War-entine lands/ A short story by Feras Werr

     
    The hearts are shattered to a thousand pieces in these lands; the roses of love dripping with the red liquid of life; restaurants are empty, parks full of the echoes of a once peaceful life; market places as cold as the winter arctic currents with no human warmth to bring them back to life; the ghosts of gun and shrapnel victims are the only things that swim through the schools and universities that once rocked with the vibrant footsteps of knowledge seekers; and churches and mosques screaming for the mercy of God to save what is left of human life in the neighborhoods.

            Do the countries suffering from turbulences ever have time to enjoy a peaceful minute or even a second of Valentine? Or have they even forgotten that there is love in our world and it is celebrated in February. To them time has turned to a tool used to count the number of victims their battles harvest per day, the hours to measure how many will prevail quiet before the next bomber or tank shell announces death. While numerous hearts will get joined together during Valentines in total celebration of this much loved anniversary death will tear apart others in war-entine countries. While millions around the many peaceful nations of our world on the fourteenth of February will enjoy the warmth of liqueur and passion unlucky others will have a different tearful red celebration. "An ironic funny world that brings about the black and white simultaneously around us" I thought. In a few moments my fingers were moving on the keyboard of my computer typing. This story could be happening in any war-entine country to any couple in the ides of February…   

Carlos looked with awe at the pool of blood that surrounded his sweetheart's resting body on the grounds of his shop. Her body was shaking with the aftershock of pain, her once soft blue eyes now screaming with the terrorizing woes of agony. A small stream of blood was leaking from her red lips, her hair that once was shining with the marvelous glimmer of life and blondness was tainted with her precious blood. Streams of redness spilled through the many holes caused by the steel that brutally tore through her body. The freshness of her fair complexion was eroding away as her spirits weakened within her.

            Maria never felt these immense waves of agony shake herself before. Superb pain that shot from within the depths of her spirit made her cry and scream. Her body vibrated with every breath she took as she felt the shadows of death lurk close by. She knew she wasn't going to make it. She barely had the energy to move her arms. She took a glance at her beloved husband that she only knew for three months and wanted in those few moments left to look at him and capture his image in her mind to take with her to her destiny. Her husband's dark complexion was screaming with paleness from the horror of the situation. His abundant black hair was filthy with dust and rubble from the bomb that tore through his store. His bulky six foot body was kneeling besides her with the weakness and panic of a six year old child in a predicament. Rivers of tears were flooding from his terrified black eyes. She barely had the will power to speak as she pronounced his name, "Carlos…please…"

            Carlos picked up her body between his hands and stuttered as he spoke, "Maria…don't speak… I will get help…"

            Another wild explosion tore through the district and made the grounds underneath them shake. A wild wave of machine gun fire rattled the atmosphere about.

            Maria softly spoke, "Don't go out right now, you could die…"

            "And leave you to die, I wish I could pump my blood into your body and give you another life Maria, be brave and hold on till I come back please…"

