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Invisibility Is Not A Super Power
A walk of pattering footsteps crunching the grassy fields soon transitioned to a rapid sprint. He gripped the rifle strung by a strap across his back. A rustle in the bushes caught his alert, yet faltering attention. Not daring to take the smallest peek behind his back, he tried not to think of how bad it could be. Had they found out about his escape? No, it couldn’t be. After all that preparation, he had to go back. He hadn’t even made half the journey. Family-it was a word he’d gone the last year without acknowledging the existence of. What was his name? Who, exactly was he? All in his mind was how to return back home, if one was even left for him.
His breathing rasped, stamina slowly escaping, as he took longer gasps of air. No, not yet. He couldn’t stop. Shadows danced in front of his eyes. Throat parched with thirst, stomach growling with deprivation of any fuel, he sank to his scabbed knees. Although the feeling was enough to make anyone burst into hysterical sobs, he dared not let a single line of emotion show. Who knew who was watching? This was Uganda, amidst a civil war. There was nothing too drastic that could occur, no happenings too horrific. They were all deemed regular. But, it wasn’t like they were rejoiced at. It was exactly the opposite. People prayed that it would end. The Terror vanquished by some savior. Someone out there that could possibly, do something.
Trained in using weapons such as grenades and guns, and having fought many battles, he thought that at age eleven he would be all right. Yes, he was eleven years old, and an LRA member. This stood for The Lord’s Resistance Army. It wasn’t like he had a choice otherwise, having been abducted and taken to this remote area. Forced to murder those he held dear and given drugs, he longed for a fresh start. In his heart, he held the thought that everything would be fine, just like when he had been taken away. Too tired to even move another muscle, he lay on the rocky dirt ground. Would he make it? His eyes closed, and he fell into a deep slumber.
He opened his eyes to the sound of a calling person. Heart thudding, he sat up erect. Fear flooded through his veins. It could not be, his desire for freedom had to be fulfilled. “He is here! I have found him!” Alas, he knew all was lost now. The gun clicked, as it was being loaded up. Voices soon projected into his ears. “Thought you could leave without being noticed?” He sighed, and hoped. He hoped that someday, there would be a change. Children would be educated, given a home, and food to eat. Perhaps, those like him would be given a name, not just a meaningless set of numbers. The weaponry would be replaced with a pencil and a notebook. They would write, bringing honor to their families. They would learn about valuable things, not just the best ways to set an explosive. He slowly closed his eyes, and allowed himself to be dragged ruthlessly away. Taken back to the starting point of his journey. It was like he hadn’t moved from the spot at all. I am sorry mother and father, if you can hear me still, he thought. I failed to return to you. But, don’t worry. A day will come, and our voices shall all be heard, louder and clearer than any gunshot. We will unite, and as one force, drive this out of Africa. Someday, when we will open all eyes. Someday, when we shan’t be invisible no more.
“Hey, did you hear about-“ Kendra and her friends were sprawled lazily around her room on a Friday afternoon. She randomly surfed the Internet, until she spied something that caught her eye.
“Hey guys, come here, look at this!” She called over to the other two who were absent-mindedly looking at magazines or had earphones plugged into their ears. Her eyes looked over the website, then widened in shock at the content.
“What is it Kendra?” One named Sophie asked, barely looking up from the copy of Twist.
“Probably just some other random thing she saw and is overreacting about, as always!” Brooke muttered, scrolling down her list of songs on the ever-present iPod in her hand.
“Guys, these kids, who are like, nine, have guns!” Her eyebrows arched up high on her forehead. “They’re being abducted, like kidnapped, and-“
“ Jeez, Kendra, chill out! They’re all the way in Africa, not next door!” Brooke retorted, rolling her eyes in frustration.
“Yeah, it’s not like we can do anything. We can’t walk over and tell the dude who started it to stop!” Sophie let out, as if everything she said had to be in perfect line with Brooke’s opinion.
“Well we can try, right?” Kendra tentatively questioned her friends.
“Hey, did you know that Justin Bieber-“
At that moment Kendra knew her battle was lost. There was no use debating with these guys about world issues. They’d never understand. No matter how good of friends they were, all their lives seemed to consist of was gossip or pop music.
Later after Brooke and Sophie left her house, Kendra looked over the website some more. I have to do something about this, she thought. Nobody can do something that vile and just get on doing it! Her mind filled with opportunities to try and do something. Aha, she had it! It was the perfect idea.
