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Hid and Seek

They came in the heat of the summer in the dark of the night. Demanding the government needed not one, but two men from each household. Fathers were pulled from their fields. Boys who were still attending the little one-room schoolhouse shuffled with dragging feet into a war we all knew we could not win. Mothers fought and were thrown into jail. Starved and abused they were kept there until the boys left willingly on the conditions that their mothers would be set free upon their departure. Many mothers never left that jail.
Then, desperate, bankrupt, and broken, the government remembered us.
I heard about it in the tavern while I was working. I was walking right close to some men who had just ridden into town. They were dressed smart like important people who knew important things. That’s how I heard the news. They said the government should’ve started taking boys from the orphanage first rather than now, after all the husbands and sons that mattered had been doomed to death. Said it was a good way to kill off the ones no one wanted anyhow.
I don’t believe the words “good” and “kill” can be used in the same sentence.
I was passing out drinks and when I heard that news slide from those lips of men who had never been in an orphanage a day in their life. Never seen the struggle the children live through. Never known that...
Every. Single. Day. Is a war for those children.
A war to stay alive.
I heard those words coming from those lips and the drinks on my tray; they clattered right to the floor. Glass shards and amber liquid flew as they crashed against the ground, and I flew too. Flew fast as my feet would carry me right to the orphanage and grabbed up Daryn, Macy, and Philip.
The orphanage master whom I had hated since the first day I was placed in his care inside that brick-walled hell said I wasn’t allowed to do that, to take those kids out yet. But, that old cruel man, he didn’t put up much of a fight. Said I wasn’t allowed to but then, even as I pulled them out the tall, wooden door, never told me not to.
He knew they were coming.
The men cloaked by the heat of summer and the dark of night. Knew that Daryn would be the first to go. So strong, fast, and among the oldest of the orphans, those men would wrap their talons around him until they slipped right in and pierced his heart. Daryn who could soften even that cruel old man’s heart with his sweet soul and innocent nature. Daryn would be gone forever.
So that orphanage master told me I shouldn’t but never said I couldn’t. Said I should legally wait the last few months ‘til I was eighteen to take my brothers and sister, the last family I had.
He knew though. Knew I wasn’t just taking them away from that orphanage, but away from a fate that would surely devour them all.
So we ran. We ran and we hid. Like a sick game of Hide-and-Seek.
Only, in this game, the seeker…
He carries a gun.

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