Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Short Story » Realistic

16+ Violence

Spring

by 100xstupid


Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for violence.

Spring

It's finally nearly Spring. The girl emerges from a dim alleyway to greet the morning light, looks both ways, then scurries down the road, her green eyes sweeping the road systematically, alert. She is hungry and fearful, but so is everybody. There'd been fighting around the airport since December, slowing down the procession of food and blankets into the city. They'd given her a blanket, even though she had one where she slept. But on the way back, there'd been another gunfight and in the confusion she'd lost it to blind panic. The buildings around her are blasted, scorched, but she dares not stop and look. There's some warning when faced with certain threats, but others that creep up on people in the middle of the day and snuff them out entirely without care. The sounds of bombs or gunfire are almost constant during the day. More gunfire, a crackle in the distance from some unknown idealist, reminds her that she's little safer in the morning than during the day. Which side was shooting rarely mattered - a bullet will tear you apart all the same.

The girl darts through alleyways, avoiding the main streets as much as she can. This was a daily occurence throughout the winter, but something is different today. It is still cold, she is still hungry, she can still hear the guns. For a while, it had looked like the rebels might take the airport, back in January, but that hadn't lasted. They had been hoping that somebody could send food, beds, anything from far away lands, but it had been fruitless. The girl knew where she was headed: the market. Most of the surrounding buildings, at least those on the ground, are abandoned. Along every street there are apartments hit by the constant shelling or the bombs, their windows destroyed by blast. They say that blast shakes up your brain and turns it to soup, killing people even if they aren't bleeding. The girl once saw it, or at least she thought so. One of the dead men on the ground looked fine, like he was just sleeping, until somebody else ran over and took his gun. They also say that once you lose your gun, your soul is ready to walk As-Sir??t, to heaven or to hell. The girl wonders how many of her family have crossed the bridge since it began, but she doesn't know. She nearly steps out into the road, but something in her, a sense she cannot identify, pulls her back for another second. A man steps out of a building with a rifle over his shoulder, strolling casually into the road and glancing around, the furtive gesture that lets you know that you are in Damascus. His comrades in arms appear, one by one, behind him and spread out across the main road, all sharing the same fearful shadow, as if they know they are being watched. More gunfire, from the motorway, causes the men to prick their ears and the leader to start shouting, pointing north along the road. They follow his lead, and begin a marching chant in rugged unison.

"Allah! Syria! Bashar is enough! Allah! Syria! Bashar is enough!"

The girl watches them intently, until they are far enough down the road that they cannot hit her, and, with a final check of the road, scurries out, heading again for the market. She is only halfway across when the familiar whistling sound begins. Except it's not just a whistle, as it develops quickly into a whine; a screech; a roar. The girl panics and runs for shelter at the other side of the road, only to see a flash, then hear a bang. Down the road, the soldiers are in disarray - they've been hit by a mortar strike, probably coming out of the Babbila district. The girl keeps running, escaping into another alleyway, again as deserted as the homes surrounding it, just as a group of men burst out of a building behind her. She cannot help but scream as they open fire on the first group to cries of "Allah" mixed between jubilance and fear. The morning is young, but already the fighting has resurged. There have been many deaths, some of them to the bombs, some of them to the guns. There were a few, the unlucky ones, who had starved.

She almost reaches her destination. She almost makes it to paradise, or to her next meal at least. But fate is cruel to the children of Damascus. Another sign, another sound of danger, this time a low rumble, accompanied by a similar whooshing to that of the mortar strike as it draws near. The girl throws herself to the ground, just as her mother had taught her. The last thing the girl does before she blacks out is to pray in her head that her mother is ok, that she will come back today. Then, a mighty bang and she feels the air being ripped from her lungs. Darkness follows, stealing her vision.

*

The blurry outline of a face, covered in hair, appears before her, briefly, but the light stings her eyes and she snaps them shut. She blinks a few times, cautiously, but can't make out the figure in front of her. She doesn't even remember how she'd got there. Her ears are still ringing with a shrill shrieking sound, but there is a faint noise, a voice, speaking in a language she doesn't understand. The voice continues for a moment, making no sense, but eventually switched to Arabic, in a broken dialect.

"Hello? Can you hear me?" It's a kind voice. The girl nods, but the motion sends sharp pains up and down her body. Looking down, she notices that she's still in one piece. Her vision is clearing slightly; she can tell that the lady is white and wonders for a moment if it'll be another useless blanket, or better some food.

