Shat­tered City, Shat­tered Lives

Kayak (Canada) - - FICTION FEATURE - Writ­ten by Allyson Gul­liver Il­lus­trated by Michelle Simp­son

Hal­i­fax, N.S., Dec. 6, 1917

“Race you!” Clara MacDon­ald called back at her brother as she leapt down the steps of her fam­ily’s house on Creighton Street.

“You can’t beat me!” Dou­glas yelled in re­ply. “And be­sides, who wants to get to school early?”

But Clara had stopped. “What’s that cloud down in the har­bour? I think a ship’s on fire!”

Their race for­got­ten, the pair took off to­ward the water. No­body liked to see a ship sink or peo­ple get hurt, but a fire, well, that was ex­cit­ing. Maybe the fire­fight­ing boats would be out. If they sprayed a lot of water, there would be in­ter­est­ing ici­cles all over. Maybe Clara and Dou­glas could be late for school just this once. . .

They felt the shock al­most be­fore the noise. The ter­ri­ble, deafen­ing noise of an ex­plo­sion like . . . like noth­ing they’d ever imag­ined. Like the moon crash­ing into the sun. The force knocked them to the ground.

Clara’s head banged on a fence as she fell. Dou­glas tried to grab her but he, too, was slammed into the ground by the power of the blast.

“Clara! Are you okay? Where are you?” Dou­glas couldn’t see any­thing. What had hap­pened? He put his hands to his face — they came away wet and sticky with blood.

Just then, Clara started moan­ing. “Dou­glas?” Her voice was weak and quiv­ery.

“I’m here, Clara, but” — he tried not to sound pan­icky — “I can’t see you. I can’t see any­thing.”

“I’m just across the street.” Clara’s head hurt like she’d been smacked with a base­ball bat, and she could tell she was bleed­ing. The thought made her woozy. Her arms and legs were cut, her coat and socks in tat­ters.

“I can’t move yet. Come to­ward my voice. You’ll be all right.” But even as she looked at her brother, she knew some­thing was ter­ri­bly wrong.

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