; he just remained silent as he stared at my dead body. I remember how strange it was to see them looking down at my corpse, my little girl locked tightly in my cooling and stiffening arms.

Unlike me, she did survive the attack.

My mother's oldest brother, too crippled to fight in the war, was the one who finally dared to step forward. He carefully removed the rubble on top of my body before freeing my precious baby from my dead weight. My sacrifice had saved her life and she only had a little scrape on her cheek to show for it.

If I could have still cried, I would have in joy. My precious little Jane, only fourteen months old, was still alive. She accepted my uncle's embrace and cooed contently as she felt his body heat. He walked back to the rest of my family and ushered them to go outside. The few other remaining members of my family were gathering there. The sound of aeroplanes was still audible and they all feared, myself included, that more bombs were to follow.

My sister pleaded for them to give me a proper burial, the sweet girl, but my mother was wise enough to know this was too dangerous. I wanted them away from that town as fast as possible too. I didn't care much for my physical form; it wasn't like I could still use it. My sister looked back at the pile of rubble that had once been my home, before tearing her eyes away and accepting the fact that my body was to remain there.

They gathered what little useful stuff they could find: some blankets, knives, an axe, rope, bottles for water, and some pots and pans. Food had been scarce for a few weeks already and the stream of refugees that had already left town seemed to have taken what little there had remained.

Baby Jane was wrapped in a blanket and handed to my mother; the little thing was already dozing off and before my family was out of town she was fast asleep. I followed them, wanting to know if they were going to be alright. What else was I to do? There was no bright light, no angel to come get me—or a demon for that matter.

-

Before nightfall, my family had made up a campsite in an old abandoned shed. The huge pile of hay provided good bedding. Throughout the shed lay dozens of steel barrels. My uncle had opened one and was amazed to find out it was filled with oil. There were several empty barrels too, probably used by soldiers to refill their tanks. Together with two of my nephews, they removed the lid and filled it up with some twigs they had scavenged outside. Using some hay and oil they lit a nice fire in the drum in order to keep warm. It wasn't winter yet, but the nights were already quite cold.

My little brother, who still hadn't spoken a single word, came running into the shed. He pointed back outside, at my uncle and his two daughters who were dragging a deer. My mother beamed at the sight of it; they now had something for dinner.

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