‘Barriers Within Me’ by Aaliyah, Age 13, Thomas Clarkson Academy

I was sitting on my bed when I heard an audible ‘BANG!’ from outside. I unlocked my phone, terrified, to find a bomb warning in my vicinity! I peered out my window and saw all the debris flying around; the calamity had just barely avoided me. I gathered my essentials: a couple sets of clothes, my passport, some water and food, and my rabbit, Roger, and set out. My phone’s sirens blasted in my ears. My adrenaline began to rise at a rapid pace. Looking around, all I could see were the ruins of a few houses, some of which were barely standing. I knew who lived in those houses, but they’re probably gone now.

Running across the rubble, I could see nails laying around, everywhere. I searched which direction the nearest country was, and all I could do was go West. The more I ran, the quicker my heartbeat became, until it felt like it was about to burst out of my chest. I was concerned about my parents, friends, and relatives; where were they now? Are they all right?

It felt like I’d been running for days when I eventually arrived at the border, but it had only been 5 hours. Hundreds of explosions could be heard during my run.

“Sit on the cart, please ma’am,” the uniformed man instructed, and I obeyed. I sat on the waggon with around ten other strangers fleeing the atrocious battle. Everyone’s clothes appeared to be in shambles, with rips and some significant scratches from falling onto the nails. I examined Roger and found just ash on his fur; thankfully, no cuts were visible. He appeared terrified.

People in army uniforms with enormous rifles hopped onto the front and rear of the cart, and it began to move. As it proceeded, I noticed a banner that said, ‘You are leaving Kosovo, welcome to Albania.’ I noticed a medical tent, a canteen, and a tent with mattresses inside when we arrived. I went to the tent with the mattresses and sat on one of them. I spread several blankets on the ground and laid Roger down. My mind was racing. I’m so glad I got away from that calamity, but I’m worried about everyone else who was left behind.