“We had been running for days, weeks even. My feet were aching and my heart was pounding as the gunshots became distant and muffled. Baby Mo was lucky; he was being carried by Mama, and yet he was still crying, the ungrateful child. Mama, Papa, Amira were forced to run barefoot across the road, (our shoes had been burned off by the heat from the bombs a long time ago) the rocks jutting out unevenly, causing one of us to trip over quite often. My feet were bleeding and my legs and arms were covered in cuts and bruises. Amira’s right eye was sickeningly yellow and black and had swollen so revoltingly that she looked like a different person completely. It took all of our willpower to not admit defeat and collapse right there on the road, but we knew that if we stayed still for even a minute, we could be bombed.
“A nearby house exploded showering rubble everywhere. My heart sank like a submarine as I thought about the poor souls whose lives had just been taken. It sunk even further as I remembered coming back to our home, arm in arm with Amira and carrying Baby Mo on my hip, our parents chattering animatedly behind us, to find debris everywhere, all of our memories strewn carelessly across the road. That was the moment Papa decided we should run, away from this chaos and to safety. We dug the few remaining bits and pieces out of the wreckage, wrapped it in bits of cloth we found, swung it over our shoulders and set off. We had heard of boats for refugees leaving for England, but they were frowned upon by the government. However, they were our only chance of escaping. We couldn’t take the bus there as they were supervised by the government. Our car had exploded along with our house so we had no choice but to go on foot. Ever since we had started running, my heart had been aching and there was a lump in my throat, never letting me completely forget my sorrow.
“I still refused to believe it.The house which your mother and father came to as a newlywed couple, the house which their whole family, my family have lived in and shared so many fond and treasured memories, the only house that me and my siblings have called home, was in ruins before my eyes.That is an experience which scarred me for life.
“A glint in the distance caught my eye. The ocean, as blue as a sapphire, sparkled in the horizon. I could make out a wooden boat, just big enough to carry 100 people, but I highly doubted it would reach the shores of England. Dozens of people were being herded onto the boat and my family and I allowed ourselves to be herded with them. I closed my eyes until I was safely on the crowded boat, surrounded by my family. That was when I realised how much they meant to me. They were the source of my strength; they were the only reason I managed to keep running. All that mattered to me that moment was that they were alive.
“A horn sounded loudly, ringing in our ears. With a huge jolt, the boat was pushed out to open sea, away from Syria, away from danger. I looked around my family, their eyes wide in incredulity, and I grinned for the first time in weeks, hardly able to believe my luck.
“And that, is my story,” I said, smiling, to the uplifted faces gazing at me.