Blue Skies (Story by R.C. Peris)

Blue skies used to be nice. Beautiful. The expanse of the sky was breathtaking. I played with my friends under the skies. We played soccer. We ran and laughed. Mohammed, an elder in my village, told us to be careful.

“There are eyes in the sky and sometimes they bring fire.” He sipped his mint tea.

In February, an aunt was getting married. All our family came. They danced and drank and ate in a larger home that belonged to my grandmother. I was bored with the wedding so I went outside to the blue skies and played football with a cousin. My cousin kicked the ball too far and I chased it away from the house and that’s when the blue skies turned to fire. I looked back and the house had exploded. I saw my little cousin, Doha, stagger from the rubble. She was missing an arm.

Mohammed said it was a drone. He took me into his home and then paid to send me to Europe where I had a relative. He lived in Stockholm, Sweden. It was a long and arduous journey. I traveled in boats and trucks.

The sky was blue in Sweden and I was afraid. My relative told me not to be afraid.

“No drones here.” He handed me a towel and told me to bathe.

The next day I sat across from a blonde woman at a government office who asked me questions with a translator. She wanted to know about my family. I explained they were killed by a drone.

“Yes, but who were they? Terrorists?” She looked serious. Her eyebrows were blonde. I found them beautiful. Sweden was beautiful. But they didn’t want me here. There were protesters outside the building. They wanted Muslims to go home. I tried to explain that all I wanted was to kick a ball under a blue sky. A blue sky that doesn’t turn to fire.

“We must investigate your family,” she said. “But you can stay here for now.”

I went outside with my relative. We passed the protesters. There were some children in the park across the street. They were playing football. I joined them as my relative talked on his cell phone. I had fun. I didn’t understand the children. They didn’t speak Arabic and I didn’t speak Swedish. But we had fun under the blue sky that my relative promised would not turn into fire.

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