We had been walking for months, but it felt like years. We had left the war zones behind us, with our shattered lives buried in shallow graves. We had crossed the Great No Man’s Land and seen the last of the ancient metal cities being swallowed by nature. Now, we were shuffling through closed door towns, begging to anyone who would listen. Far too often we were turned away with nothing and forced on; clinging to what fading hope we had left.
Just outside a village, we set up camp in a bare field. Exhausted, many people just lay on the ground, but a few built a small fire and put up broken tents. I settled down in my tent for the night, curling up under my half of the open sleeping bag. Dis had the other half. He was my younger brother and slept like a baby through the nights, no matter where we were.
Next to him, lay three other small children. We were not related to them, but now like the rest of the people we travelled with, were connected too. Their parents and families had died and /or abandoned them, just like ours had done. The adults here had decided not to leave them to that fate. Plus, children were good leverage.
Outside the hot sand rasped against the tent and some animals howled in the distance. I could taste the sand and feel it against my skin. I tongued the sores at my mouth and shut my eyes, dreaming of clean water erupting from a broken pipe back home. I can’t remember when that had happened. Had Dis been there? Maybe not, but my parents had. Children and adults had crowed the street and we had laughed and danced. The sun had shone through the water and it was like magic.
I felt myself drifting and I let sleep take me. Tomorrow, we’d walk on. Heading further across the burnt earth, looking for a new place to call home.