I wake up in my bedroom, the walls around me made of mud and rocks. Sunlight is streaming through the tiny window, reminding me that it's the crack of dawn. Yawning, I roll out of my bed – careful not to step on my siblings who are on the floor, wrapped in multiple dirty rags for warmth. I reach the kitchen. My mother is already cooking breakfast for the 6 of us. My father is at the door. Guarding. Waiting watching. My mother and I exchange a nod, and I help by preparing lunches for everyone. For ______ (sister), ______ (brother), ________ (sister). So, I guess not everyone, but pretty much. ________ (older brother) has been taken. Not that I would have to prepare him any food anyway, he's a couple years older than me, and out of school even longer than I. It still pains me now, though, to remember that instead of 3 siblings coming out of the bedroom in the morning, it will only be 4. Always three. It was painful. Terrifying. The soldiers are monsters. They don't care about anyone but themselves. Who are they to take away our culture and families? No, they don't have that right. But they do it anyway.
Grandmama says it's getting worse. "War is coming on, Gabriella. It will only go downhill from here." For the sake of my family, the village, and myself, I sure to god hope that she's wrong.
She's not. When I reach the school at which I teach at, I don't even need to go inside. Manual is off to the side, along with the students. "Why don't we go learn outside today?" he says. So we do. We walk into the forest on the west for a couple miles until we reach a stream. Then Manual sits the children down on the rocks, and he begins to tell his stories, and teach. He doesn't get too far in his lesson. I am just sitting down myself when we hear gunshots. When I look to Manuel, he's crumbling. In a ragged voice, he lets out one word, "Run".
I grab a couple of the kid's hands, the rest of them following suit. Then we are off, running upstream and away from the sound of guns. In the distance I hear a few groans, and cries. But then… they stop. Manual is dead.
We continue to run through the forest, but I know that the students can't take it much longer, so a moment later we settle down and walk instead. Another gun fires. Another child dies. We run again, but by the time that we are free from any of the soldiers, only three of us remain. 12 are dead.
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