A Loss Of Innocence – by Threshold
9-year-old Amira is a typical child in many respects. To say she is just like every other 9-year-old would go a long way to explain why her grandfather had suggested she would be perfect for what they needed.
Her dark hair, almost black but willing to reveal the deepest of browns in the correct light, hangs long and straight, and had she the time it would have soon been possible for her to sit on it. Today, it frames her face, giving her what would have been described as an angelic countenance, but angelic is the least appropriate adjective considering her current situation.
Like many people from her region her eyes are dark. So dark as to give the fleeting impression of there being no iris, instead just large, friendly pupils. When the scrutiny is anything but fleeting it is inevitable that these eyes reveal their truth.
Her slight body appears somewhat lacking as she struggles with the backpack, but this is due to its size, not to the weight of the homemade explosives which are currently surrounded by an assortment of metal screws and bolts.
She had been walked to the bus stop by her grandfather, and had been told that she would be met by her father and older brothers once she arrived at the busy shopping centre. There would be lots of people there, and she was told to wait in the mall until she was met at 2 o’clock.
It is now 1:40 and Amira can not sit down because of the backpack, so she stands leaning against the bricks. The afternoon sun has now passed its apogee but the heat gives no indication that it is easing any time soon. Amira allows the backpack to slide off her bony shoulders. It lands with almost no sound and she slides down the wall until she ends up squatting on the ground. She spreads her legs and pulls the backpack to her, and with dirty nails she absentmindedly starts toying with the zipper that she sees is fixed with a plastic cable-tie. It doesn’t matter though; she had been peering through the grimy window of her grandfather’s shed as he had tucked the mobile phone and the wires in the backpack just moments before putting her onto the bus.
That was why she had waited until the bus had rounded the corner before ringing the bell and stepping back out into the oppressive afternoon heat. It was from there she had made her way back to her grandfather’s small house. Making sure to take the alleys behind the terraced houses rather than walking down the street. She now crouches behind the brick wall of the garden. She can hear her grandfather talking and tears begin to well in her beautiful, yet cold, dark eyes as she recognises the other voice too.
Standing, she rests her thumb on the gate latch and holds her breath as she pushes down. The rusted metal lifts without a sound, and she opens the smallest of gaps. Her father and grandfather are sitting with their backs to the narrow opening. She can see on the dark green, plastic table the mobile phone that she knows will soon be used, so she leaves the backpack in the garden and quietly closes the gate. Amira is anything but a typical 9-year-old.
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