It was soon to be sunrise on a cool winters morning in nineteen-fifty-six

It was soon to be sunrise on a cool winters morning in nineteen-fifty-six, the lamppost below the rustic brick structure flickered gently, only emitting a low, cold yellow light intermittently. A woman, no older than thirty, stood atop the Portman Street building of red brick, or of brick that would have been red if the rain and haze had permitted it; but as matters stood, it was a building of unforgiving, unsympathetic black.
Unrelenting, dingy rain stung Anastasia’s exposed face, a ceaseless sheet of frost against her as she stood upon the ledge, peering down into the overwhelming gloom nearly forty feet below. The great architecture of the buildings made shapes out of all too pliant shadows. They loomed over the street below in a dark and obscuring manner, blocking the moon’s minute luminescence from reaching the pavement. The radiance of the lamppost dulled further as it struggled to emit a spark.
The woman’s hands were held out to her sides, splayed as if she were an offering, a sacrifice to a dream of something better; something more. Her feet covered by obsidian Galoshes scuffled against the uneven, rough red brick below her, and she swayed precariously closer to the edge, the serene smile painted on her face reluctant to fade.

When the upper limb of the beaming bright sun appears above the far horizon, the true brilliance of life becomes apparent. Maman, Papa, Ambrus and I sat on our terrace, faded iron chairs embraced us as we relaxed in the tenderness of the coming day. A soft warm glow immersed my family in light, my father, who sat to my right, grew younger bathed in the rays of gold lustre. Papa’s eyes crinkled with mirth, his deep rich baritone laughter a soothing comfort. He grasped within his hands a mug of boiled Arabica coffee, its bitter scent gently wafting through the air, the familiar sensation characteristic of my home.
Eliina sat to my left clutching a heavy tome in her elegant hands, caramel skin luminous under the early morning sunlight, her dark chocolate eyes reflected the golden radiance of the sun. A gentle smile lay upon Ma’s kind face as she gazed fondly down at my brother who clutched her flaxen skirts close to his face obscuring his cheeky smile in her warmth. In Ambrus’s chubby hands he clutched maman’s vibrant red beaded necklace, Hestia’s pure smile glinting silver at me when the light caught the metallic pendant.
And together, as family, we ate breakfast. I indulged myself, for it seemed as if I had the world and all its time. I felt immortal, lost to the warm orange glow of a spectacular sunrise.
On this terrace, my family’s designated little alcove, we rested, in this moment of tranquillity, untouched by the harsh austerity of the raging civil war. We were cocooned in each other’s tenderness, nestled under heavy layers of pure, unadulterated love. The hail storm of fire did not rain down upon us. The clouds of dust from bones and sand did not sweep into the unspoiled air we breathed. Our haven, in this instant, was unmoved.

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It was a colourless dreary Monday, large plumes of smoke coloured clouds overshadowed the town. In the tiny shop I was working in, the cool seeped under doors and rain swept inwards from the open door. I gently stacked the egg cartons atop one another on the store shelf, the skin on my arms prickling due to the cold. People rush by, pushing through the miserable sleet to achieve the same goals and ends as every other day of their monotonous, autonomic lives, the dreary grey of wool coats and cotton pants varying none between each hurried passer-by.
“Oi, wog. Come here.”
A familiar beckon; another callous man bittered by the cold and rush is demanding attention, as if I have nothing better to do than give it. Despite the abrasive countenance of this man, it is not in my nature not to do my job properly, so I answer to his summons.
“How can I helps you?”
Our conversation follows like any other with a man of such an unkind demeanour. His face seems frozen with a permanent sneering curl to his lip and an apathetic chill in his eyes; his words are similarly frosted with condescension and disdain. In him I see the callous ice that broke my family, and I suddenly feel a lack of sympathy for this man’s most probable unfortunate upbringing.
The people here are dull and impersonal, uncaring of anything but that which will better them tomorrow, uncaring and apathetic of anyone but those who look and speak like them.
To each their own, as it goes.
Although I have had plenty of time to acclimatise to the culture here, each slur hurts as much as the last. But I would not retaliate. I would not fight back. There was a time for peace and a time for war; a time for mercy and for judgement; a time for living and dying.
The war was supposed to have passed, but it seems to have followed me here. The grating noise of grief in Greece merely replaced with my own sounds of anguish in Melbourne. This was neither the time for mercy, but neither was judgement a realistic option.
Each day is like the last: alone, cold, left wanting.

