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Three Days

by Shiny Lyni

Shiny Lyni Based on a true story about a family of five who receive news that will forever change their lives.
The news came suddenly.

Nobody was expecting it. Who could, really? Stuff like this only happened to people in the government, anyways, not to the family of a schoolteacher. The dinner table was uncharacteristically quiet as everyone tried to digest what they just heard, as opposed to the food in front of them. The father was obviously miserable for having to tell everyone, an aura of not sadness, but exhaustion emanating from him. His wife had her arms crossed over her chest like she was angry, but everyone knew she was just as perturbed, if not more so, as her husband. The eldest son solemnly sat in his chair with his hands clasped in his lap, looking down towards the table but not really seeing it. The middle child had a look of utter shock on his face, but he gently stroked his little sister’s head to comfort her… or to comfort himself. And the girl? The girl was confused, and clearly looked it as she tried to understand everyone’s expression around her, her own eyebrows furrowed together and her lips turned into a small frown. When it finally dawned on her what was going to happen, her face twisted in an almost gruesome way, and her brother who was petting her hair almost immediately pulled her in for an embrace.

The food was left mostly untouched, though the family did their best to eat. Besides, who knew when they could next have a meal like this?

The first day was already tough, and the eldest son wondered how he could survive the next two, let alone the ones after that. He had been told to not tell anyone, not his teachers nor even his best friend, about the incident. As such, he spent most of the day quietly at his desk, taking as many notes in class as he could to distract himself. When school was over and his friends asked him if he wanted to play ball with them, he shook his head and apologized, giving some excuse like he had things he needed to do at home. Well, it wasn’t exactly a lie. They would have to prepare well for what was to come.

The second day seemed harder, for the middle child found it hard to get out of bed after he finally managed to fall asleep the hour before. Class went by slowly as people tried to talk to him. He did his best to smile and laugh along with his peers, and nobody seemed to think anything was wrong. After a few more exchanges, he finally excused himself to go home early again as well. Again? Yes, the family was very busy. Hopefully, he said, everything will settle down in a few days. His friends seemed to accept that, and he went home.

The third day, though, was definitely the hardest. The girl forced herself to go to school, wanting to stay with her parents. One classmate asked why her eyes were red, and she tried to say something about the dirt getting in them. However, she couldn’t find her voice, and after a few seconds of trying to speak she finally shrugged before going to her seat. The teacher let her leave early, noting how she looked unwell for the past couple of days, and the girl merely nodded as she gathered up her books and walked home.

When she got there, she saw her parents sitting by the dinner table, the same place where they had received the terrible, terrible news. They looked up when the door closed, not bothering to ask why she was home so early. She knew they didn’t need to ask; they probably already knew.

The sun was already at a slight angle when the three of them set off, bags in hand. The walk was long and arduous; though they had all walked as much as this, if not more, the journey seemed much, much more strenuous. Partway they heard someone running up to them, and the girl turned around to see her oldest brother running up to them, carrying some of his own bags. They stopped for a bit to let him catch his breath before continuing on, the sun getting ever lower in the sky. By the time they made it to their destination, it seemed as if the heavens were bleeding the pain they felt for them, as it was dyed a horrible red color. The water mirrored back the sky’s crimson, and the girl wondered if even the fish could feel their grief.

With only a bit of daylight left, the four of them waited, not wanting to approach the water. Suddenly, a silhouette appeared in the distance, and the girl found herself calling out. She quickly closed her mouth, but not before her voice echoed back once, relaying her anguish to her before disappearing into the bleak sea behind them. The figure waved at them as it sprinted towards them, and in the dying sunlight, she saw the face of her second brother, full of relief for finding his family but also woe for why they were there. She almost ran forward but was held back by the strong arms of her mother, and so she watched as her older brother dashed away and hugged the younger one.

When she saw the embrace broke, the girl was aware of something cool streaming down her cheeks. Not wanting to touch it, she instead picked up her bags as someone said it was time to go. The five of them gave a quiet, nonverbal consensus before approaching the boat that had been waiting at the dock, and the man who had been waiting on the boat. They packed everything they could tightly together before getting on, and when the boatman released the anchor tying them to the dock, they watched as the land they called home slowly, gradually fade from view.

The land they called home, the people they called neighbors, the memories they called happiness.
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