"I need you to stand up for me, can you do that? We need to move you." The voice continues, but the girls shakes her head, pushing away with what little strength she had. Her ears are still ringing and her head pounding, but she knows she needs to flee. It's coming back to her, there must've been a bomb close by.

"I need to get to the market... my mum, she..." The girl's voice trailed off as she realises that she smells something burning. She looks down the street to see sickly black smoke, curling spitefully out towards her like the claws of ??Ibl??s. The market is burning, the stalls torn apart like paper before the blast. The white lady helps the girl to her feet and starts to walk her back the way she came, out of the alley. Out in the road, a shell casing lies, out of sight of the carnage it had caused, save for a plume of acrid smoke trailing lazily towards the sky. The young lady leads the girl back across the main road and into a building, then up three flights of to a landing. The girl drags her feet, almost tripping as she tries to keep up with the nervous stranger. The woman chooses a door, number 24, then knocks three times. Two quick knocks, a pause, then another. The girl lets go of her hand, looking scared, as the door swings open. A man, also white, stands in the doorway and breaks out into a relieved smile when he sees the woman, embracing her quickly and speaking in an alien tongue. The girl is nervous and instinctively wants to run, but the shock of the explosion has paralysed her nerves and she knows she wouldn't be able to outrun either of the two mysterious strangers. The man notices her and asks his companion something, who appears to beseech him for something. He sighs and rubs his forehead, before kneeling down and facing the girl, switching to Arabic.

"Hey, little girl, what's your name?" He asks kindly. She doesn't speak, watching his face. He frowns for a moment, then stands up and looks over to the lady. She squats down to the girl's level and takes over his line of interrogation.

"Do you have any family? Anyone we can find for you and get you back?"

The girl remains mute, thinking of her mother. The woman gazes at her for a moment, then gives up and turns to speak to her companion again. They exchange conversation for a moment, but he shakes his head. The lady starts to raise her voice, but thinks better of it and says something else. He shakes his head as he replies, resolute. He withdraws into the apartment, not looking at the girl. A moment of silence, before she turns to the girl and crouches down.

"I'm so sorry... we can't help you. Will you stay and talk to the camera? It's the best we can do."

The girl stares at the lady for a moment, then shakes her head and backs away, before turning and heading towards the stairs. She's still hungry, too hungry to stay with these strangers. Outside, there is another whining sound, with a whoosh and another great bang. She needs to find food, or another aid handout, or her mother. The reporters have nothing for her.


Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.







Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
168 Reviews


Points: 770
Reviews: 168

Donate
Sun Dec 29, 2013 12:48 am
yubbies21 wrote a review...



Hello! The World Review Cup just started recently and I'm here to lend a hand to the Commonwealth, and to you!

First things first, I want to commend you for tackling such a realistic topic and being able to turn it into a fiction story, but one that everyone could believe is true. Many people don't understand the conflicts in Syria, and this can bring that topic to light in their lives.

Hannah got a lot of the grammatical errors, so I'm not going to touch on that very much in this review. Instead, I'm going to focus on the character and her interactions with people and things.

I feel like I need to get to know this girl some more. I know that she is in a place full of war, that she thought she might meet her mom in the marketplace, and that she speaks Arabic. But really, I have so many questions that I'm not satisfied not knowing the answers to.

How did she get separated from her family, especially her mom? You mention her mom in lots of places, but how come she isn't with her daughter? Maybe you could incorporate a flashback near the beginning, maybe when she remembers her mom teaching her how to hit the ground when you hear the bomb coming. The flashback would fit in there nicely, just a few more details about her life before this story.

At the end, when the reporters are trying to get her to talk, are there any more reasons she doesn't want to talk for the cameras, other than the fact that they have nothing for her? Was she just hoping for a hand-out? Is that it? Is she prejudiced against the reporters or the country they come from? Is she jealous or the rich conditions she knows that they have in their country? I feel that she needs a more concrete reason, plus it would add another strong emotion to the story. It just seemed a little bit shallow and under-developed to me.

Speaking of strong emotions, I didn't feel any in the story. The character just seemed like she was all tough and could take care of herself, cool, calm, and collected. I couldn't see her feeling some huge emotion, like the desperation of getting out of the way of that bomb, or the longing to find her mom. I felt like there were some places where it just didn't work emotion wise.

Senses. It's all about senses. Touch, taste, smell, hearing, sight. What does the character touch that has a unique texture as they make their way through the city? What does the character taste in their mouth as the bullets are flying? What does the character smell as they groggily get up after the bomb? I did see that you had them smelly the smoke, which was an excellent detail. Sight was done well throughout the story, as you had some avid descriptions. You covered hearing well throughout the story, especially in these places:

The sounds of bombs or gunfire are almost constant during the day. More gunfire, a crackle in the distance from some unknown idealist, reminds her that she's little safer in the morning than during the day.


