All Stories, General Fiction

Shattered Lives by Diane M Dickson


It is dark here, the floor is wet and the smell is dreadful. The window is barred and I can’t reach it to see out. There is nothing in this stone room, nothing except me and Alia.

She won’t let me touch her, she sobbed for a long time when they brought her back and threw her onto the dirt floor. They laughed at me. I scuttled backwards on my bottom, pushing with my feet. Like a crab, like a black beetle trying to hide in the cracks in the wall. I have never felt such fear. They laughed at me and pointed and the smaller one just said, “Later.”

I don’t know what they did to Alia. She is curled in a tight ball on the floor, she whimpered and her body trembled, trembles still. There is blood on her clothes, it comes from her private parts and has spread in a great stain. I tried to help her, my sister, but she screamed from her broken mouth and wouldn’t let me touch her. I tried to take her hand but her fingers are broken and I couldn’t find a way to hold it. Her face is bloody and bruised. If I didn’t know her clothes I could not have recognised her face. I wonder if it would be better to be dead.

I want to embrace her but she is curled so tightly that I can’t wrap my arms around her and she cries whenever I try. I don’t think that she knows it is me.

I want to go home.

The light is fading now and I know that I should pray but I have no idea which way is Meccah and there is no water for me to make my ablutions. I will recite some verses. God will not be angry with me. I will recite some verses for my broken sister lying there on the dirt in a pool of blood and urine.

Mummy, I wish I could see Mummy.

She pleaded with us not to become involved. She said that we should stay at home, we are women and fighting is for the men. How could we stay at home? Our brother is already missing and our father lies in the hospital. How could we stay at home?

We should have stayed at home.

I hear screaming, I hear boots. Are they coming for me now? I am trembling like the leaves in the summer wind. My bladder lets go again. It doesn’t matter, my clothes are stained and smell like the stable. My sister is lying in her own blood.

The boots have passed the door and the screaming is fading.

I think that they have shot some of the men. There was shouting outside the window, gunshot and screams and then silence. I think that they must have shot them.

Alia screams now and again.

What will Mummy do now? All there are left at home are the younger ones and Ali with his vacant eyes and his drooling mouth. How will she live? She will have to go to her brother’s house. They will take her in but how will that be for them.

The tears flow again, useless and endless.

When they come I will try to stand. I will try to stand like a rock or a tree and I will be brave. I hope that I can be brave. I tried to stand when they came to take Alia but I was like a newborn goat, my legs were boneless and I fell to the floor where they kicked me into the corner.

I will stand when they come for me.

I want to go home.

Diane M Dickson

12 thoughts on “Shattered Lives by Diane M Dickson”

  1. Chilling, Diane.
    I’m assisting with the translation of a book detailing 40 years of violence in Indonesia, including dozens of victim testimonies. The terrible stories I have read, of the state-sanctioned atrocities in this country, have left me feeling equal parts angry and depressed.
    Your story depicts a frightening reality that has, sadly, been experienced by untold millions throughout human history.
    Would that it were only fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes indeed – everyday there are incidents of man’s inhumanity to man and it seems that we are never going to find a way out of the horror – as you say it leaves one angry and sad and in many ways feeling hopeless. Thank you for the feedback and good luck with the translation – that sounds like a difficult job.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is one of the most horrific stories I’ve ever read! Very emotional and as already been said very tragic. I was really affected by this one. Great writing. ATVB my friend


  3. Sadly, we need reminders like this, sickening as they are to read. You actually do a service to humanity by having the courage and the skill to lay it out as it is. Beautifully done! Thank you! June


    1. Thank you as ever June. It was hard to write and I still find it hard to read to be honest, especially when we know that even now this sort of thing is happening.


  4. This is a brilliant piece of writing Diane. It’s powerful and left me with chills. Hard to imagine that things like this occur in the world but sadly they do and this is a stark reminder of that fact. Hard to read, and no doubt hard to write but I think this a story that needed to be told.


  5. Hi Diane, this is as powerful as you have written. The unfortunate relevance of your story makes us count our own blessings and realise that maybe our opinions on where we live are opinions only and not a living, repressive hell.


  6. thanks Hugh – It was a hard piece to write but how immeasurably harder if this is all part of your life which it is for so many. Other peoples problems don’t lessen our own trials but it’s good to remember that there is indeed always someone facing greater challenges. Man’s inhumanity to man is a dreadful thing to contemplate.


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