Dawn glimmers over the edge of city of Caracas and shines into my eyes. I squint into it, then look away as it grows too bright. A light rain is falling and I’m sopping wet. I run my fingers through my black hair and shake may head, sending drops spinning in every direction. I sit up and shiver in the slight wind. Bianca is sleeping beside me, under the skimpy protection of a stone archway. I pull the blanket up around her shoulders. The streets were empty and quiet. Too quiet. I stand and walk the length of the block, looking for the cause of the silence. My heart beats faster and I run back to where Bianca is. It begins to rain harder and she stirs. “Tiago?” She calls.
“I’m here.” I answer.
She rubs her eyes and opens them. Beautiful black eyes framed with long lashes – beautiful, but sightless. She lifts her head and listens. “Rain.” She sniffs and smiles, “It’s so pretty, Tiago, so clean smelling.” Poor child, she doesn’t really know what pretty is. “Rain is God’s way of washing away all the bad in the city.”
“Yeah.” I mumble, glancing up the street again.
Bianca pushes her hair away from her face, then stops and cocks her head to listen. I think she’s hearing the rain, but now her face grows puzzled. “There’s shouting.”
I look out, but see nothing. Listen, but hear nothing above the drumming rain. Suddenly a jeep roars onto the street and squeals to a stop. Soldiers pile out, unslinging their guns as they hit the ground. From up the street, rapid gunfire rips the quiet to shreds. The communist revolution has come to Caracas. I look down in concern as Bianca jerks sharply, but it is only in surprise at the sudden blast of noise. “What’s that?”
“Fighting.” I answer, trying to move farther back n the archway. “The communists have reached the city.” With all her seven years, Bianca knows nothing of the danger behind the explosions. The sound means no more than hammering to her.
She lifts her head and sniffs the air. “It’s bitter.” It takes me a moment to realize that she is speaking of the smell of the gunpowder.
As I grow more nervous, she slowly relaxes. Suddenly a bullet tears through my shoulder and I barely manage to keep from screaming. I clench my fists and grit my teeth, I gasp with the pain. Don’t scare her. Don’t scare her. Blood quickly soaks into my shirt and runs down my arm. Bianca looks up at the sound of my labored breathing. “Tiago? Are you ok?”
“I’ll be ok.”
She nods, oblivious to my pain, and reaches out to feel the rain running off roof. The battle rages around us, but she sees none of it, it’s nothing but noise and strange smells. Shouting? She hears it all the time on the street. Her hand follows the line of drips from the roof a slight smile lighting her face. Her hand comes under my elbow and my blood flows onto her hand. She starts and pulls back in surprise at the sudden warmth. She puts her stained hand to her face and sniffs it curiously. “Blood?” She guesses.
“I’m – shot.” My voice holds pain and Bianca picks the tone out immediately.
“You hurt your arm on something?” She asks. “Don’t worry. Just hold it under the rain. The rain will wash it all clean.”
Ah, child, if only rain could scrub out the stain of battle. The battle continues around us, but Bianca smiles and puts her hand back under the rain drops, feeling the splashing water with delight.
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