I heard the screams of my family before I felt the burning, aggravating sensation in my chest. People surrounding me started running and yelling in every direction, desperate to vacate the area and not be the next victim. The person who did this has likely mixed in with the crowd. It happened so fast. I didn’t even get a clear view of the person that decided here and now should be my demise.

My mind went into shock as all previous thoughts and worries faded. I looked down at the scared and impressionable faces of my young children. Not yet taller than my waist, their heads were tilted up at me and their mouths were moving furiously. I could hear the panic in their voices but could not make out what they were saying. It was like there was an invisible shield between us, distorting their words. I can’t distinguish if they were calling out for help or shouting in horror. 

“It’s okay,” I choked, wanting to console them. “Run…” I couldn’t finish as my knees buckled and I crumbled to the ground. A groan escaped my lips as I landed heavily on my back, with nothing to cushion the impact.

I pressed my hands on the open wound of my chest in an attempt to stop my blood from gushing out. Pairs of warmer and smaller hands cover mine. However, it was helpless as the sticky liquid continued to coat my skin and dress shirt. 

With heavy eyelids, I peek up at the dark blue sky. Birds are still flying above and the clouds are drifting with the wind. An unpleasant whiff of burnt wood and smoke plunges my nostrils. My breathing grows shorter as though something is pressing down heavily on my neck, closing my windpipe.

Someone gently yet urgently pats my cheeks and moves my sluggish head from side to side, whilst another rubs my shoulders in an attempt to calm my trembling body.

Using my remaining strength, I strained the muscles in my neck to gaze at the loves of my life one last time. My eldest daughter of nine years is nowhere in sight. Has she gone to find help? She should be here with her siblings. I opened my mouth, but nothing came out except gargles of blood. ‘Go. Please don’t remember me like this.’ I watched as their tears rolled down their round, blotchy cheeks. 

Starting from my feet, I felt my body grow cold and lose all sensitivity. A dullness clouds my vision, making all shapes and colours shift out of focus, and darkness begins to close in. My eyes rolled to the back, and my head’s crown fell backwards, hitting the floor. As I took my final breath, the noises – screams, footsteps, and weeping – around me faded one after the other until all was left was a deafening silence. 

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