Sunshine and Rain by Brianna Joyce

Sunshine and Rain
Brianna Joyce

Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day. That’s what all the children say. At least, the other children. But not Maggie. Quiet Maggie welcomes the rain. Throughout her school life, she was known for sitting in the rain for hours. If she had the opportunity, she would stand or sit in the rain for hours, unmoving, motionless. The drops would soak through her clothes, but she wouldn’t shiver. She’s seen too much to be cold. It all happened in the midst of WW1. Her family was packing for the evacuation. Only they were too late.

***

“We should have left ages ago. They could be on their way right now.” Maggie’s mother huffed, as she tried to clear her jewelry box of anything valuable.

“We’re going to be fine, just hurry and grab the emergency money while I go start the car.” Said her father, quickly rushing outside.

Her mother had just finished packing their valuables and was now fishing for the money. As she did this, Maggie watched from the doorway, not truly comprehending why they were leaving. But she knew it wasn’t good because her mother wasn’t smiling. She gripped her red coat nervously.

“Mommy where are we going?” Maggie asked quietly from the door. Her mother stopped and knelt down in front of her. She took her daughter’s face in her cold slender hands and kissed her gently on the nose.

“We’re going to be leaving for a little while love.” She gave a reassuring smile.

“Will I ever see my room again?” asked the little girl somberly.

“If we can get this war over with. Now did you pack your thi-”

“Polgari! Sutrender!”

“What was that?” asked Maggie.

Her mother slipped out the door and a few seconds later, scooped the child into her arms. She was in tears as she just saw two Hungarian soldiers holding a gun to her husband. She ran towards the nearest window and quickly opened it up. She kissed her daughter and held her tight.

“Mommy what’s going on?” Maggie whimpered.

“I just want you to know that I love you very much and that you are my sunshine.” Her mother answered in tears, trying to keep her voice steady.

“Is daddy okay?”

“Everything is going to be fine. I just want you to listen to me very carefully. Whatever you do, don’t stop running. Even when you think you’re tired, don’t stop until you reach Hawlington, that town we normally walkthrough. Remember?”

Maggie stayed quiet.

“Tell me you remember.” Her mother pressed her head to hers.

“I remember mommy.” Maggie answered.

Even with the shouting, it felt quiet.  The sky was clear and the sun shined through the dimly lit room. Without realizing it, her mother began to hum You are My Sunshine.” Maggie felt a little better until the soldiers kicked down the door, startling them both. Her mother kissed her goodbye one more time and started hoisting her out the window.

“Whatever you do, don’t look back now run!” her mother ordered, and Maggie did. Maggie ran as fast as she could, and when she heard the gun shots behind her, she knew her family was dead.

But she didn’t stop. She kept going. She ran towards the town only to find it abandoned by life and infested with war. The shockwave from the explosions made her stumble. She fell on the cobblestone path in front of the old candy shop her father would take her to after school. Behind her, a tank rumbled close by.

Maggie tried to move, but fear kept her down. She turned her head to see it stop in front of her just a few feet away. The barrel was pointed straight towards her. She held her breath and shut her eyes tight. She let the tears fall as she watched what little of her life flash before her eyes. five years was not that long, not that much. She thought she could hear her mother’s voice singing.

You are my sunshine.’

A fire roared in the distance from a bomb drop.

My only sunshine.’

The sound of shouting was mixed with anger and fear.

You make me happy.’

Smoke clouded the skies, suffocating the sunlight.

When skies are gray.’

She could hear them loading the shell.

‘You’ll never know dear.’

Behind her another shell landed, deafening her ears.

‘How much I love you.’

She prayed to God one more time.

‘Please don’t take.’

The gases and fumes burned her eyes and nose as she started to fade.

‘My sunshine.’

Goodbye she told herself.

‘Away.’

 

A pair of wings enveloped her waist and soon she was pulled from danger. She opened her eyes to see a pair of blue ones staring down at her. She couldn’t hear what he was saying, but it wouldn’t matter as he was strapping a gas mask to her face. She took small deep breaths and was coming back to consciousness. Through the foggy lens, she could see his own fear. Terror more likely.

“Everything will be alright love. Just hold on tight.” He spoke quickly. “Can you nod your head yes?” he propped her head in his hand, trying to keep her awake. She slowly nodded, and he smiled. “Very good.”

***

Bianco, looked around, held her tight and ran from cover to cover. Separated from his squad, he was trying to regroup when he finds a little girl on her knees in front of a tank. “Nothing is ever easy.” He muttered in frustration.

There were two enemies to his left, so he quickly turned right into a small alley way and slipped behind some wooden boxes catch his breath. The little girl raised her head as the youthful man was praying to God for some form of safety. He looked down at her and saw big brown eyes through the mud stained glass. His name patch was covered in blood.

“It’s okay, everything is going to be okay.” He said, gently bouncing her on his hip.  She nodded then screamed as an enemy charged toward them with a bayonet.

The soldier pulled a pistol out and shot a round through the enemies skull before the blade reached them both.

