The City by the Sea
My dream begins the way it always begins, with me scrambling up the rocky hill. Rust colored pebbles tumble down the incline, kicked free by my slipping feet or shaken loose by my climbing hands. I’m trying with everything I have to reach the top of that hill. It’s not a desperation as much as it’s a desire; I’m thirsty for the view from the peak.
When I reach the summit I drink it in. There’s the green field that’s calm, silent, and fertile. Beyond it the hills descend into my destination, The City by the Sea. Every night I dream of its serpentine streets populated by a mosaic of mismatched houses. There’s joy in the individuality of the homes, each one with a distinct flavor but all welcoming. Beside The City is the sea, a massive expanse of cool clean water. I imagine I can smell it, though I’ve never been to the sea before. I can’t explain what it is I do smell, but it’s clean and fresh. Welcoming somehow.
I want to run through that field. I want to feel the wind on my face and the grass between my toes. I take a step down the hill –
I wake in my bed, dust flying in through the open window. A mortar blast must have woken me. Sister is screaming again. I don’t scream anymore. I’m not sure I can be startled now, it’s as if all the startles I had got used up over the last few months. Father runs over to check me for wounds but I just shake my head. Mother is squeezing sister, her hands closed tight over her small ears. She’s only three, she doesn’t understand what is happening. She doesn’t know about our land or their land or why anyone would want this over that. Father says the people fighting outside understand that, but I think they just think they understand.
There are no mortars in The City by the Sea. There are no land mines in that field either. I try to get back to sleep but sister is still crying. I pray to God to take me to that city.