Protesting in Autumn

A short story about war time, a protest unfolds and becomes violent, a little girl is separated from her mother.

The streets were lined with eucalyptus trees. Petunia and her mother were showered with red and orange leaves. She bent down to pick a leaf off the ground, but mother pulled her along. A gust of wind swept through hurling leaves into the air. Mother clenched Petunia’s hand firmly, Petunia wondered if there was anything strong enough to pull their hands apart.

“Watch your step” said mother as they stepped over a curb.

The cross walk was buzzing with movement, dozens of men and women suddenly appeared. They had cellphones to their ears and lugged around camera equipment in their hands.

Petunia became curious as she saw people standing along the curb. She stopped to peek through the thicket of legs, but her mother pulled her along. The marchers chanted and banged wooden sticks against metal pots.

“They’re just kids,” said a woman’s voice.

“Kids-Pfft! Since when did we start calling adults, children!” said an older man’s voice.

There were hundreds of people marching in the street. Some had their faces covered with bandanas, others held signs in the air, but Petunia couldn’t read so she didn’t know what they said.

“Don’t let go of my hand!” said mother as they attempted to cross the street.

Petunia held her mother’s hands tightly. She bumped into a man’s belly then a woman’s thigh, she pushed away someone’s backpack and squeezed between two ladies who had painted their faces red. There was just too many of them.

Petunia started sweating, her hands grew clammy then suddenly there was screaming. The crowd rushed forward and Petunia’s hand slipped away from mother’s grasp. Petunia was hurled forward by the frenzied crowd.

A police officer on horseback had trampled protestors.  People began throwing their signs, pots, and soda bottles at him. He saw Petunia in his path, he yanked on his horse’s reigns. Although he had stopped for only a second, it was long enough for the protestors to grab him.

Petunia froze and glanced in all directions for her mother, but she found only more protestors. They were now beating the officer, kicking him in his stomach, back, and head.

A pair of hands lifted her off the ground, she clung to the stranger’s neck. When she heard mother’s voice she turned to see her mother crying. She reached out to her mother. They embraced each other and the officer who rescued Petunia returned to the commotion.

Back on the street, metal canisters flew into the air filling the street with white smoke. The officers in gas mask grabbed at the protestors dragging them by the neck. Petunia clung to her mother’s neck, glad that she had made it out of there alive.

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