The Sandals

The sun ascended over Hiroshima as a new day began.

Sunrays danced across the room and tickled little Matsuri's face. She woke with a yawn, before jumping out of her small futon bed. She raced out of the room, her small feet patting along the tatami floor.

Yuki and Daisuke were kneeling at the table, sipping at their tea. Actually, tea was almost impossible to get a hold of since the war had started. They just drank some hot water, with added herbs for flavour.

Matsuri ran in, her inky black hair bouncing on her shoulders, and a broad smile plastered on her face.

Daisuke would have stood up and picked up his little daughter, had it not been for his injury. He had fought in the war, but a bomb blast has crippled his leg. A soldier that couldn't stand properly was of no use to the Japanese army.

"Good morning my little Matsuri-flower!" he cooed, as the three-year-old wrapped her arms around his waist in a hug.

Matsuri's breakfast was ready on the table, a small bowl of rice. She was too young to use chopsticks, so she used a porcelain spoon. She began eating.

"Matsuri, where are your manners?" Yuki joked.

"Sorry Mummy," the little girl replied after swallowing her mouthful of rice. "I am very grateful for this meal!" Then she continued gobbling down the food. Her parents found themselves laughing at their little daughter.

After Matsuri had finished eating, she hurriedly got dressed. She picked up her bag and raced back to her parents.

"Come on Mummy!" she cried. "Time for school!" Matsuri didn't actually go to school. It was more like a playgroup, but calling it school made her feel important.

At the door, Matsuri put on her worn out, close to breaking, too small sandals.

"No wearing those sandals today Matsuri," said Yuki.

Matsuri gave her mother a confused look in reply. "Then what will I go to school in?"

Yuki disappeared out of the room, and then returned with a new pair of sandals, made from her old kimono. It used to be a beautiful garment, a light pink with dragonflies and roses embroided on it with silk. Yuki couldn't fit it since she had Matsuri, but she couldn't bear to get rid of it. Recently, she had discovered moth-bitten holes in the material, so she had made them into new sandals for her daughter.

Matsuri gazed in awe at her new shoes. She had always admired her mother's kimono. With a hug, a thanks and an 'I love you', Matsuri placed the sandals on her small feet. They were slightly too big, but the three-year-old was thrilled anyway.

Walking into the city was a long journey from their family home, as they lived right on the outskirts of Hiroshima, and they had to leave in the first sunrays of the day. Matsuri looked at her new sandals almost every second step.

At long last, they reached the group of children with which Matsuri would walk to the building in which they had playgroup in. Seeing as the teacher was there, Yuki kissed Matsuri good-bye, and started for home. The journey home was always faster without Matsuri's short legs to slow them down. Yuki smiled to herself, as she heard her daughter behind her, showing off her new shoes.

The girl walked with her 'class' to playgroup. They were about three quarters of the way there, when the teacher's watch read eight fifteen.

An US bomber plane flew up ahead, and dropped a single bomb.

The bomb was about twelve thousand metres off the ground when it exploded with a devastating blast. Matsuri barely had time to scream, when all she knew was consumed in a wall of fire.

Yuki and Daisuke walked in melancholy down the rows of the small bodies. The effects of the bomb were tragically devastating. The bodies around them used to be children, but their hair had all been burnt off, their skin blackened with fire, their faces, scorched beyond recognition, and the rags that used to be clothing, were now torn and blood-stained.

Matsuri was one of them.

The grieving parents joined several others, trying in vain to recognize which child was theirs.

Yuki glanced at a small, black, body, that was curled up in a small ball. Her mouth fell open, before she promptly burst into tears.

Daisuke limped over to his wife. "What's the matter Yuki?" he asked in concern. "Did you find…her?" He hesitated, as he was on the verge of tears himself.

Through her sobs, she pointed to the little, lifeless child.

Daisuke stared in disbelief. That couldn't be his little Matsuri-flower. She was a bright, cheerful girl in life. She couldn't be that burnt body before him. He was expecting her body to be a perfect image of when he has last seen her, like a pure, white, lonely iceberg, in a sea of death.

"Are you sure?" he asked his wife. "How can you tell?"

Yuki was crying to hard to speak, so she pointed to the little, scorched feet of the child. Daisuke fell silent.

There, on the child's feet, were too big, singed sandals, made from an old kimono of light pink material, with dragonflies and roses embroided on it in silk.

i hope you enjoyed! i'm thinking of entering this story in a writer's competition. should i? i think it might be too long though... PLease give me your honest opinion!