Category A: Highly Commended (2021) Monash Short Story Writing Competition
Author: Tia Singhal
Title: War is a monster
The night bawled with loud, drastic sounds of help, but no one left their locked houses. War ruined people. I was one that had witnessed it. I was one that had spent the rest of my life alive, tossing and turning in my single, broken bed, despite how successful I was.
It started on 19th October, in a secluded town in North Korea. The pitch black, tranquil sky that we slept under had roared in flames of orange. Little balls of fury burned in the night sky. That’s when people had rushed under the shades of their houses. Some died holding hands of loved ones while less fortunate ones were attacked on the streets and could not even say their last goodbyes.
My mother, however, had predicted this years ago. Despite the rumours that people believed about clairvoyants telling nothing but concoctions, my mother was a real one. So we had already stockpiled on the essentials but that did not change the fact that war was a monster. It would get what it wanted in the end, death. War and death are like partners in crime.
After 3 years of constant bombs, missiles and guns, war hadn’t stopped. So my mum asked for asylum. It was not after one year that they sent back a letter. However, by that time, she wasn’t the same. She was fragile and not fearless, like she used to be. She would shiver, when someone would even talk to her and would spend nights holding her head in her rocking chair. After reading the letter though, she smiled for the first time since the war.
“Marguerite, you’re going to the United Kingdom “she endeavoured in a sweet voice.
I tried to feel felicitous but my mind lingered on what she had just said ‘you’re’.
“What about you?” I asked.
“There is only one vacancy darling but I’ll come after some time, don’t you worry” she said.
“NO! I am not going without you! “I shouted.
“I promise Marguerite that we will meet again very soon,” she said.
I looked into her olive green eyes and then spat out a “Fine, only if you’re going to come soon,” I replied.
So there, I was getting ready to go to my new home; The United Kingdom, to which I would be travelling by a boat. I stepped onto the brown surface of the boat as it moved from side to side on the teal, serene lake. The rower remained quiet the whole time, wary not to move an inch of his mouth. My mother stood outside, waving goodbye to me, with a broken smile. That’s when the ear piercing sound of a gun reverberated through the night. I opened my mouth to scream but the rower covered my mouth with his hand. “ Shhh” he whispered and I couldn't yet, even mourn my mother’s death. I watched my mother’s stone-like body lie on the grey pavement, blood flooding out from her body. War is a monster.