Dao’s ears pricked, her heart stopped. Bells echoed across the valley inspiring fear. She could see the instant panic of villagers as they fled to the barracks. Dao watched her classmates stand up and queue up outside the building. She followed, staying to the back of the chaos. Everyone else was leaving for the shelter as Dao looked over her soldier. A lone child, many years younger, stood gazing toward the ascending terror. She shouted, running and grabbing the boy. ‘Run!’ Dao panted as he snapped back to reality.
And they ran, Dao feeling the familiar footpath beneath her feet. The boy slowed Dao down and bombs began to rain onto the beach. They were miles behind others and Dao panicked, feeling the small hand in hers.
Americans were nearing and there was no one else in sight. The jungle was close, though the leaves would not serve them much cover. Dao traced the single tear which had dripped down the boys face as she looked into his eyes. There was a sudden crescendo of the helicopters’ piercing whirlwind. They were in the open as the guns started up. It was not far to the the weak, leafy cover. They might have made it, but at the last moment, Dao threw the young boy in front of her, collapsing on top of him. She never knew his name but she heard him cry out as she began to lose conscious, evading into eternal darkness, surrendering to the pain of the bullets in her back.
He had survived, her last thought, letting Dao go in peace.
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