“Where am I!?” I shouted … but no one replied. It was as quiet as a grave. I waited for a few minutes to get a response but my thought was the only thing that broke that silence. I need to do something. I lifted my arms upwards in response to my thought, but I couldn't move them. I'm tied! It took me a while until I realized I wasn’t able to see anything. Then “bang!” I think my heart skipped a beat when I heard that sound.
“Wh… who’s there!”
I decided to ignore the noise and try to escape.
After many failed trials of breaking free, I felt the burning tears fall down on my cheeks. My eyes were crying tears and my wrists were crying blood. At that point, I agreed to accept reality.
“You’re going to die,” a voice came and faded as quick as lightning.
For a second, I doubted my hearing, but it came again as if it was reassuring me that it was real.
“You’re going to die,” it repeated over and over again.
Each time I heard that voice, it gave me a reason to want to hold on to life. I didn’t want to die. I don’t want to accept reality. I changed my mind.
“You’re going to die!” it got louder and more intense.
I felt my heartbeat in my head and my hands. I felt adrenaline rush through my veins. I nodded my head in disagreement.
“I’m not going to die,” I whispered.
“I’m not going to die,” I repeated, each time louder than the one before.
I felt set free when I said those words. I felt that it was becoming a fact each time I said it.
“You ARE going to die,” the voice came again stronger than before.
“I’m NOT going to die!” I responded.
It felt like it was a non-stop circle of arguments. I wanted it to end.
As I was struggling to snap out of my nightmare, I heard screams. My sister! “No!, No!” my sister shouted at the top of her lungs. I jumped out of my trash bag and ran to her. I pushed her back and forth hoping she would wake up before we got unwanted visitors. She woke up! I pulled her into my bare and dusty chest trying to comfort her. I was able to see fear in her big, dark brown eyes.
“It’s ok,” I said, but I didn’t believe those two words myself.
Slowly, she drifted back to sleep while I held her tightly in my arms. Her body was cold as ice. It looked as if her stomach was sticking to her back. I stared in space for a long time until I fell asleep again.
Sunlight came from behind the wrecked building into the narrow and pitch black alley.
“Let’s go,” I said.
“To where?” my sister replied as she stood up and stretched.
“I dunno but you know it’s not safe here. We need to keep moving,” I said while I grabbed my backpack.
“I’m hungry,” she complained.
“Uhhh,” I replied as I was looking around hoping to find something to satisfy her hunger.
“There!” I said joyfully.
There it was, our only source of food only a few meters away from us. I glanced back at my sister and she looked at me, her mouth frozen into a big smile. I never saw her smile after the war with ISIS started.
We sprinted to the trash can, yet we were quiet. Every step we took made us closer to “heaven” as my sister would say. I could see shattered glasses covered with blood, I saw wrecked buildings, and I saw bodies in the corner of my eye while I was sprinting to “heaven”, yet I saw hope, everything was bold and colorful. I felt like I was reborn. I felt as if the breeze was talking to us saying “hope”.
When we got there, her smile was even bigger than before, the sky was baby blue with a bunch of white clouds. It did feel like we were in heaven. A part of me wanted time to stop and just live in that moment of happiness.
We opened the trash can together then we both looked down to find out what treasure it had inside it. My sister’s smile slowly faded and turned into a frown. Water filled her eyes and dripped down her cheeks. Her chestnut-colored hair fell on her face. All the bold colors turned grey along with the sky. The trash can was empty. I looked at her then at the trash can, back and forth for a while. I knew we were going to die. I recalled that moment from my nightmare and I thought “maybe it was true. Maybe we are going to die.”
“Ahmad! Ahmad! Wake up, please!” I heard a voice, a different one.
“Huh…?” perplexed, I replied.
I opened my eyes, but I shut my eyelids immediately because it was too bright.
“They are here! Help is here,” I heard my sister’s voice.
I stood up and examined my surroundings. We were still in the alley. I turned around to see two men standing with smirks on their faces. One was bald and the other one had short black hair. I looked at my sister and she nodded to assure me they were good people . I held my sister’s hand and we walked together toward them. The breeze was real this time, I felt it and I knew it was real.
“Come on, let’s get in the car,” the man with the black hair said calmly.
He moved aside and pointed at the red car behind him. My sister and I walked to the car. I let my sister go in first then I got in.
“You're safe now. We'll take you to a foster home in Jordan, south from here,” the bald man said. His smirk turned to a big smile when he said that.
“Are you ok?” my sister said looking concerned.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I just keep having that same nightmare and then waking up and finding the trash can empty,” I replied.
“Oh, that happened a long time ago,” my sister said.
I knew she wanted to say more but she was young, she didn’t know what to say. She put her head on my lap and closed her eyes. She knew it was safe. I knew it was safe. I looked out the window and I thought I’m not going to die.