            "Carlos…" her screaming was lost as fresh firing sounded again in the chaotic backgrounds. Carlos placed her back down and ran towards the entrance that was incredibly still intact. He braked and looked in all directions to see if paramedics were nearby. The entire city was quaking in a storm of frenzy. The streets were filled with people dashing wildly in all directions. Help cries ripped through the air about him as people hurt and trapped in the rubble of crumbled down buildings screamed for mercy. Wild random fire showered the air around him as the resistance and the army clashed in fatal guerilla warfare.
            Carlos chose a direction and ran down the small neighborhood street of his store, screaming for ambulance help, hoping to hear the much wanted sirens and red lamps that will be obviously flashing somewhere within the bustle of this hellish midnight. As he reached a main road two bulky and heavily armed guards drove their jeep right in front of him and blocked his path. Carlos stopped his dash and turned the other way but was too late. They descended quickly and one of them grabbed him by his arm. He turned around and pleaded in a screaming voice, "Please my wife is dying, she is hurt, I have to find an ambulance!"  
            "Shut up and turn around!!!" shouted the soldier with a mean tone of voice. The soldier turned Carlos around and threw him on the front hood of the jeep. He began searching him briskly for ammunition when Carlos decided to break through his iron grip and run away. He succeeded and ran a small distance before a round of fire ripped through the calf of his right leg. Carlos released a tormented cry and fell down on his knees. The pain was fierce and unbearable. He looked back to find the guards advancing towards him. He managed some power and stood back up. He limped his way away from the soldiers’ sight, wining like a child within the wakes of his agony, and entered into a nearby small street in an adjacent neighborhood. He made his way into an old abandoned building that had a perforated structure from the massive rocket launching in progress. The air was polluted with dust and smoke as he awkwardly moved in, bending down from time to time to remove debris with his hand, his right leg dragging behind him, groaning and panting from his plight. He stopped as he located a dark corner that was five meters away from the small building entrance besides the staircase and sat down. He took in deep drags of air and studied his bleeding leg. Aside from the lacerations his bone was hurt as well. It hurt him tremendously. The pain mounted to an incredible amount as his body savored the rest he was in. He started crying and helplessly beating the grounds around him. An image of his Maria suddenly focused in his mind. He knew she was dead by now. His eyes screamed with tears and frustration filled his body. He had to manage strength. There has to be a way. There had to be a glimpse of hope still. The image of her bleeding was so much for him to bear. He had to find strength and will somehow. His eyes caught the sight of a long white bandage that was lying nearby. He picked it up and a golden locket dangled from it. Carlos picked up the locket and opened it. A black and white picture of a couple was inside. “God only knows the outcome of this family.” He thought. "Were they dead, were they alive…no…” After a brief pause in time his mind screamed out, “This can't be his fate with his wife." He wrapped his wound with the bandage in an attempt to ease up the blood loss and stood up. His aching body limped towards the entrance. He took a peek outside and studied the territory around him. It suddenly struck him that everything went quiet. The warfare had quieted down. The only sounds that came from the distances were distress callings and noises of the masses as they rushed from the bomb shelters and secure hideouts to rescue what was left of life. Ambulance sirens began sounding in the distances. “Thank God they have come. I know I can convince somebody to come with me now." He maneuvered through the wreckage and mobs of rushing people, treading the path that led to a main street nearby. He arrived and was about to signal to a Red Cross ambulance nearby when his head swirled with dizziness. His vision began to blur and he fell down to his knees. The voices and commotion around him turned to faint sounds in a distant background. He was aware of two people that rushed towards him. A familiar voice seemed to be calling his name. He recognized the voice of his cousin John and screamed out "Maria, the Bakery..." but darkness and silence soon prevailed.
*****
John took one last look at the two faces that slept peacefully and calmly in their wooden beds. He just couldn't believe that they had perished so quickly from life; Carlos thirty and Maria twenty eight, their marriage only three months old. The real frustrating thing was what the autopsy announced in its reports about the life in Maria's womb that had died with her. It was the brutal end of an innocent family that wanted to establish itself within an ugly world that never knew any mercy. In a few moments he turned away and left the cemetery leaving the chance for the other relatives to say their good-byes. He didn't have the heart to see them lowered down to meet the earth that they were made from. How many Carlos's and Maria's would there have to be before mankind satisfies its dreadful appetite of hate and destruction? Just how many?
            Happy Valentine's Day Iraq; happy Valentine's Day Lebanon; happy Valentine's day Palestine; happy Valentine’s day Egypt; happy Valentine’s day to Iran and the US; happy Valentine's day to every weeping and bleeding war-entine in the past and present in our globe. May God rest all your deceased in peace and heal your wounds in this present Valentine's day. Put down your weapons and gather back the pieces of the shattered hearts inside each and every one of you. The only people that end up paying the taxes of wars are innocent civilians. Enough of war-entine and let’s celebrate true Valentine. Can I ask the UN to encourage a stop of arms at least on Valentine’s Day?

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