The time when the leaves fall along with people is the hardest on me. No, no, not because of the same reason why people raise a hand on themselves…
Autumn is hard to survive because there is barely anything left for us. Everything we build during the year, everything gets taken away from us in the tenth month of the year.
Hiding is inefficient and the punishments are drastic. I have seen them throw small children into wells and taken into slavery.
Ever since the occupation many years ago, every year this is a ritual, a ritual that leads one step closer to ones’ grave. Only the strongest can survive, while the rest are treated like animals. Not everyone deserves to live on this planet anymore…
The worst thing is the wait, the wait for their arrival. We never know when they will show up, which always gives us a tiny glimmer of hope that we have been forgotten this time around. We never are.
Nobody has been forgotten so far.
My mother and father have already prepared two bags, one with money and a larger one with food that could feed us for the entire winter. Unfortunately, one of my sisters will leave us this year, or it might end up to be me. Now there are seven of us. There used to be thirteen. Let the lottery begin.
On the darkest of days, on the biggest of storms, the riders of the apocalypse come and they pillage. Today is a sunny day, so the probability of them coming is small so we can breathe, at least for today.
The uncertainty of it all is killing us slowly. There is more than one reason why we are slowly moving towards the afterlife.
At the dusk of dawn, my mother ran out to see what we can expect and came back with great news, barely dodging a vulture who tried to pick her up from the ground and make her her next meal.
Sometimes we are not that lucky, with anything.
During the night sometimes we can’t sleep because the uncertainty of it all is far too great. I feel like we are expecting a shooting, where every moment is our second to last. It’s very hard to live life like this.
Our house can’t even be called a house anymore. Only for walls and windows covered with blankets where only the sunlight can beam through a few holes. It’s no longer habitable, and yet there used to be thirteen people living in here.
The upstairs part is no better. That is where our beds are, or should I say the drawn boundaries on the floor where we are allowed to sleep. Every time I walk past an empty rectangle I shiver moves through my entire being like a ghost is trying to move through me. I know it’s no a ghost, I would have seen them had they been here.
The stench of decay is in the air. Whoever walks into this place, never finds a way out.
My mother is baking bread right now, in the dark. She is already used to it. She knows each and every step by heart until now.
The rest of us are waiting to eat something today. Total silence. I can’t remember when was the last time I heard a human voice. That became rarer than the light.
Being that it is cold outside, everyone grabbed whatever piece of clothing they could find to keep them warm. There is nothing to be done outside, every chore has been done months ago.
The lottery has been in the making for quite some time now. That is how we choose who survives. Every year there is food for one less person; it needs to be done. Someone always needs to make the ultimate sacrifice.
However disgusting that might sound, drawing numbers or sticks or paper from a hat, we never could reach an agreement who it should be. How do you even decide who is the next member of your family who is going to die? Can that even be done?
It seems to me that today is that day.
I can feel it.
I am trying to locate the rest of my family members. Everyone has gathered around our table, I am the only one who is missing. We are going to finish the day with full bellies at least.
The delicious smell of the pastry is spreading through our house. Whatever it is, we will be satisfied.
Mother cut each one of us a piece with the only knife we have. Cinnamon bread, my favorite!
In the moment when I take my piece closer to my mouth, trying to take that all delicious first bite, someone knocks on the door. We are not expecting any visitors. We never are.
Everyone immediately stands up. No one ever visits us, except to collect. But not today, it’s not supposed to happen today. Why today?
My father slowly approaches the door. They don’t wait for someone to open.
Carriers of death are in front of our doors.
– Right away, right away, there is no need for you to come in – my father bends in front of them as a sign of deep respect, even though I am sure he would cut their throats out. Half sprinting half jumping he reaches for those two heavy bags and carriers them by himself. He doesn’t want us to participate in this transaction – Here, this is everything we have, please take our contribution – he offers them the bags while kneeling on one knee so he doesn’t need to look at their faces. Everyone who has seen their face hasn’t lived for longer than a few seconds. A lot of people saw that face as the last thing they ever saw.
They take their bags and leave. That’s it, without drama and collateral damage. My father has already learned how to greet them and keep the banshees away. They have taken a life with them and they don’t even know it. I doubt they even care, I doubt they are capable of feeling human emotions.
– We need to do it today – my mother says. Nobody has moved an inch away from the table, the paralysis still has us in its paws.
My father returns to his seat.
– Yes, you are right. Bring the goblet. – he orders. My mother does as he wishes. I would love to see the look on her face while she sentences one of her family members to die. I would love to see the emotion twirl in their little beings.
No one speaks a word. Everyone’s eyes are glued to the goblet. Father sticks his arm and draws out a piece of parchment. While opening it, his face stiffens. His favorite is next – the only boy in the house.
That is all that he said, while his eyes deepen with sadness. What else could have he said?
I am next, and probably the last one to go. And that’s it….