Nothing Is Stopping Me Anymore

Jázmin Juhász

It was the most devastating moment of my life hearing the bombs and realizing I don’t have a home anymore. Looking at the ruins of my neighborhood, breathing in the dust as the tears were streaming down my face, it felt like my life had ended. I lived with my parents, my older brother, and my younger sister. They were all at home that tragic evening; I was the only one who survived. 

The gap between the poor and the rich has been getting bigger with each year. While we are not sure if we are lucky enough to eat today, they live in enormous palaces and walk around in extravagant clothes that cost more than what we spend in a year. They could easily end our suffering, but they just don’t really want to. They have so much money that they run out of things to buy, but still, they want more. That’s why the war started decades ago: they needed more resources to maintain their glamorous life. The land was ours back in the “golden days,” so there’s nothing wrong with taking back what was ours, at least that’s what they say. But then it turned out that conquering these territories is not as easy as they expected it to be, so now our lives are centered around war. We are either soldiers fighting on the front lines or scientists inventing new weapons or working in factories. They live their lives as if nothing had changed, they don’t have real jobs, but they own everything in this country. No amount of hard work would be enough for someone like me to get to their level; you have to be born there, there’s no other way. All this injustice, but still we don’t rebel; everyone has accepted their faith. We work like robots with no hope or real purpose in life, not really understanding how bad our situation is. If it weren’t for getting lost that day, I would think just like everybody else.

I was only eight years old when I went shopping for groceries with my mom. The streets were particularly crowded that day, so I lost sight of her and started wandering by myself. I came across a large building, I went inside and realized I was in the library. I’ve been here a few times before with my brother when he needed to borrow some books. It looked exactly the same: tall shelves packed with thick books about war tactics and science, nothing too interesting. But I decided to look around anyway. As I was walking through the labyrinth of shelves, I noticed a door that was slightly open. I scanned the room to make sure nobody was watching, and I entered. It looked just like the other parts of the library except that these books were about fairy tales, adventures, love, and poetry, things I had never heard of. I sat down and opened a picture book, I was mesmerized by it. I didn’t know I could feel this much, that life could be more than just surviving. I don’t think anyone else had been here before, except the rich and privileged of course. From us regular people this world of emotions, complex thoughts, and art is hidden away. What we need to be focused on is working, and we shouldn’t waste our time on nonsense like entertainment. I was so invested in a story about princesses and magic that I didn’t even hear the footsteps of the guards approaching the room. When one of them found me, he immediately dragged me out, saying this is forbidden territory. My mother was waiting at the front door, relieved that I had been found. A few days later I returned, but the door was locked. Luckily for me, these guards aren’t famous for being attentive, as it’s just a library, nothing too dangerous here, so stealing the keys was a piece of cake. They really underestimated the power of words, since these books opened my eyes and fundamentally changed the way I think. I went back there very often. I was at the library the day of the bombing too. I read books about many different things, even war. In these stories the battles were glorious and good always defeated evil. In real life there’s nothing glorious about war; it’s cruel and brutal, and it consumes everyone and everything. The ones who are actually fighting are just pawns in the game. Losing your morality is inevitable, so the line between good and evil is blurred. There are no winners either; you either die on the battlefield or leave with mental scars that you can never recover from. And nobody is safe; hospitals, schools, and homes get destroyed with innocent families and children in them. They say there’s no victory without sacrifice, but hasn’t it been enough, is it really worth it?

After the bombing, I was moved into a large building with a bunch of other children who had suffered a similar fate. They gave me no time to mourn; today I have to go to school as if it were just a normal Thursday. But I have a plan, I’ve had it for a long time. I just didn’t have the courage to carry it out, because if I failed, I’d put my family in danger too. I have always been more aware than others, I hate this place with a burning passion, so I dreamed of escaping. I live very close to the Southern border; evidently that’s where I want to go. There’s not much there, only forests, meadows, lakes, and I also heard a few rumors about isolated little towns. It sounds perfect.

At school I’m studying to be a pilot just like my dad. He served in the army for many years before he crashed his plane and lost his right arm, from then he couldn’t work anymore. Today we are practicing shooting, so we cross the country’s border to train safely. It’s perfect timing for me to finally leave this place, and now I have nothing to lose. Training is the same as always, we shoot at the targets from the air, and after two hours we are commanded to land. Instead of landing, I switch to maximum speed trying to flee. I know it’s not the most well-thought-out plan, but even after years of weighing my options this still seems the best. From my radio I can hear my teacher ordering me to turn back immediately, but nothing is stopping me anymore, even death is better than this life. After a few minutes the radio becomes silent; it’s very unlikely that they let me go this easily, and I’m terrified of what’s coming next. Then suddenly I’m not the one controlling the plane: it’s turning back. There’s no chance I’m going back, so I have no choice but to jump. It’s mandatory to wear a parachute on our backs for safety reasons, but I’ve never thought that it would come in handy once. Falling from the sky is as terrifying as it sounds, and it feels like an eternity. Finally, my parachute opens, and I begin to float down slowly, I’ve never been more relieved. Unfortunately, they don’t give up, they start shooting at me and then I’m falling again, they hit the parachute. I can see my life flashing before my eyes, I guess this is how I die, falling till my bones crush. Suddenly I splash into cold water, I barely know what’s happening, but my survival instincts kick in and I start gasping for air. I try my best to swim to the shore, but every movement hurts, I don’t think I can swim for much longer. Just before I start sinking, my feet hit the ground and I walk out of the lake. I immediately lie down in the grass trying to catch my breath. It’s a miracle that I survived. After I rest a little, I can finally start my new life.