By Autumn Owens

I’m sorry I never held your hand when we were huddled in the bomb shelter. I’m sorry that as the toxins filled the air and the ceiling shattered, I didn’t pull you close. We were never sisters, but war changes people. I’m sorry that when I heard you crying the night before the raid, I never comforted you. I’m sorry I never even knew your name.

But I knew your face–every inch of it. The deep creases where the dirt settled as our living quarters became less and less sanitary. The way your lips would pull tight and tremble when we had drills. Your eyes, sad and small in the darkness, sinking into the shadows as sirens filled the air. The fresh scar that across your cheekbone, shallow and winding. I saw how you tensed whenever you caught me looking at it. I’m sorry I told you it’d be okay. That I’d be there for you.

When the rubble fell around our shoulders, it didn’t hurt. All I cared about was getting breath in my lungs again. I coughed up the dust and blinked my eyes until I could see your arm next to me, wedged between pieces of debris. I pulled on your wrist and tried to help you up, but your face was unmoving and covered in blood. I was too late.

I was too late.

And the sirens were ringing.

And instead of holding your hand, I ran.

I’m sorry I never buried you.