We Did Not Fall In A Day
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They say the first Rome fell in a day… I only wish we shared its fate.

I was there when the country was divided, peace and government cracked down the middle like some long-closed scar being ripped back open. Generations of unity were shattered in a hailstorm of lead and blood. I just wish it had been some sudden event. But no, we had all seen the signs. We all turned our backs and continued in our lives of sloth and ignorance as we covered our ears and said, “It doesn’t affect me”. Slowly all the problems and actions of my people… our people – they grew and grew like water into a saucepan, almost as if we were waiting for a spark to light the flame and send it boiling over.

I was there the day He rose to power. None of us knew his intentions obviously but I think we all felt it coming. But we let ourselves get soothed and roused by his honeyed words. He promised us so many, many things that now all seem so insignificant. I just wish it had been some sudden event. But no, we all watched and helped as he rose, and we fell. In front of our eyes, he spewed words of honour, patriotism and revenge against those we had once called our brothers, and who I still do. A single small action from us. To think if we all had chosen to speak out, then I think it all could have been avoided. But we all just covered our mouths and thought “Someone else will do it”. Some of us did try, one even came to me for help, but I turned away. Their actions earnt them a new home six feet under. We let them fail.

I was there in the crowd when He issued the First Decree. I watched the cheering and the weeping, the cries of joy and despair as he uttered those accursed words. He spoke of unification, of uniting our new nation, but he did little to help and much to harm. As the jails grew and the graves deepened, I did not speak out, I did not protect those I once called friends – why bother, I knew my own history, so I closed my eyes and whispered, “They won’t come for me”. As he continued his work everything shifted, it was like the world was warping around his cause. My children, now spending their days at home, more than they had ever before – they thought it was great what he was doing… I am sure they felt different before the end. It was not soon after I would stop cleaning our Gardens mud off their face, but instead trying to scour that tell-tale yellow tint out of their skin. I failed.

I was there when we realised things were not going to work out fine. When the Second Decree was ordered and the expansion of our nation his empire rose to levels we used to only dream of. But like all my dreams since then, it was just another nightmare. As we grew so did the imminence of our demise. I remember the first day I went without food, I gave my boys what was mine. I should have spoken out but instead a plastered on a smile and said, “At least their safe”. As places and people, we once knew vanished before us nobody cried out. We all wanted to, but we all knew we were alone. The funny thing is that looking back, we really were!

I was there on the last day I saw my boys smiling in the sunlight. He said we needed to go faster, that it was likely our once-brethren were planning against us. Soot and ash rolled through the streets like one of my Grandfather’s finely rolled cigars, although those were probably healthier than what settled in our streets and skies. I sent them out as always but instead of their bright faces all I saw were two disks of grey staring back. As I sat in my room and wrote I thought to myself – I thought we needed a hero, someone to rise up to him. But as I looked down at my lame legs I wrote “It couldn’t be me”. But oh, had I known the power of words, the same power he used all those years ago now would I have spoken out? Probably not.

I was there as my beloved sons returned home in their new clothes. I had wept and wailed alongside them as we read the Third Decree, but we thought we were safe. I watched them vanish into the distance with fear on their faces, to fight a war no one wanted. This is what we had been working towards he said. It was what he had been working towards. I wish I could have gone with them, or stopped them… I just wish I had done something! But I just sat in my chair and sobbed “They will be okay… They have to”. As my already barren streets became ever more deserted, I could do nothing but watch from the window. I had squandered my chance to do anything… There was nothing I could do now we all thought.

I was not there the day they drew their final breaths. The courier arrived just after midday and I wept. We all wept for our children, friends and family. That day, as we all received that accursed news something changed. We changed. He tried to calm us, but he had already taken everything we cared for. We were all of a single mind and it thought “We will avenge you”. He tried to spew more of his honeyed words, but they had long since soured and brushed past us like a whisper in the breeze. We had been broken and it was glorious.

I was there on the day everything fell. I was there as all the sorrow, anguish, pain and misery came crashing down amongst fire and rubble. Flames of anger roared through the streets and the more he spoke the more the flames were stoked. It was no longer the time for words, thoughts or whispers. Now was the time for action. Blood ran down the streets, muddied by the fog and dust but we did not care. We saw it as justified. We were wrong.

I was not there as He was torn to bloody pieces by those who were once loyal. I had left at daybreak for once my mind had cleared, I saw what we were doing. We called it justice and maybe it was. But you cannot view the world in such extremes. I like to call what we did a necessary evil. But it was one I would take no further part in. As I walked into the sunrise, I had a note clutched in my hand. “I could not save my children I thought” as I headed to the border “But I can save someone else’s”.

Now little remains of that boundless wreck I once called home, left be by scavengers and settlers alike it has formed a macabre monument to what once was, and should never be again. Forever Abandoned.

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