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August 18, 2016 / hbrowne4

The Spent Shell by Margaret Moran


She had found the shell but now didn’t remember what drove her to pick it up.  It was dirty with soot and burn.

The noise of the war was ceaseless.  Many differing noises, loud and unrelenting.

The hum of aircraft engines; the whine of dropping bombs; the detonation;the exhale of explosion; the whishing of a rising, rushing dust; the creaking of concrete crumbling.

It was a daily dread and even when she managed to sleep, an unnerving nightmare.

Smell was another element of war she had come to hate. Her own unwashed body.  The stale scent emitted from the other remaining members of her family. The malodor of those in the bomb shelter –  whenever her family managed to get access. The stink from burst sewer pipes; the metallic taint of explosives that gagged her breath with sulphurous substance; the drifting dust; the barbeque of human bodies; the burst of flames in buildings once of use.

Thirst was another torture. When fresh water could not be found, her mother strained dirty water through several layers of material in the hope of a decent drink. That was only if a lull allowed her safety to fill a jug wherever water lay tainted by the war’s destruction.

The hunger pains had passed.  In the beginning there was gratitude for any meal her mother managed to put together, then sulkiness when meal deadlines passed without anything substantial to eat, a ravenousness for remembered foods she now knew were impossible to obtain. Then joy for the meager contents of emergency packs that occasionally got through the war zone. As supplies dwindled it seemed like hunger might be the hardest to bear but now there was a quiet, physical acceptance of the lack.

Rumours of an end to the war really upset her.  There had been so many. Promises whispered on the wind brought hope and wary smiles to the weary.  That hope was short lived and despondingly dashed by yet another bombing raid.  When will it ever end?


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