“Really Kendra, a speech in the commons and a new club signup?” Brooke asked, not believing what she saw.
“Yeah, I decided I wanted to do something about it, so I did!” Kendra’s remark was confident.
“You are going to be left so behind if you keep doing all this! Just let it go! Why would we want to hang out with you if you’re so nerdy?” Kendra blinked in disbelief. These were her friends. Friends were meant to support you and be encouraging. Not tell you that you would end up a social outcast to your face. Silently, she stormed off, leaving her ex-friends behind. If they wouldn’t support her, who cared? However, now Kendra didn’t feel all that confident.
The audience was large, due to the fact that she had put posters everywhere. The pin drop silence itself was deafening to Kendra, nervousness coursing through her blood. Slowly, she cleared her throat, and began. “Well, I wanted you to come and listen to me, today, because I have a problem to address.” The crowd’s eyes were all focused on her, not a blinking eye in sight. Wow, Kendra thought, nobody’s laughing! “So, this problem is that, in Africa, in places like Uganda and The Congo, there are horrible things happening. Kids are being kidnapped, taken from their homes, and given drugs. They’re trained to set of explosives and use rifles. This isn’t some video game to be thought of as raw, like all of you say. Some of the children are as young as 7 years old!” She felt her neck burning with heat, as the wide-open eyes of so many focused on her. “These kids are sometimes forced to do terrifying things like murder their own families! They don’t want to, but they are being forced to do all of this, and nobody can save them! Their voices are unheard above all of the ruckus, and people are continuing to suffer.” Her voice had risen quite a bit, and was projecting all around the commons. She could see fear in the eyes of her classmates, and in some, tears forming. “Here, in this school, I doubt any of you knew about this. None of you would have known about anything like this, but all of you would remember what dress some pop star that has no clue of your existence on this Earth wore. You have to see how sad that is, that you could acknowledge something so measly, yet completely ignore this World Issue. What I say is that we open the eyes of the people. We can help bring awareness to this cause. Not I, but We. We will have to work together! Perhaps, if we work together, as one force united, we can make the change. Why, because invisibility isn’t a super power in this case! We can’t risk having these children hidden beneath a cloak of invisibility.” Out of breath, and practically perspiring from the emotion she had put into the words, Kendra stopped talking. Nobody made a sound, and there was no applause at all. Shaking, Kendra walked out of the room, embarrassed.
Wow, Kendra, you really goofed up this time didn’t you? It wasn’t like I was going to make any impact at all. I don’t get why I even-“Kendra, wait, come here!” She heard a call in the back somewhere. Whipping around, her jaw literally dropped open at the sight. Every single person at the assembly had risen and formed a queue towards the sign-up sheet for her club. She couldn’t believe her eyes, and just stood there, speechless. Then she heard a tap on her shoulder, and turned.
“Hey, um, I’m really sorry for everything,” Brooke was standing there, hands hanging limply at her sides.
“Yeah, we didn’t realize it at that moment, but now we know that you really are something special Kendra. What you’re doing is good, it really is. We’re the useless ones.” It was Sophie, speaking more than usual. Kendra didn’t know what to say to them. She missed them so much already, her two best of friends.
“Guys, it’s fine, it really is. Now, go on, sign up, the club won’t be anything without you two there now, will it?” She felt a ray of hope as the smiles on their faces widened. As they ran off, she felt something deep in her heart. We can do this, if we all come together. We can make the change in our world. Today is the start of a New Day.
(1 year later)
He put on his sandals, ready to walk to school. It had been a year since he had attempted his escape, and failed. Since then, some American people had come and changed his entire world. They had given the people of Uganda money for schools and new homes, and sent him to the village where his Mother and Father lived. He had received books in English to read, and even a new laptop computer. The nicest one of them all was a girl named Kendra. She had made sure he got everything he needed and helped him through the process of getting used to his new life. Without her help, he wasn’t sure if he would’ve stopped having nightmares about what had happened in the LRA camps. It was as if his world had taken a turn for the better. Everything seemed so bright, happy and promising. It was as if they had been given another chance at it all. He was right to have hoped, and to never have stopped believing. As he reached his school building, he was handed a paper assignment. He sat down at his desk and wrote his name boldly on the sheet. Baraka: A Blessing.