Student or Learner
This is the first part of my short story THE WAR. Please would you proofread it.
I saw them in the distance, on the other side of the meadow: tanks rolling the street, raising clouds of dust, and solders moving in groups, knocking at the doors and rounding up people. The breeze carried the sound of shots and solders’ angry, hoarse voices, which made me shudder with fear. I knew they would soon be here and I would be facing the barrels of their guns and their hateful stares.
Within a few days, we had turned from ordinary human beings into animals - big game, which they could shoot just for fun. I was gripped by panic. I wanted to run away. I wished I could dig myself like a mole into the earth, or fly like a bird and hide in the top of a tall fir, where nobody would ever find me.
I walked down the street, my mind in turmoil. I needed to talk with someone and hear the words of comfort, but the street was empty. An ominous silence had fallen over the neighbourhood. Even the dogs and the birds were silent. Suddenly I saw the woman opening the door of her house and peering outside. I told her, “It’s horrible. They are rounding up men. I must hide somewhere. I don’t know what to do?”
She looked at me calmly with her large, brown eyes and said, “You can’t hide. If they don’t find you at home, they’ll arrest you father.” She cautiously closed the door and stood for a moment asking myself where to go. If I could reach the border I would be safe, but I would not be able to walk so many kilometres without being apprehended. If they caught me fleeing, my death would be horrific.
They would accuse me of being a spy, trying to organise resistance or use some other trump-up charges to torture me for days and finish me off. And even if I succeeded to cross the border and enjoy freedom, how could I live the rest of my life knowing that my father had suffered because of me.
I went into our kitchen and saw my father listening to the radio. His eyes were heavy and tired. My aunt sat at the table, crying silently. We all knew that these moments were so precious. It could be the last we saw each other alive. The excited voice of the newsreader was urging people to give up their weapons.
Then followed the news from the nearby villages where the army was crushing those who opposed the new government. In the last days, the radio was spreading only propaganda, hatred, lies and invented stories to create division between people.
All positive things of the past should be erased for ever and instead new myths would be created, their narrative suitable for the future manipulations.
They knocked at our door. My father walked down the hall and opened it. I heard the soldier’s voice, “The old man. We don’t need you, but we want your son.”
“Why do you need him,” my father asked, “He never harmed anybody. He’s the only son I have.”
“We got an order. All men above 15. We’re not going to harm them.”
I came out and saw them. There were all young men, dressed in camouflage, carrying AK-47 and rocket propelled grenades. One of them said to me, “Take your ID card with you and nothing more, and come with me.” I glanced at my father. He seemed a very old man, much older than he actually was. His already lined face had received dozens of more lines in the last hour. He was silent, his head down, ashamed of his powerlessness. My aunt was standing at the door, sobbing, her hand holding the already wet handkerchief. “Good luck. We are waiting for you,” she managed to say though her sobs.
We went from house to house in an orderly manner; they did not tie us, nor did they use their rifle butts to propel us. The same scene repeated at every home. Men said farewell to their families, kissed their wives and children and joined the group. When we arrived to the house of Mirsad and he came out, one of the soldiers approached him, shook hands with him and started to cry. “I’m so sorry,” he said. “I’ve known you for years; I’ve been working with you so long time and now I have to arrest you.”
His words touched everyone. All these decades people lived together, worked, intermarried, parted, and never questioned nationality and religion. And now all this must be forgotten and hatred must reign supreme.
TO BE CONTINUED
Thank you so much for helping me with my short story.