He was hiding, the coward. He was hiding in the well instead of going out to fight. But what could a ten year old do?

He would be found, he knew that. They would be thorough, making sure that each and every male was dead.

All that wasted time. All those stupid games played with friends. All those stupid English lessons whilst all the other boys had been outside playing games. He could have been out there, travelling the world, but instead he was indoors, in tightly controlled classrooms, learning the difference between “a” and “an”, and how to write “thought” and “through”.

Now that the Hutus were here, none of that seemed relevant. He was about to die, and that would be that.

Two hours later, he pulled himself up the rope. Clinging with his knees, toes and hands, he pulled himself up to the ground. The Hutus had gone. They had left a scene of brutal inhumanity.

Across the terracotta earth, brown, strong bodies had been left in the position they had died in. The boy approached a pair of legs – the left leg down, the right leg frozen where it had been pushed up, the patterned lilac skirt stained. The boy stumbled around the open land, his wide eyes taking in dead body after dead body, staring over his shoulder at each before he encountered the next. The raw pain in his hands numbing his heart until he went into one house – Jean-Pierre’s house.

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There was no smell. It was too soon. No flies either. It was not like in the films. The men were simply dead. Their bodies lay where each had been cut down with samurai swords. The fallen had just fallen, their blood now tacky and brown on the terracotta floor tiles. All the books, albums and wall hangings were still in place. There had been no pillaging, nor a James Bondesque villain flicking through a copy of Taming The Shrew. The murderers had done their job and left. This was not like the films. This was not like the films.

Maman and Papa!

Where are they?

This is part of a true story. I met Faithful when he was 18. 


About catherinehume

Catherine Hume: Writer, social care worker and a liver of a life less ordinary.
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