Another sign, another sound of danger, this time a low rumble, accompanied by a similar whooshing to that of the mortar strike as it draws near.


Over-all, this was an excellent piece. Just remember, nothing is ever perfect. Even the greatest writers of our or anytime have had flaws in their works. Hope that this was an encouragement and a help!

Happy World Cup Review Day! ...and a Happy New Year!

yubbies21




User avatar
1313 Reviews


Points: 23286
Reviews: 1313

Donate
Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:10 am
Hannah wrote a review...



Yo yeah! I am leaving some comments as I work my way through:

But on the way back, a man had fired a gun and she'd dropped it with a fright and not gone back.


This sentence troubles me. First, you say a man fired a gun as if this main character saw the specific man who fired it to know that it was a man, but if she saw the person who fired the gun, she'd know why and in what direction, and would be able to tell more about the scene than just "he fired a gun". Plus, I feel like she'd certainly jump or startle if she saw the man fire it, but it would be a different level of fear than the blind kind that would cause her to drop the blanket. I feel like in knowing fear, she'd grab it tighter. So, there's an easy fix: someone fired a gun, and there's a more interesting fix: fleshing out the scene with reality.

she dare


she / he = dares

There was some warning when faced with certain threats, but others that creep up on people in the middle of the day and snuffed them entirely without care.


There's no transition between this sentence and the next. It comes out of nowhere, is not related to this girl's narrative of movement, and would do better up near the narrative of how she dropped the blanket, since that's related as I just talked about.

A crackling in the distance, like the soft pattering of the campfires she had once made with her brother and grandmother.


Ehmmm, I'm not sure that's the thought she'd be having if it scared her so much to be out she'd literally drop her blanket in fear. It doesn't feel right to me to have this comparison, even though in some sense it's artsy and poetic to compare this fire to that fire. She'd not be having these thoughts while out on the streets though.

Which side was shooting rarely mattered - a bullet will tear you apart all the same.


Yeah, this is poetic and meaningful, but I can see that this short piece is all over the place. Here's another example:

The morning is young, but already it has claimed every life it can. Some of them to the bombs, some of them to the guns. A few of them had simply lost the will or the physical energy to keep going and had starved.


There's this desire to wax poetic about this that doesn't sit right with me. It goes a little over the line into melodrama. I don't think that it works well for what I think you're trying to do. You want to represent the situation truthfully. You want people to think about this, to realize that this is how people live. It may be fiction as you've written it, but it's not. The thing is that you're not a reporter there, and you can not bring us non-fiction. So you think the next best thing is writing fiction with the intent to get us to know about it.

But putting your opinion in every few seconds is not getting us to know about it and want to think about it. It is making your reader feel lectured and babied. "There were people dying and dying, and some just giving up hope because war is hopeless and bad" is what I basically get from the last passage I quoted. I feel like there's a big shifting of thought that needs to happen for this piece to be successful.

For example, why do you choose to represent the situation of children in Damascus by providing a narrative of one being rescued by a white woman? As if that's the solution to the war? It betrays a thought process that doesn't do justice to the simple laying down of events that would invite critical and genuine thought.

Besides that, if you're not willing to give up the slant from which you're writing this, the dialogue between the woman and the girl is uninteresting, flat, and caused me to skip straight to the end where I discovered nothing had happened in this story except that the girl found a white woman who supposedly will take care of her. This is the beginning of a story, not a complete one in itself, I think.

I hope this doesn't come off as harsh, but your author's note told me that you wanted people to realize they could help. You only lay out "going there and finding a kid and giving them a blanket" as a way to help, really. I dunno. For example, were we to see the delivery of the shipment of blankets, we'd connect more that they may have been donated, that maybe they are of different colors instead of the standard we imagine with well-planned emergency care.

I know this is difficult, because you are not there. I hope this was helpful, this review, in some way.

PM me if you have any questions, please.

Good luck and keep writing!




User avatar
69 Reviews


Points: 3549
Reviews: 69

Donate
Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:11 am
Butterfly18 says...



I'm thinking of writing a screenplay inspired by the conflict in Syria. I admire you for tackling this topic in your fiction writing. :)





It's easier to come up with new stories than it is to finish the ones you already have. I think every author would feel that way.
— Stephanie Meyer