The day seizes to a halt. The air becomes heavy. Three high pitched knocks echo across the now silent house. Tap, tap, tap… The muzzle of a rifle meets the door. Thud, thud, thud…Muddy boots step onto the cold concrete porch.
We cut through the cold heavy air and attach ourselves to the warm body of a familiar face. Our mother stands still as the knocks fill her ears. Her warmth comforts us as her face instills fear.
“Children run to the bedroom and hide in the closet. No matter what you hear you MUST remain in the closet. Mom will be ok. Everything will be ok. I promise.”
This last phrase is filled with doubt and fear. We crawl into the tight space. The heavy air presses down on my chest. I want to scream. I sit next to my sister shivering, holding back my tears. I hear muffled talking between my mother and the soldiers. I stop breathing in order to hear. My heart beats and time looses its meaning.
Slam! Thud, thud, thud…I hear footsteps. My heart pounds, looking to escape. My arms grip tight around my quivering legs and my face buries into my knees. Here at age five I quickly learn about the emotion fear.
The door opens and a familiar face appears. My mother. We leap into her arms. Faces bury into her shoulder as her sweater soaks up our tears. “Per aspera ad astra.”
I drag my feet down the stairs eighteen years later. As I splash water onto my face I look into the mirror. Twenty three years flash in front of my face.”Per aspera ad astra.”