Bars


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4. What now?

   "No!" I gasped.

   Daisy hung her head sadly and started sniffling again.  I wrapped my arms around my little sister and hugged her tight.  She laid her head on my trembling shoulder and I stroked the little pieces of debris out of her hair.  

   "We're going to be okay," I said, trying to hide my shock at her news about my father.  

   Suddenly Daisy sat upright and looked at me with her bright blue eyes, the intensity of her stare making me nervous.

   "Was mom taken?" she whispered, the fear making her voice rasp.

   "No," I answered, relieved to be able to share some good news.  She sighed in relief and tilted her head back, mouthing praising words to the cross on the ceiling.  I had to smile.  

   "So what now?"  my sister asked.  "What are we going to do?"

   I put my face in my hands.  

   "I wish I could tell you..."

   "You don't know," Daisy concluded sadly.

   "I'm sorry."

   "It's okay."

   We sat in silence for a few moments.

   "But...you know...we're going to have to come up with something," she told me.

   "I know."

   I stood up and blew the hair out of my eyes.   

   "We have to get Mom and find Dad," I said.

   "Yeah.  Let's start with getting help for all these people," my sister replied.

   "Good idea.  Of course we can't just let them all lie here."

   I was trying to stay as positive as possible in order to keep both of us from breaking down.  That was the only way we were going to fix all of this.  

   I grabbed Daisy's hand and pulled her up gently.  

   "Are you alright?" I asked her.

   "Well, considering that my father is missing and my mother is probably unconscious, I am doing just fine."

   I appreciated her trying to lighten the mood, but it really didn't help at all.  But I reminded myself that I was the one who was supposed to be taking care of us.  She shouldn't be trying to help ME.

   We carefully made our way through the wreckage, pulling people out of the mess that was once our church.  I started to cry when I found a girl laying limp in a corner.  She was about Daisy's age, and a sickening thought forced me to recall my own sister huddled in a corner.  I fell to my knees.  I didn't know what I would have done if my loving little sibling had died.  I put my hand about an inch in front of the small girl's mouth.  Tears trickled down my face as I felt no breath on my skin.  I put my hand to the child's cold, pale cheek and moved on.  Once I joined my sister we realized that we had checked the entire area.  We had found only a few other people besides us that had a pulse.  

   And one of them was our own mother.

   "Why would they do this?" my sister asked, breaking the silence.

   "I...I don't know."

   "I don't feel well, Lily."

   "I'm sorry, Daisy," I told her, pulling her close for a hug.  "Why don't we sit for a while?  Then we can go get help."

   In truth, I felt horrible myself.  I was emotionally exhausted.  So I was happy to curl up with my sister, leaning against the wall, trying to rid ourselves of what we had seen.  Mothers, children, elderly, all murdered or wounded.  I wished there was something we could do.  But Daisy was obviously so tired, and I couldn't leave her here to get help.  What if the men were waiting out there for a young child to venture out, only to be kidnapped, or worse?  

   "Lily!" my sister shouted.

   "What?" I replied, startled.

   "Your skirt!"

   "Oh!  Yeah..."

   I had completely forgotten about the gash on my leg.  I guess we were both too scared to notice it before.

   "How?" Daisy whispered, fear written all over her face.

   "I have no idea," I lied.

   I did have one idea.  I knew a man had a gun and was aiming it at my face.  He might have been pushed or startled and hit my leg instead.  But the less my poor sister knew, the better.

   Talking about the wound made me realized how much pain I was in.  I must have been so distracted by the search and the fear that I didn't even think about it-- until now.

   "Oh Lord, Lily, that looks terrible.  I am so scared.  About everything," Daisy choked, wiping her wet eyes.

   "It's going to be okay, Daisy.  Trust me."

   But at that moment, I saw a man standing in the doorway.  He was covered in deep cuts and bruises, and there was a huge bullet hole in his chest.  His eyes were red and puffy, and blood dripped from his mouth.  One of his arms was missing.  

   And the man was my father.

   

 

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