Only Ash Remains – Grace Messimer

DSC_0022.jpgOnly ash remains as I step through the knee-high piles of debris and ash, some gray, some white, some completely blackened by the fire and bombs that burned everything to the ground. I looked around for any sign of life, any sign of my small hometown from before it was burned to the ground.

My boots are covered in the flaking ash, standing in a spot that may have been my house or my family. I do not know if there was an evacuation, if my mother and father and brother had any warning to leave before they too burned to ash like a phoenix unable to be reborn.

I was numb. Did I still have a family? Was I still a daughter or a sister, or just an orphan of war? My troops could have been responsible for this. The war that killed nearly half of the men and women fighting on our side and over two-thirds of theirs. Everyone seemed to forget that there were sides, turning against each other when we needed unity most. The line have blurred in the past three years to the point that I didn’t know who were really the victorious heroes and who were the villains slain by gunfire and bombs.

I was sixteen when I entered; my father was crippled, my mother unable to train for a war at her age, and I was the oldest. My brother was ten at the time, and now I don’t know if he ever lived past thirteen.

I see smoke in the distance, knowing that it was leftover from one of the hundreds of bombs dropped on my country – we went from oldstyle warfare to a nuclear war and air raids within a year, and thousands were killed every month from the war. I don’t even remember what started it, just that it was the reason I left home to train and join the fight to protect my country from theirs, New-Russia versus New-Hong Kong that soon thirteen other countries would join. What would be considered the fifth World War. After a while the fighting becomes bloodier and dirtier, and you no longer remember why you joined when everyone you love at home is probably going to get killed anyways. And it is with the sound of a final stone pillar crashing to the ground and cracking that I realize it does not matter if it was my troops or New-Hong Kong that destroyed my town, but that someone on the other side was feeling the same despair, that thousands of children were orphans and millions of people were casualties because of a disagreement that didn’t matter now that the majority of people in office when the war started were now dead.

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