It was a Thursday, and maman was cooking her famous garbanzo bean soup, the strong smell permeating the air surrounding and within the kitchen. I sat in my bedroom with Ambrus on my lap, he counted along to a soft tune, smiling up at me in reassurance that he was correct. If I concentrated on the smell and sounds of our kitchen, I could also hear the faint angelic lilt of Ma’s voice. Her melodic humming so strongly reminded me of this routine, of home.
My Pa, no doubt stood admiring the way Ma worked, unwilling to leave her side after a long day of labour at work, enamoured with Eliina. Every evening, Claes would watch over maman in the kitchen as she served food, more often than not, a legume dish, onto clanking ceramic plates.

Ambrus gently tugged at my dress sleeve, pulling me out of my reverie, I smiled down at his peaceful expression, and hugged him closer to my chest.
“I am sorry, please contineeue my love, I am payeeing attenchion.” I nodded at him to encourage him to count again, but before such things could occur, a loud crashing sound arose from our front door. I held Ambrus’s hand as we peeked around our bedroom door, my heart in my mouth.
Fear flooded me instantly, and I gripped Ambraki mou’s hand that much tighter. For a tense moment, everything lied still. Then suddenly there was a cacophony of noise, I barely held consciousness, only just able to grasp my six-year-old brother before he ran out to my parents.
Maman’s body lay on the floor, thick dark blood oozing from her scalp, matting in her thickly braided hair. Papa was straining towards her, held back by Andártes sent by the Dekemvrianá pulling his arms back behind him, unable to do anything but stare in grief stricken distress. I gripped Ambrus by his shoulders, clapping a hand to his mouth while trying to swallow my own horror as both our minds yearned to call out to maman, to hear her respond in turn. I knew, in that moment, she would not. Staring with glassy eyes at Maman’s body sprawled on the stone cold floor of my childhood home, tears slowly dripped down my cheek, wetting a path of eternity.
“Is there aneeone else?” a dark figure stepped over the sickly form of maman and closer to papa. He spoke in a serpentine hiss, his hands curling in my father’s hair, yanking his head back to face him with stony indifference.
“No.” Papa shook violently, muscles fighting, resisting aimlessly, eyes flicking from the lifeless form of Maman and back to the imposing man manhandling him, tears gleaming in hardened, haunted eyes.
“I vill repeat for you. Is there aneeone else?” The biting sound of flesh on flesh rings true as papa’s head swings to the side. A raised red handprint marring his face. with the force of the slap. A red raised
“No, we live alone, please.” Papa’s voice was breathless, his chest heaving with pants. I turned Ambrus away, and smoothed the tears from his face. I motioned him to retrieve his small bag and pack small necessities. I looked, once again over the heart wrenching sight of my broken family. Papa’s eyes caught my own. A minute nod of my head answered his unspoken question, are you prepared?
The soldiers pushed my father down to the ground next to maman, and he gripped her lifeless body in his hands and threw his head back to the sky a low keening noise falling from his lips. He gently held ma’s head, tilting her so he could look into her glassy eyes. Claes’s forehead fell against Eliina’s, his tears dribbled down onto her face as he cradled her in his arms as he would have any other night.
“It is shame she died ven ve hit her. She is’a very beauteeful.”
My Papa did not even hear the sick taunt, his senses overwhelmed with the very definition of anguish and grief. He lifted his eyes to my own, the message was clear. Go. Do not turn back. I turned and fled, I grabbed Ambrus who clutched desperately at Hestia’s face. We ran to the back door, quietly opening it and slipping away into the growing darkness and cold, the smell of burnt garbanzo bean soup trailing behind us. Full body heaves racked my body, Ambrus too, was ailed by heart wrenching sobs.

Before we could fully disappear into the night, we heard the unmistakable sound of our father, as he howled for ma’s broken soul to return, then, the unfamiliar, harsh bang of a gun.

The woman’s hands were held out to her sides, splayed as if she were an offering, a sacrifice to a dream of something better; something more. Her feet covered by obsidian Galoshes scuffled against the uneven, rough red brick below her, and she swayed precariously closer to the edge, the serene smile painted on her face reluctant to fade.
The pre-dawn light was cold as Ana steadied herself. In these moments Ana thought of a central light dimming and going out. She thinks of ice spreading through her chest and paralysing her limbs. She remembered all the times she fell asleep to the prayer please don let me wake up’ta no one.
As the sun rose and brought an end to the cool night, Ana cocked her head and listened to every zephyr which passed, hoping for the echo of her brother’s light laugh.


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