Don't Turn Back

March 24, 2011
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Bloated clouds clung to the bloodshot horizon, streaked through with orange from the descending sun. Mountains rose up like stone walls in the distance, flaunting their sublime power over a world of terror and strife. Lacing the hazy air was the smell of gunpowder.

I glanced down at my scuffed boots, noting the tattered soles and crusted leather. The boy followed my gaze, mournful eyes full of longing. After a long moment I removed the shoes, placing them on the dirty, blood-stained feet of the boy. He stared at me for a minute, shocked at this unwarranted act of kindness. He pulled back dry, cracked lips in an imitation of a smile that could have almost been comical.

I stood on a low rise overlooking the city of Tripoli, its graceful streets now marred by the violence that consumed the capital. The air had a thick, hazy quality to it, like one was swimming through a dust storm. Sand engrained itself under toenails, in eyelashes, and between teeth. It lapped at my shins like the waves of a tawny ocean

I watched the dust billow up in clouds behind a vehicle barreling up the slight incline. I turned and looked to the small cliff at my back. Fifty foot drop. Don’t chance it. An unmarked van, bullet holes peppering the white sides, screeched to a halt beside me.
“Filthy American” A man leaned out the window and sneered, puckering his lips and spitting on my bare feet. I stared defiantly down the barrel of the gun leering in my face.
“A cikin akori-kurar. Get in van.” The rifle crept closer to my head.

His face contorted, a muscle jumping in his cheek. He thrust the door open and threw his fist into my gut. I doubled over as he beat the barrel of the gun on my head, screaming senselessly. My vision flickered, and I felt blood trickling down my temple as I hit the ground. Sand filled my mouth as the sound of the blows raining down upon my body faded.

I woke to the smell of cigars and stale urine. I could feel the shallow rise and fall of someone breathing beside me. Taking my bearings, I could see through the partition separating us from the drivers seat of the white van- three cruel faces outlined in grimy metal diamonds and wreathed with a halo of smoke. The sound of pebbles hitting the side was unbearably loud.

A woman lay next to me, dress torn and hands roped. The whites of her eyes rolled above sunburned cheeks stained with salty tear tracks. I inched closer to her and squeezed her hand as best I could, silently winging a prayer to God, wherever he was.

As the van rumbled along beneath a sky of blood and honey, above a land of smoke and tears, the sands shifted, marking the progress of those before us, and any to come after. For we were the witnesses, the rebels, the martyrs of a struggle for independence and freedom, and we would level our guns with our heads held high until each and every bare-footed child was liberated from the sands of oppression.

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PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 1, 2011 at 6:26 pm
good work  keep it up  could you please check out and comment on my story Manso's Shame  i would really appreciate the feedback
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