• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 01
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When they broke our phones, we tried to mend them. That’s us on the beach under the wall, telling ourselves we’ll make a working phone from the bits, telling ourselves not to think about the terror of the end of all communication.

It didn’t work.

When we got back to camp, I curled up in my stinking, shredded sleeping bag. When I heard the children, I knew I was dreaming.

Despite broken limbs and dysentery, despite hunger and not knowing where most of their parents or siblings are, the children are making each other laugh. They play hopscotch and skimstones in the dust. They tell each other stories. They talk about a lighthouse that signals a welcome. Talk about blue skies and safe ships and harbours. Talk about a bridge that leads to villages with houses that have rooves and windows and running water. Talk about people who give them food and kindness and clothes.

Their laughter rises and I dare to look out. I am not dreaming. The children are sitting in a circle with their eyes closed, talking. When I settle in the space they make for me, their talk turns serious. They’re preparing for their arrival in the world beyond the wall where people live in higgledy-piggledy colourful towns and houses get built, not bombed.

A small, dark-haired girl tells me they’ve already had replies to their eees. When I say I don’t know what she means, she pulls out a cracked cobbled-together phone from her filthy sleeve and says, "Emails. Eees. From the people on the other side. They’re real," she says. "Not stories. And they're coming."