The taste of blood conquers the tongue of a Syrian mother as she clutches her son’s corpse as the bombing continues. His soul has begun its rapid odyssey away from his body and into oblivion, as he is the latest victim of a coalition airstrike. He once skipped across these streets, grinning ear to ear. Sunny days and smiles are washed away with a wave of grey skies.
As she watches her precious son die, she becomes paralyzed and chained to the unstable ground, devoured by the burden of a thousand mothers who have lost their children in the name of Syria.
Beneath her shaking fingertips, she can feel her child’s once butter-soft skin turn leathery and rugged. His body has violet bruises and jagged cuts that stretch across his sickly arms that are long as the Nile River. She can feel the faint, final beats of her son’s heart as she desperately cries out in vain to God to save her child’s life. Her distressed cries lose their humanity as they begin to sound like the howls of dying animals, for her sentiments of grief are universal.
The roar of the airstrikes in Syria ring in her ears as if they are mocking her pain. Her son’s body is overrun with holes from previous bullet wounds, which begin to look like the bombed buildings and Damascus’s broken roads. The aftermath of the airstrikes has rendered it uninhabitable. As she collapses in the street, she can feel the bumps and curves of the once stable ground beneath her.
The smell of burning flesh consumes her as she ponders if her other children will become another casualty of Bashar al-Assad’s war. As if there could be anything casual about the loss of human life. A thick cloud of smoke pollutes her eyes as she contemplates the destruction of her beloved homeland before her. Bullets zip by her and ricochet off homes, although they are masked by the hundreds of Syrian children wailing for their lost parents. The people of Damascus rush to help the injured as they begin the desperate search for the bodies of their loved ones.
For they once walked alongside them, but they are now trapped in the ruins of the capital city, Damascus tumbles to its mangled knees, as the fatal airstrike has brutally gutted this once-prosperous town. Children’s laughter was once deafening and infectious, but they have been replaced with mothers howling for their slaughtered children and fathers weeping for their daughters who have been enslaved by ISIS. Damascus has become flooded with rubble and debris and is blinded through its tears as it cries for its fallen people.
Across kilometers of land and ocean exists a dark and dimly lit building. Inside resides a middle-aged, numb man watching sheer horror unfold upon his multiple screens. The room smells of sweat and days-old coffee, and the man tries to run his fingers through his matted hair as he realizes the gravity of what he’s done.
It seems like an ordinary task; he simply pressed a button. Instantaneously, airstrikes in Syria begin to pollute skies and condemn thousands to a lifetime of suffering. As he watches death through the comfort of his screen, he can hear his own heartbeat begin to race. The man’s mind becomes engulfed with a flurry of troubling thoughts, his eyes start to water, and tears travel down the pores of his skin until he can taste the saltiness of his tears. “What have I done?” This phrase is repeated endlessly in his head, which transforms into a mental prison.
He is overwhelmed by guilt and compassion for the strangers whose lives have been stolen and their loved ones annihilated by his act.