We have been walking forever it seems. Yet I feel as if these trees are familiar. Have we been walking in circles? I do not know. All I know is that my feet hurt, it’s cold and that my heart is holding on by a thin line. It’s breaking quickly and if it doesn’t mend, I too will soon be broken. The trees surround us like walls of a maze and the air is thick with fog. The ground we walk with bare feet on is damp and squishy, often rocks stab my feet. I walk on unknown grounds with complete strangers. I know they are only trying to get to safety, as I am. But a girl can’t help wondering if they have bad intentions. This mob of homeless, dirty, heartbroken people are all running from the same thing. War. We are the ones who have been scarred and destroyed by this evil force. Many more have been hurt in this way, but they were too sacred to rebel against. We are running because we want to be free. Because we want to live a life free of fear. But we still worry that this dream may never come true. Many children are apart of this group. They are skinnier than the rest of us. They have no innocence left in their eyes, they have seen reality and it’s crushing their young, pure souls. Their spirits have been trampled on.
My name is Poppy. I often think why my parents named me that. But I never got to ask them. I was sent to serve for the war at age three. It was by government. I never knew them. Instead I knew the harsh sound of the whip that came down on children’s backs when we did something wrong. I grew up with a soldier as my mother and a captain as my father, I grew up with war training and nothing more.
I made one friend. She was one of the luckier ones, she wasn’t transferred until she was six. She talked of her house and of her parents; and I was jealous. Her name was Zellie. Her soldier number was 355, mine was 509. That was what the captain called us. We used our real names for each other. Then we were sent to the real war, we didn’t last for long. A whole lifetime of training is not enough for the terrors of warfare. She was killed. I was not, yet I wish I was when I returned to the base. Then when I was sent out again, I ran. Far away, then I found this group and joined them.
There is one man who leads, I admire him with respect. He makes the decisions of where we go and when to stop. When I joined we had many but now… because of the sickness and hunger. We have only a hundred left. If we were attacked, we would have none left.
I often wonder if my name came from the color of my hair. It’s orange, that could be an inspiration. Name’s were given for reasons, but I do not know the reason for mine.
We walk on and on and then we stop. We take a rest for the night. Most of the times we travel through the night but since today sky’s was predicting a cold night, our leader told us that we would stop for the night. We huddle together to keep warm and try to sleep. We don’t dare light any fires for danger of telling our pursuers where we are. A fire would be like a beacon. Soon we are a shivering bunch of skin and bones. Winter is coming on fast and soon we will all freeze.