Sad Short Story
Hirio Mamoru kept his hand around his daughter's mitten, grey eyes cast upon the cold, barren earth. His feet moved slowly, thudding heavily against the ground. He had brown hair streaked with grey, and he was young, too young for that much grey.
His little girl had red hair and grey eyes. She looked too much like her now deceased mother. His grip tightened around her small fingers and she looked up at him. "Daddy?"
Mamoru turned his gaze to her and smiled. "It's alright, Enshi. Be brave, little one, alright?"
She smiled back and turned her head forwards again. "I'll be brave."
She was so young… they'd be celebrating her fourth birthday in two days, November fourteenth, at noon. He'd make her a birthday lunch, made out of the best ingredients he could find. Then, once they and the rest of the refugees arrived at the city, he would give her as much of the attention as she craved.
He'd not been able to. Not since the war had started and they'd had to flee their small farm in case of a bombing. That's where they lost Enshi's mother, Rika.
"Daddy…" The small voice came to his ears. "Why isn't Mommy here yet? Didn't you say she'd be here by now?"
He squeezed his eyes shut, desperately trying to stop the tears that so easily sprang up. "Enshi… she's got a small thing she's got to fix at home."
What did you expect him to say? That her mother was gone, and she was never going to be seen again?
Mamoru was far too gentle for that.
"I hope she's not getting a shot," Enshi whispered. "Shots are bad."
Two tears fell from the corner of his eyelids. How he envied his daughter, for being so small and innocent and clueless. He wished he could be her size; he wished he could be towed by a parent's hand. These fantasies were amazingly selfish and childish, but he hated this pain in his heart…
This war… has taken one of my most precious things in life… Rika…
He couldn't afford to envy Enshi. Enshi was the only thing that was keeping him going.
"Mamoru!" someone suddenly shouted.
He looked forward and saw a rockslide had occurred. No one seemed injured; this confused Mamoru, for he was the only doctor in the group. Why were they calling his attention?
Realization hit him as people began running forward, screaming and desperately bursting forward, trying to avoid the falling rocks. His hand was ripped from Enshi's and he fell to the ground. Someone grabbed him and pulled him along, despite his struggling and calls of, "Enshi! Enshi!"
Mamoru had always hated war. It was cold, hard, and cruel.
Just like the rocks that smashed the life from his little girl.
He didn't believe his eyes at first. He didn't believe that, just feet away from where he sat, Enshi was lost under the tumbling of rocks. The man holding his arm released him, and it took but a second for Mamoru to leap up and start digging.
The refugees watched silently as he dug and dug, ignoring his bleeding nails and the scratching of his fingers and palms. Then he came across something.
Enshi was laying under rocks a few feet away, her arm sticking out. He stared before screaming, "Enshi!"
Her hand moved, and that one movement sent everyone to work. They tried desperately to move the rocks surrounding her and got it done in record time.
Mamoru realized it was too late, but he didn't fully register it. He shifted his daughter in his arms and said, "My medical supplies. Now!"
Sad glances were exchanged and Enshi's grey eyes fluttered open. "D-Daddy…"
"I'm here, Enshi, I'm here. No one will ever hurt you again."
"Daddy… is it my birthday yet?" she whispered. Enshi was feeling no pain; the rocks had numbed her.
"Not yet, Sweet." He rummaged around in his supplies before someone spoke up.
"Mamoru… It… It's her time."
He pulled out a syringe and filled it with something.
"I know… I'm just…"
Choking back a sob, he raised Enshi's arm. "Daddy… no… no shots," she whined.
"It's just a little one. Be brave, little one."
She looked at him before relaxing. "I… I'll be brave, Daddy."
"You always were," he whispered as he injected the needle into her arm.
She looked at him. "Daddy… it's cold."
"I know, darling, I know. You'll be warm soon."
"Will I… be able to… have a new doll for my birthday?" she managed to gasp out.
"You're spending your birthday with mommy… she'll give you everything you want, I promise," he told her, not even bothering to hide his distress now.
"But… What about… you… Daddy…?"
"I have some things I need to take care of," he tried to say, but it came out as sobs.
"Don't… be sad… Daddy… Mommy's here," Enshi said, her gaze clouded over. "She wants… she wants me to fall asleep…"
"Go to sleep," Mamoru whispered. "You'll wake up in Mommy's arms."
She slumped against him and a woman began to weep, but it was nowhere near the sobs the doctor produced. His body shook and his heart burned and he felt pain that he'd never felt before.
He'd always hated war.
It was cold, hard, and cruel.
Just like the deaths his two most valued things in life had come to.
* * *
Days later, they arrived at the safe city. No one made a sound. They felt that their happiness would insult the man in his grief. So they were silently sent to their new homes.
As Mamoru headed to his, he kept his gaze low and didn't realize he was being followed until a meow was heard.
Eyes empty, he saw two cats, starving and cold, staring at him. The bigger meowed at him around the bundle in its mouth and the smaller shuddered and sneezed.
He couldn't stand the sight of them. Silently, he walked over and picked them up before heading to his new home.
There was hot, running water, so he bathed the filthy cats. The small one had shocking red fur and big, beautiful grey eyes. His hands shook as he lifted the other, only with brown eyes.
The cat didn't respond, but he fluffed its fur up anyway. The cat hissed and began smoothing its hair down again. "Rika… this is impossible… you hated having your hair messed up… and… Enshi?"
The kitten had fallen asleep in her towel.
He closed his eyes and two tears slid from his eyes.
Thank you, he thought to no one in particular. Thank you.
He envied the cats, honestly. The way they could groom themselves, the way one just blissfully fell asleep. He had yet to feed them.
To be honest, Mamoru had never been more grateful to envy something before.