22

The theme of her young adult life consisted of gun fire, bomb shelters and screams of pain and anger. She never knew of a time when the sun shone bright and yellow and people visited each other for the holidays. She couldn’t remember a time when they had full bellies and restful minds. War did not allow such luxuries.

Every night she would climb into the bundle of rags she called her bed and she would be rocked to bed with the lullabies of whistling bombs proclaiming their arrivals then falling somewhere sealing promise to the doom ever coming nearer. It had been years and it hadn’t subsided. Neither side would win but they seemed set on annihilating each other at any cost. Stubborn creatures they were these dogs of war, the shot callers on fates of cities that once stood proud and beautiful but now lay in rubbles of stone and ash and human flesh. Yet, home was home. In the ruins, poor souls took shelter because there was nowhere to go. 

In her own pile of rubbles she created a world, a bubble to protect her from the reality of the outside. On the weak harness that her family used as a ceiling, were written words she would try to make out at night. The harness was once a banner for some ceremony; a wedding or a graduation. Most of the writing had faded due to weathering but just at the edge, where she could see it laying on her “bed”, was the number 22 written in bold green letters, refusing to be washed or burned away. She couldn’t lose herself in the night sky; it was too dangerous so she lost herself in the number. She studied its design; the simple edges and faded coloring like a lover’s complexion until she could make out its smallest details with her eyes closed. 

“I’ll be 22 someday,” was her nightly prayer believing with all her heart that it was a sign of some sort, a secret promise between her and the creator. 

It’s basic human nature to draw hope from mundane circumstances, to make something out of nothing, a fool’s endeavor it seems. But where would we be without it? 

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