• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 03
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By the time the children emerged from their shelter the plane had already ceased to be a plane, a technological marvel transformed into debris the moment the rocket hit.

It was the first time that the girls could remember any of the many projectiles fired off their fathers’ shoulders actually finding a target.

The bravest of the girls rushed out as soon as they heard the explosion (a sound, it turned out, that was different from the ones they heard regularly, when it was the planes that inflicted damage), in time to see bits of flaming detritus still falling from the skies, a spectacle put on for them. A tree was on fire, its leaves shimmering like a hundred small mirages. Pieces of fabric and sheets of papers were still feathering down from the sky long after the first children reached the wreckage.

The pioneers motioned for the remaining children to come out, there was nothing to fear. They scurried out to the wide plains beneath the mountains and began dancing amidst the metal, holding hands and running in circles. Some picked up small pieces of debris to keep as souvenirs, others slalomed between the flames with their arms out pretending to be planes themselves. If the pilot had gone down with the aircraft, none of the girls saw him.

Soon the men would come down from the mountain -- their jubilant voices could already be heard approaching -- fathers would immediately shoo away the girls to take victorious photographs atop the wreckage, hunters before their slain prey. They would preen for the cameras, making faces that their daughters would never otherwise see. Behind the fathers the boys would rush, the rifles clumsy and far too big for their shoulders but carried with such seriousness that few girls ever dared tease them.



The boys wouldn’t allow them to even linger in the vicinity of the plane, asserting that this wasn’t for them, as they hustled to get in the frame of a photo, posing with their guns the way they’d seen other men pose with guns. Whoever had shot down the plane would be hailed as a hero, and there would be a feast in his honour, a feast that the girls and their mothers would prepare and would eat of once the men had eaten to their satisfaction.

The men approached, the first instruction for the girls to get out of there, that this was too dangerous for them, was shouted. Soon they would have to leave, so they danced some more.