He hit the ground and Bianco shook. He pulled the little girl tighter to him. “We have to move.” He breathed. She couldn’t hear as her ears were still ringing. Bianco put a hand over the back of her head, hoping a sniper’s bullet wouldn’t fight its way to her precious head, and started running again.

They ran past everything. Char, debris, bodies, good and evil depending on which side you were on. Maggie kept her head buried in his shoulder as he sped along. A shot rang out, narrowly missing the back of Bianco’s head.

“Shit!” he vexed. He took cover in a broken down home, and surveyed the area. He took off her mask letting her breathe easier. He then found a closet with piles of clothes and sat her down. He took out one of his pistols and gave it to her.

“Listen very carefully.” He stressed, lightly cocking it. “Pull the trigger, if anyone is not me. If you hear shouting, or they don’t speak English, pull the trigger. And that’s only if they try to open the door. Do you understand?” asked Bianco. He looked over his shoulder to make sure no one heard. The little girl nodded, wrapping her small hands around the weapon. “Alright, good.” He smiled. He watched the tears fall from her eyes and wiped them away with his thumb.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“Maggie.” She whispered.

“Well Maggie, My name is Bianco, and I promise I will keep you safe. And if I don’t,” his nerves shook as he heard footsteps nearby, “Please forgive me.” He gave a reassuring smile. He kissed her forehead before he shut the closet door and climbed up the decrepit stairs. He reached a room with four windows and kept his body low to the ground. His plan was to find the easiest route out of town. If they could make it to the woods where his team had dispatched, they would both be in good hands. He peeked through each window, finding that two rights and a left would put them on the path to safety.

***

Maggie held her breath with each creaking sound. She tried to hold back tears as she kept the gun aimed at the door. It was heavy but she refused to let it fall. After a few moments of silence she jumped as a pair of boots marched in. she peeked through a small hole in the closet door and with bright brown eyes, spotted a Hungarian soldier. Maggie froze as he stepped closer to the door.

***

Bianco carefully went back down only to quietly fall back into cover. He peeked over out to see the Hungarian officer reaching for the closet door, his gun ready. If he fired his own gun, it could alert other soldiers. If Maggie shot the same could happen, but that could buy them time.

The officer opened the door and Bianco’s heart leapt only to settle when nothing happened. A shot somewhere off in the distance was heard and like a distracted dog, the officer left to investigate. When all was clear, Bianco rushed down to the closet. He opened the door and it was empty except for the pile of clothes tucked in the corner.

“Maggie.” He whispered, checking behind him. It was quiet until he saw a piece of brown curl sticking out under the clothes. He called her name again and she poked her head out of the clothes. She climbed out and ran into his arms.

Bianco picked up his companion and held her tight. “Oh thank God.” He breathed kissing her head.

“I’m sorry,” she began to cry. “I couldn’t shoot the man.” She nuzzled her face into his shoulder.

“Shh, it’s okay.” He said softly. “You did the right thing now let’s get out of here.” He said.

They followed the path with caution. Bianco could hear shouting in the distance and picked up the pace. The clouds and smog hung heavy in the sky, with no light to break through the dark. They were almost to friendly territory when Maggie saw an enemy behind them in the distance.

She shouted as he took aim. Bianco looked back but it was too late. A blast was made and a bullet lodged itself right in the back of the soldier’s leg making him and Maggie both of them drop to the ground.

Maggie’s heart pounded as Bianco took out the pistol, but the blood from the wound was making him lose consciousness.  Maggie crawled over and shook him, but he was becoming more and more unresponsive. The enemy drew closer and she didn’t know what else to do.

She took Bianco’s pistol and just like he showed her, cocked the hammer back. When the enemy reached them she shut her eyes as she aimed the gun and squeezed the trigger as hard as she could. The recoil was heavy in her hands pushing her back, and blood sprayed them both. The enemy fell back, a bullet lodged between his eyes.

She threw the gun to the side, her body was shaking. She turned back to Bianco, shaking her friend praying he’d wake up. The soldier fought to keep his eyes open. He took her hand and smiled. “It’s okay sunshine. We’ll… we’ll be okay.”

In the distance towards the woods, four men wearing the same colors as Bianco, ran towards them. Maggie, who still held Bianco’s hand, felt a spotlight of sunshine pour over her. It began to rain, even though the world grew brighter.

The drops were heavy and warm and then, it happened. Everything began to wash away. The dirt, the soot, the blood, it all washed away from the soldier and the little girl. As if God was washing their sins and woes away. Maggie couldn’t help but stare at the sky in wonder, and smile.

***

Bianco lost his leg a few days later. Maggie had no other family. So when Bianco went home, Maggie went with him. They were both welcomed home by his lovely wife. She was a woman with a mother’s heart, but could never have children of her own. So when little Maggie came along, she was nothing but overjoyed.

She grew up in a loving home. Granted, she and Bianco would still be haunted by the memories of that day. But whenever it rained, she would quietly sit outside and hum You are My Sunshine. Sometimes Bianco would sit with her and sing with her. Or they sat in silence as the sun came over the clouds making the raindrops shine.

Because if it was one thing she loved, it was sunshine and rain.

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