they said that they had been aiming for the keepers, that the rebellion was only looking to thin out the numbers, but the ceiling had caved in, more than they expected, and trapped them all.
the keepers and the miners.
and my parents.
because they had been working, double shifts, midnight hours, and they'd just happened to be there when the bomb went off.
i didn't understand at first, not until they explained it to me but sometimes when i listen real hard, i think i can hear them scream through the rubble.
because the boys that still hang around the square, they tell ghost stories about the ones who didn't die in the explosion, about how they suffocated all alone in the dark.
(i can't close the curtains to sleep anymore.)
but it was the rebels.
it was their fault.
they killed my parents.
joah takes care of us now.
and when we were younger, when we were closer, he used to walk me to school everyday, before he dropped out and got a job instead.
but when mom and dad died he started unraveling.
he was convinced that we were wrong. that it was an accident. because he had grown up idolizing the soldiers, and was determined to join them, to drag us up and out of this hellhole.
i was always the little brother. but i was never that naive.
i was never stupid.
i spat at joah, tried to climb his shoulders and give him a shiner for disrespecting our parents like that.
i told him that even though he was three years older, i wasn't afraid of him.
i wasn't afraid of picking fights or snitching or stomping on rebel graves.
i wasn't afraid of anything anymore (except when the closet door shut behind me late at night and the only light came from the crack between the hinges where the moon shone through and i could hear joah snoring on the other side but i couldn't do anything because i couldn't breathe and-)
because the rebels had taken everything, had brought war home with them, and i knew that we were on our own.
us against them.
a month after the accident we went to the market stalls. and one of the old men, one of those gnarled veterans who always sat in the seam with their palms outstretched, he took my wrist and tucked a folded piece of paper between my fingers.
the pavement glimmered and he choked, sounded like a dying man during his last days, "the canaries still sing." he said. long live the rebellion.
i threw the note into the gutter and pointed the keepers towards him.
Your parents did what they had to. They loved you, and they knew the risks. Forgive them. But you can still pick up where they left off, there's a spot with us if you want it, just find Roach. There isn't much time.