Power

August 21, 2011
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With every gun shot that pierced the night, I pulled the blanket that i had rescued, tighter around my shoulders. It was nightfall, yet 'business' had just barely begun. The ground was wet, and the air, damp. It had rained a few hours before the dark caught up with us. It did not help that the temperatures were dipped below zero degree Celsius. I drew my head between my knees, thinking of the pile of rubble that once was the place i called home. On this day, one year ago, Jess and I were sitting on the woolen rug in front of the fire place, satin night gowns rubbing against the delicate skin protecting us. With both hands cupped around freshly refilled cups of hot chocolate with finely cut pieces of marshmellows bobbing up and down, we gathered around the warmth of the burning logs, waiting for the return of our parents. The memory was still fresh in my mind. I could still feel the hair brush, ever so miniature in the palms of our nanny, running through my hair, halting at every knot that blocked its path. The security that we once felt was growing so distant now, and I could do nothing to call it back.

Screams from the next alley tore through the silence. I started to tremble in fear. Crouching lower than ever, surrounded by the discarded boxes from the different shops, tears filled my eyes. The ruffles of the trashbags beside me was just another indicator that Jess was still alive. Jess was never someone that could sit still, be it during lessons or dinner. In times of fear and uncertainty, these little actions were more than just comforting. The footsteps of people wearing what seemed like boots grew louder and louder, as the gravel crunched under their feet. Fear shot through my veins as I forced my back against the wall, trying my best to camouflage with the dirt and grime, clutching to the bricks. The shadows of the people passing inched nearer and nearer to where Jess and I were hiding. I heard the reloading of the gun and instantaneously, I froze. My lungs were screaming from the lack of oxygen but I could not breathe. Not now. Not when my life was in danger. Not when that split second's worth of gaseous exchange would cause Jess to lose her life too. I closed my eyes and bit my tongue. Blood started oozing out from where I sunk my teeth into. Fresh blood, tasted salty. Just as I was about to use my finger to dab away the blood from the stinging raw wound, I heard Jess scream.

"Let me go! Let me go!" Her arms flailing, her legs kicking in all directions. Under the moonlight, I could see two streams of tears rolling down her face. Moving slightly from my hiding place, I shuffled my feet slightly to get closer to Jess' attacker. I clenched the metal shard that I picked up a few nights ago. I was going to stab the attacker's foot, and then rescue Jess and we would run away. We would hide. The old castle fort at the end of the street was a good place. Parents always warned their children not to venture within 20 feet of the fort. The last time Jess and I ventured to the gate guarding the fort, we had a good whack from Papa's whip. But papa wouldn't mind now, would he? He and Mama were somewhere among the clouds, they could see that Jess and I were in trouble. I shuffled my feet and moved nearer to Jess' attacker. The metal shard glinted, and though it was slightly rusty, I could still see my reflection. Creeping slowly, I was careful not to rub shoulders with the trash bags. It would give me away.

However, Jess, as agile as ever, realized what I was going to do. Her eyes met mine and she mouthed a "no". Though I could not hear her voice, her eyes conveyed all her emotions. Panic. Fear. Anxiety. Through her eyes, she pleaded. Pleaded for me to retreat. Pleaded for me to hide. Pleaded for me to stay safe, to avoid getting caught.

The last I saw of Jess was the sight of her being dragged away. Two big burly men, each grabbing one side of Jess. Her body arched less than one meter above the ground, the sound of her wails that plagued the silence of the night. Her quivering lips, her shivering body.

Power. They had the power to take away my parents, the power to take away my sister. Powerless. That was me. I have failed. I was void of power to save my sister, to protect my parents. This was an ugly battle for power. And it was no longer just political power. It was a battle for the power and right to live.





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