Gray Pieri

In The Wake Of War

It was sunny. A warm breeze whisked through the leaves. Flowers were beginning to bloom. The sweet sound of birds played in the air. The river ran smoothly, glistening in the morning light. But no boats sailed on its beckoning water. No children were heard playing. The usual morning bustle was not heard from the village. No cars were heard winding down the road. The village was filled with an eerie silence, only broken by the church bell, not to call all to church but rather serving as a warning.

I remember the day well. I came down stairs and began to put my shoes on to go out and play. But my mother called for me to stay in. I rushed into the kitchen to nag her to let me out. The look on her face told me I best not resist. Dad and Mom were crowded over the radio, trying to understand the broadcast through all the static. I sat down by the kitchen table and listened quietly. The man on the radio spoke in a deep, slow voice. I could not understand what he was saying, too many words I didn’t know. After a while my dad clicked off the radio. My mother got up and looked out the kitchen window across the wide river. A lone tear ran down her face. I had never seen my mom cry before, even when our dog, Skip died. Her crying scared me. I walked over to my dad. He was staring at the floor. I asked him what was happening. He just stared. Then my mom said quietly “your dad is going to have to go away for a while”. Why I asked? WHY? Now breaking into tears, my mom said nothing. Confused and upset, I ran out the door. Not knowing where to go I ducked into the candy shop. I sat down at one of the tables and cried, I didn’t know what else to do. I was lost, confused, and scared. Why did Daddy have to go away? Why were they listening to the radio? The storeowner Joe interrupted my thoughts. He was a nice guy, so it felt good to see him. “You alright there big fella?” he said with a smile. “What is happening?” “Why is daddy going away?” I asked. He explained it to me. The people across the river had become mad at us and they are coming to take over our country. He said that Daddy was going to help stop them. When I got back home, Dad was gone. He never came back. Neither did my best friend Tommy’s father.

A few weeks later I was awakened in the middle of the night by angry yelling down stairs. I quickly pulled on my slippers and went to check it out. There were a bunch of men with guns. One of them snagged me up and threw me into the truck. My mom and all my neighbors were in there too. The little ones were crying. I wanted to cry, but when I looked over at my mom, she was calm. I tried my best to be mature and not cry. The truck took us to a big boat down by the river. There were hundreds of boats. People were being herded onto them. I pulled my moms sleeve and asked if these men were with Daddy “Are they saving us?” “No, these are different men” she answered. When we got off the boats on the other side, I quickly realized that we were certaintly not getting rescued. The angry men were pushing people this way and that as they got off the boat. They grabbed any belongings we had and tossed them into a big pile. Amongst all the confusion I got separated from my mom. One of my friends grabbed me and told me that all the men were supposed to go this way. He seemed excited, like this was one big adventure. I knew it wasn’t . I looked back one last time to try to spot my mother. I saw her. She was desperately trying to fight her way through the crowd to get to me, but then one of the angry men pushed her back. That was the last time I saw her. All of the men were forced into little buildings, four people to each bed.

There I stayed. I grew up with the horrors of this place. Often looking across the river in loneliness, thinking of home.


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