What I remember most was the howling of the sirens. I was a small child when the war started, and all my memories of that life are tied to that sound. The blaring alarms immediately preceded panic among the adults. Each time, I was grabbed or pulled or carried to shelter where I huddled with my mother and father, neighbors and strangers — many, many strangers — all of us terrified.
Then, inevitably, the explosions, and the screaming and crying and delusional outbursts of those who’d gone mad with fear. Sometimes the destruction came so close I could see the wounded and the dead, the crimson of fresh blood. I was fascinated by the gaping views into the inside of a human body, but my mother would quickly shield my eyes from the horror so I would be spared such memories. Soon came the keening and the weeping. An unbearable sense of helplessness settled upon us like a toxic dust. We remained there, waiting for the all-clear, clinging, shivering; prisoners of our circumstances and our fear.
And then, one evening, the explosions were very loud. A bomb fell on the roof above us, and a large chunk of cement from the collapsing ceiling fell on my head. It killed me instantly.
This was my brief childhood. I did not know it was supposed to be any other way.