The Boy and the Fish

by Kai

People say the goal of resilience is to thrive, but in my case, I had to be resilient to survive. Survival wasn’t easy. There were days I felt like giving up, just throwing in the towel and surrendering myself to the unforgiving powers of nature.

It was winter in North Point, Alaska, and I, a 9-year-old, newly orphaned boy, was struggling to make it. The Storm had not been kind to anyone. Homes were destroyed, families ripped apart, and lives changed forever. Everyone was struggling to survive, and the hope for salvation grew dimmer and dimmer with each passing day.

My parents didn’t deserve to die. No one deserves to die, at least that’s what I used to think. But the harsh cold of winter had taken its toll on my heart, forcing the once loving and empathetic organ to become merciless and morally corrupt. I was forced to be this way, forced by the snow, by the cold and the wind, forced by the hands of the God I no longer prayed to, the one who would never answer my prayers, forced by the ones who took my parents away from me.

They wore black from head to toe—the only accent of color coming from their heavy fur coats, the ones that earned them their names. “The Coats” were a savage group of survivors. They were ruthless, going around tearing up refugee camps, taking everything they could, depleting the promise of salvation.

My mother and father had promised me that the camp we had chosen to settle in would be home. They promised no harm would come to us, they promised we would be safe. They were wrong.

It was in the dark of night when they came for our village. That was the way The Coats did it. Under the cover of darkness, they ravaged our camp, leaving us with nothing. I had been the only one to escape with my life. My parents, along with the 20 other families in the camp had not had been so lucky. It had all happened so fast, far too fast for my young mind to process. All the screaming, the pain, the blood. It had all been too much for me, so I ran. I ran until my legs gave way, and I fell to the snowy ground.

And so here I am. Kneeling in two inches of brackish snow, near the pond my parents used to take me to, watching a fish sway back and forth in the frigid water. I have but one thought in my mind in that moment. Survive. With that in mind, I plunge my hands into the icy water, and wait. I wait patiently for the scaly beast to fall into my trap. Feeling the slippery scales of the fish between my palms, I close my hands, trapping the creature in a cage of fingers. I yank my hands from the water, coming face to face with my soon-to-be dinner. With hunger and desperation in my eyes, I bite down hard into the fish.

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