By Sanja Kader
Note: This submission is the Second Place Winner of the YIA National Writing Competition 2017.
James Waters, age 16, and I have a dream. In-between the passing time, these temporary days, when my mind wanders, it wanders to a stark white heaven. A heaven so cold, my breath comes out visible. Snow covers every corner of the seen and unseen horizon. And amidst that, I imagine striking red. I see blood red flowers scattered here and there. It’s a beauty that satisfies you.
My father used to write us about that scenery every winter. ”James and Julia, snow is here and the red flowers have fallen again,” he used to write. That was the story he told us again before he took his last breath, in that hot, summer night, in the living room.
That’s my dream. To be able to travel to a foreign heaven after all the madness is over.
The bell rings and its free period now. I go to the common room and sit on the same table as my group of friends. The guys are normally very noisy, today the atmosphere appears heavy. When I hear the nearby radio blaring with last night’s news, I understand why.
I open my mathematics book and begin to review the last chapter’s formulas. The president of The United States, Donald Trump, said he decided to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. A change. Another change.
I open the textbook and stare at the black letters. Why was I born in Gaza? Why not elsewhere?
“How can you study now?” Mathew questions, irritation thick in his voice.
“What good will talking about it do. Education is the key to change the world”, I smirk. I believe it with all my heart. My father died of a disease I couldn’t even pronounce back when I was 8, Julia 5. His skin resembled that of old leather and his lips seemed perpetually blue. We used the last of our savings to bring him back to Gaza, if he was going to die, at least it could happen with his family by his side. If he had a proper education, he could’ve had a proper job, we would’ve had proper money, he wouldn’t have had to leave us behind to a foreign land, he wouldn’t have died.
U.S.A is a powerful country, the president’s words must be of great gravity. I don’t care who wins this war, I just want it to end. I hope all these changes are for the better. A better and safer future where I don’t have to fear Julia dying in her sleep.
“This is gonna be bad”, Sam mutters, after the news ends.
I hope its not as bad as it looks to be. Please no.
I feel my mind drifting to a state of devastation. Something similar to the time mom died, 5 years after my father. I could almost here Julia’s desperate, shrill screams. I go out of the room for air. The corridor is built like a balcony, so that one side is open and faces the field and the other is lined with classrooms.
I look to the far corner of the left wing opposite of the one I’m standing on. A whistling noise bores into my ears, and I search up. towards the sky. An aeroplane? Too narrow for that. More like a…missile. An electric jolt shakes my body. It was moving in high speed towards-
My eyes widen in realization as I watch the bomb explode onto the part of the building i was looking at. And like a fragile domino setting, not some cemented body, the structure began to fall apart. And soon, way too soon, even before my ears could hear the cacophony of screams, the ground beneath me disappears and I feel gravity pulling me in.
When I finally learnt how to use the internet from the school computers I researched on Canada. Father was wrong. The tiny flowers he saw weren’t actually flowers, the way he described it, it seemed to be Red choker berries.Father hadn’t got the chance to study in school, so he couldn’t have known, and he barely spoke English. But the reality he made me dream of was so beautiful that I wanted it for me. I have the power to create my own destiny.
The excruciating pain lasted a few moments only, after that I couldn’t feel my legs or my hands or anything. Was this a blessing from God? Though I am hoping, or deluding myself that this isn’t as bad as it seems- that I would die here, that Julia would never know of the teddy I hid behind her pillows for her birthday. Tears well up in my eyes- how long can I lie to myself?
And before darkness engulfs my vision, I see pure white. White boulders, white dust, white smoke everywhere. White sand peppered with several drops of red blood. How can a scene so close to my dream be so far away from it? So deadly? So scalding hot? Thankfully and finally, darkness consumes me whole, saving me from the nightmare.