In the restless darkness of this final night, the dense salty air stung the faces of all who sat crammed on the tiny boat. The dancing water undulated with quiet indifference as it rocked their boat from side to side. All the groaning and rumbling was now muffled and there was relative quiet as taut muscles battled with the paddles to get them to shore.

All the children were in the middle and with them sat Aisha, heavy and expecting. She was breathing heavily as she struggled to catch a wink, but sleep was elusive tonight. All around her, she saw the faces of everyone, calm yet visibly tense even in the darkness.

It was the twelfth night they’d spent on the water, with its endless blue and its face that mocked the sky. The sands of the old shore were lost now and only the new shore awaited. Yet each new day had found them looking at blue waters on all sides, cowering under the sun. Aisha dreaded the fourteenth day. Her husband, hard at rowing, cast her knowing looks from time to time.

She was awakened from her brief sleep by a loud sound. She sat up suddenly and felt the baby kick uncomfortably in her belly. It was dawn now and she soon understood the reason for the noise — someone had spotted the light of the new shore. The new home where they would belong.

The chatter in the boat returned to the vigour it had on the day they left the old shore. When people had been happy to leave their old land with all its bloodshed. Now hope could be felt in the tremor of their voices. A little more paddling and soon they were at shore, kneeling, surrounded by soldiers pointing guns and shouting foreign words. As though summoned, her first contraction came. Aisha cried out. Her husband suddenly stood up from where he was kneeling to come to her. And they shot him. With such a loud blast that her water broke.

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Voice-Team
Voice-Team(@voice-team)
Admin
7 months ago

Powerful story, celebrating the courage of refugees as they make their way through perilous waters to reach a place where they will belong. An ending embodying life and death at the same instant. 

Fuji
Fuji(@fuji)
8 months ago

Daniel, this story is one of the best flash fiction stories I’ve ever read. You take one brief moment – the time from night to dawn – and sketch out an entire history of a group of people and one couple in particular, with skillfully chosen words. Each word packs a punch and builds to the climax. The reader is drawn in from the first sentence, and experiences an entire range of emotions until the final one. I don’t want to give anything away to those who read the comments before reading the story, but I salute you as a truly great writer. I can learn from you.

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Linda Rock
Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
8 months ago

What an extremely powerful story Daniel, really well written and with an ending that had me catch my breath. I hope to read more from you.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
8 months ago

A horrendous situation, more so because so many people find themselves going through it. A distressing read.

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
8 months ago

Oh my gosh, Daniel. Your story really defines the word superb. You make me experience so much from the beginning until the end. What a powerful read. I wish to read more stories from you to learn. Thanks a lot.

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
Reply to  Daniel Onchoka
8 months ago

You’re most welcome, Daniel.

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
8 months ago

A very powerful story, Daniel. Your writing makes it easy to feel the reality of the situation, from the monotonous, long trip on the crammed boat, until the dramatic and violent ending. The title of your story is also very well crafted.
I was wondering while reading if you had a specific refugee group and situation in mind, or if this was something you made up from similar, historical events around the world.

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Julie Harris
Julie Harris(@julie-harris)
Reply to  Daniel Onchoka
8 months ago

Daniel, thank you for having the courage and the talent to explore this tragedy in depth. We who live rather sheltered lives read about such tragedies, but don’t necessarily feel them – how can we, when news stories do not put us there at the scene? You are using your talent to bring all of us to a deeper awareness and level of caring and concern. Bless you.

Brian Murutu
Brian Murutu(@brian-murutu)
8 months ago

Extremely powerful story, really well written. I hope to read more from you. Keep up the good work.

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kepha osoro
kepha osoro(@kepha-osoro)
8 months ago

Very interesting and exciting.
Congratulations.
Keep it up.

Cynthia Wambui
Cynthia Wambui(@cynthia-wambui)
7 months ago

Painful ending, unfortunate and disastrous. Life can be cruel…. Thank you for the read, the new shore really gets one off-guard….
Good job as always.

Fuji
Fuji(@fuji)
7 months ago

Congratulations, Daniel on your double recognition: Third Place in Public Voting, and being selected as a Finalist in the staff pick. This story really does deserve it!

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
7 months ago

Congratulations, Daniel.  ? 

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