Somewhere, there was a crossroads near the border, in a smoky child’s face with round eyes. Blue-yellow brick low houses and dark green pine trees surrounded it, and in summer, the purple statices opened in the garden; in spring, the hot sunlight stretched across the forest canopy. The first memory of round eyes was of this landscape, where years of warm embraces and happy barks were repeated over and over again. They called this place Life; it was as they imagined the world of fairy tales. Until now. 

Something shook the earth. It shuddered, deep and angry, as if the grey sky had fallen. Morning dew covered the blades of grass, and a thick mist descended on the cool ground; even the air was swirling backwards, and the birds were flying far away. They ran out of the brick house and stared at the Thursday shadows. The button eyes watched as all the spring, summer, autumn, and winter gathered in two grey canvas bags, as the faltering zipper was pulled on the resin-scented warm wool sweaters and the smiling stuffed elephants, as the Mother and Father prayed in whispers, as they locked the door of Life without a key. Then, lacking a vehicle, they walked away from the crossroads, the blue and yellow brick low houses, the dark green pines, the purple statices, and the memory of warm hugs and happy barks. The round child’s face filled with hot tears, with the helpless sorrow of incomprehension and lack. She didn’t know where the touch of silky grey dog-tails and the fresh scent of the short-cut lawn had gone; before her and behind her lies an endless sea of concrete surrounded by barren trees. All around her, words she had never heard, harder-sounding names of unfamiliar places are repeated with terrified powerlessness in their voices. 

Meanwhile, the time’s arrow marched on, the wind picked up, and the horizon bent to dark blue. The Mother took a brown bun from her canvas bag, caressed the child’s cold face, and held the tiny body close to her, cradling and humming the song she used to sing when the family was ill. The melody rang sweetly, filling the lonely night and drowning out the deafening noise of strangeness. 

Twilight and dawn meet; the dust was heavier on the feet, and the eyes looked wearily into the bare winter. Further lay Life than the round eyes and the darkening child’s face could possibly look back. 

They could only guess where they were going as they left fading footprints on the edge of towns, hoping to cross something larger soon. They dared only to believe that the sun would come out the next day, that there would be night, and that the clear sky stars would shine with the same piercing light.

Blanka Pillár is a sixteen-year-old writer from Budapest, Hungary. She has a never-ending love for creating and an ever-lasting passion for learning. She has won several national competitions and has been a columnist for her high school’s prestigious newspaper, Eötvös Diák.

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