Bombs fall from the sky in the distance, lethal raindrops bringing death and destruction, my family's death and destruction. Only Bashira, my little sister, and I survived the smoke and fire that filled our small apartment. She coughs, and I hug her closer to my chest, protecting her delicacy and helplessness from the flames that have engulfed our village. I walk past a teddy bear, dirty from the dust and smoke, not daring to consider what might have happened to its owner. Nearing a small, grassy hill, I look back to see the sleek metal birds that have caused this wreckage flying away, leaving my home to crumble into ruin.
My eyes flutter open as the sun climbs above the horizon. Bashira lays next to me, breathing softly, our bodies pressed against the cold ground. She sleeps peacefully, oblivious to the cruelty that surrounds her. My sister awakens as I stand up, her young, brown eyes filled with innocence.
"Nura, where is Mama?" Bashira asks, longing for the comfort and safety of our mother. I turn away, for she cannot glimpse my tears.
"We will see her soon," I reply, my heart aching at such a lie. She pushes herself to her feet, and we begin to walk yet again.
Syria Turkey Border
Thousands of people stream into the border gates of Turkey, a parade of refugees seeking peace. Bashira and I stand near a small oak tree, far away from the desperate and anguished faces of the procession. We are to stay close to the sapling until night falls, when Bashira and I will crawl under an opening in the boundary fence, entering Turkey. I lift my sister into the tree, sitting her on a branch, then sink into the soft earth beside it, drowsiness leading me into a dreamless sleep.
"Nura!" Bashira screams, interrupting the tranquility of my slumber. My eyes open to a warm rain pouring from the heavy storm clouds above. Shouting fills my ears, piercing the silent evening like a knife. Standing up, I process the desolate scene before me. Bombs fall from the starless sky, bringing death and destruction upon those beneath them. Sleek metal birds circle the border gates, preying on those who run. Smoke rises from burnt trees and smoldering grass. My sister jumps from the oak tree and into my arms, hugging me tightly. I cradle her, protecting her fragile innocence, sprinting away from the nightmare that has become our reality. Charred plants scratch at my shins as I race through them. Suddenly, my foot strikes a small rock, I plummet toward the soil, my heart lurches, and Bashira is flying through the air. Something small rapidly plunges through the stormy dusk sky, growing larger as it nears the ground. Bashira lays in the dirt, crying, as the bomb's scarlet glare shines upon her. A raindrop falls on my sister's tender face, reflecting the inhumanity of this world. I hear three beeps, and Bashira disappears, lost to the explosion's flames.
I stumble forward, falling to my knees as the last bird glides away. I begin to crawl under the chain fence, scraping my shoulders against the jagged pieces of steel. Reaching the other side of the border, I stagger further slightly, then drop to my hands. I curl up in the dead grass, and allow tears to stream down my face.
Several pairs of hands seize my arms, pulling me from the ground. Clamor fills the air, and several people shout in a language that I cannot identify. I look up to see a Turkish border patrol in a state of chaos, hurrying around the devastated piece of land that surrounds the tall, metal fence. Two agents walk beside me, dragging me in the direction of a large van. Several frightened faces peer through the tinted windows, undoubtedly other survivors of the attack. As the doors open, I am forced inside the vehicle, joining the refugees within. Once I am seated on a cold bench alongside another Syrian, the motor rumbles, and the van begins to move forward, leaving the scene of destruction behind.
Turkey Bulgaria Border
After traveling miles through a hot, dry landscape, the van halts at yet another towering fence. The Turkish agents accompany me and the other refugees to a gate adjacent to Bulgaria. And then I'm hustled through the entrance to Europe, left alone and abandoned by the border patrol, my only hope to discover a country that will welcome me.
As the dismal sun rises on the horizon, I begin to walk another day. The air is cold, and snow falls from the dark clouds above and onto the dirt trail on which I stand. A bird sings in the branches of a tree, shattering the silence of the forest like breaking glass, and the leaves of a shrub rustle, although no wind blows through the woodland. I withdraw into the shadow of a large pine, observing the path with intent. Suddenly, Hungarian officers emerge from the ferns, sprinting along the trail, pursuing other refugees.
The murmur of voices awakes me from my sleep, as the Syrians around me stir. I force myself to rise to my feet, and exit the small park in which I spent the night. I step onto the small street surrounded by quaint townhouses, and start to wander through the road, passing other refugees along the way. As the sky lightens, another day begins, another attempt to find an accepting home.
The warm lights of storefronts shine upon my face as I travel through the streets of Berlin. I'm startled to have arrived in a country seemingly untouched by devastation and destruction, by explosions and detonations. I see a memorial of handsome stone slabs arranged in a wide, open field; the bronze plaque that marks it dedicates the monument to those who fell victim to the demolition of Europe. But how could a city as beautiful as this have once been reduced to rubble?
Glimpsing an immigration office, I open the doors, and stumble inside, exhausted, but relieved. I stagger toward a counter, and the government official behind it says something in German. I have arrived in a new land of hope and happiness, but I am without Bashira and without my family. But if a ruined Berlin was rebuilt from its ashes, perhaps Syria, my country, my home, can be restored as well, reconstructed from its wreckage.