Paris. 1789. Climax of the French Revolution
That voice froze my innards to the core; my previously numb and paralysed body has been kicked into action by the recognition of her voice. My daughter's voice. My legs start running down the murky street, dodging the odd animal my bare feet slamming against the cobbled flooring. I hear gun-shot and my body returns to its paralysed state. I catch myself in a reflection from the smashed window before me. A mere 15 year old girl, swamped in torn, filthy clothes that hang over her severely mal-nourished body. Her tangled golden hair has been seeped back into a bun, but from the days stresses it's been quickly returning back to her face that used to be porcelain white, but now takes on the shade of a grey-green from the filth of the city. They eyes. Used to be the brightest blue that burned with a child's curiosity and awe now show fear and the bleak grey misery of adulthood.
Then I see it- the flash of daring blue red and white in amongst the folds of fabric. The symbol of a revolution, the symbol of a new beginning and an ending to a living hell. The three colours quickly stitched into a flower that hangs from a broken broach.
And it isn’t my daughter’s strangled screams for help that re-boots me into living again it's the promise of a new tomorrow that’s neatly clasped onto me. I just have to fight today to bring about the prosperity of this new tomorrow.
I sprint down another endless path, hopscotch over torn French flags that lie drowning in its nations muck and come out in to the middle of a war ground. Rebels duck behind a make-shift barricades of old tables and chairs and any other bit of furniture they were able to grab creating a line between them and the army. I look at our opponents, robots in tightly pressed white uniforms, guns at the ready picking us off one by one as if they have been manually instructed how to kill with such precision and such grace. Then there's us. With only a few weapons between the ragged commoners- the only difference that separates us from the enemy is that we are running on pure anger that has been boiling ferociously within us for years, and only know have we come out and exploded our anger as one- this way it makes more of an impact. More of a statement. More chance of a change.
Pure anger turns even the most peaceful man blind, a blindness that momentarily stops emotions and realisation so he may kill as he pleases whilst thinking about the consequences later; when his blindness has seeped out of the emotional scars war will leave behind and all that is left is the guilt. As soon as I clamber into the middle of the firing line everything stops for a second. The kinsmen lower their rifles just a little, the opposition just stare at me, their eyes screaming but their lips sewn firmly shut. I myself have found myself drilled to the grubby ground beneath me my naked feet squirming at the icy contact. This perfect yet poisonous science is quickly broken with the pleading screams of "Maria!" from my side of this revolution that undrill my feet as my head snaps to attention, turning to the people who are the mirror image of me. Thin, filthy and so blindly driven by justice we are prepared to kill anyone. My body turns to run but the enemy bullet is quicker and it's the wound that punctures my lower abdomen that causes me to clatter helplessly to the floor.
I then see who the rebels are. My old Sunday school teacher, my neighbour, brother, friend’s shop-owners, family. All eyes focused on the obstacle in front of them and not on their fallen friend, student, and sister customer or neighbour. I clutch at my side and feel the warm sticky sensation of my own bloods curdling round my hands. I don’t find it putrid the way I found the other fellow fallen members on the ground who swim in their red fluid that was meant for the insides- it actually comforts me which is ridiculous as blood is the daring symbol of death and knowing that I'm feeling my blood, the stuff you're only meant to see once a month is uncontrollably pouring out of me - that in itself should terrify me but as I said before it weirdly comforts me.
I then realise that my daughter is still madly roaming the streets trying to find me. If I was a proper mother no wound would ever separate me for her, nor stop me from trying to track her down but in reality I’m a terrible mother; how can I love a child when I'm still a child myself? I should feel guilt, or heart break or something solely negative surge through my body that should hurt it and make me realise what a terrible unforgivable child I am but instead I feel emptiness. And surprisingly I relish the feeling.
I let my eyelids droop over my cloudy eyes and imagine her before me. Hair brighter than the sun, her petite little frame, cute pink features, face that has still retained the baby fat- that’s the little girl I am to call my daughter. The little six years old who was a repercussion of a secret forced marriage- the little girl who I have failed. Failed to feed or clothe, failed to be there when she was sick or comfort when she was sad, most of all protect her from her country that is crumbling through her fingers- how one step in the wrong direction would cost her life. I wonder where she is now. Dying like her pathetic excuse for a mother maybe? Taken in? Huddling on the side of the park, in the l slit between the fallen tree and Petals Inn like I told her to if she was in trouble, where I told her I would find her and collect her? All these Sinario of my daughter’s wellbeing does finally bring on a wave of sobs that quietly rack my body of its final remains of energy. The puddle of crimson is ever expanding around me now and my breaths become quick and shallow. The tears streak down my mud cacked face, my nose is running and my hair is tangled.
I think the firing finally stops, or I think my hearing has failed me. Either one I am forced into silence. It's scary when you're dying, silence. I want voices to be near me, for a human to hold my hand with a promise that they'll be there for me, even if it’s for my last five minutes. What I want most of all is someone familiar, to pick me up and guide me away and not leave my side until my final breath has been drawn and the machine that carried my essence has stopped working. I think I have been laying here for more than half an hour, now though it’s not emptiness or grief that sprints round me but the red slicing feeling of pure terror. For the first time in years I feel truly young, childish even, I want someone to help me, cure me, do something to stop the lingering reality of death that is edging ever closer with every passing second; I don’t want to die. True life isn't much better but it’s the prospect of the unknown - of what’s coming next that frightens me the most. No. No help me. Anyone. Drastic times lead to drastic measures- I do the last thing I know how to do-. , I lean my head back, take in as much air as I can muster and begin to scream.
I open my eyes and my fuzzy eyesight just makes out a blob of colour before me, I then hear the distinct, robotic voice of a human. I clasp out and grab that persons flesh, I don't understand what they’re saying to me but all I reply is "stay with me.Please don’t go. I'm nearly gone just five more minuets" over and over. The blob before me stays, they stroke my hair and I feel a bandage being wrapped round my heavily infected wound. Everything starts to fade out, my grip on the blob lightens slightly, and I feel the hands of death slowly easing me away;
I die to the sound of that person’s voice suspended in harmony singing the familiar nursery rhyme about Brother John and how he needs to ring the Matins bells.