Hey people! This is my first story on fictionpress, so it might be a little awkward at times. This begins in Uganda on the bank of the Albert Nile…

Hope gazed out at the reflection of the setting sun on the water. It shivered through the red and orange of the sky. She would come out here by the river to think sometimes. And right now, she had lots to think about.

Her village sat near the banks of the river in northwest Uganda. She had lived there her entire life. But as she grew in the village, so did her longing and curiosity to go somewhere she had never seen, somewhere new. Her family, especially her parents, never wanted her out of their sight. They claimed it's "dangerous." What danger could there be when we're in the middle of nowhere? she asked herself. She loved her family, but they could be paranoid sometimes.

The only family member who she loved more than anyone, though, was her little brother, Jacob. He was four years old and very skeptical about things, except Hope. Anything she told him to do, he did. But it wasn't her size advantage, nor the nine year difference in age between them, but their connection as sister and brother, daughter and son, care giver and care receiver. Someone made a comment once that if Hope told him too kill someone or jump off a cliff, he would probably do it. They said it jokingly, but most knew that was the honest truth.

Hope's thoughts of faraway places were rattled by the squeak of a little voice.

"Hope?"

"Hmm?"

"Watcha doing?" Jacob asked innocently.

"I'm just thinking."

"You're always thinking!" he complained a little as he climbed into her lap.

"And you're never thinking!" Hope answered back and tickled him on his little belly. She was always proud to be the one to make him giggle like he did.

"So watcha thinkin' 'bout?"

"Oh… I don't know. Just some places, I guess…"

"Like made up places or real places?"

"They could be real places, maybe."

"Huh. Well Mama says you have to come help with the cooking," Most of the time, Jacob could never really understand how Hope could sit still and just think for that long, but she could speak her thoughts around him when she needed to. They both stood and made their way back into the village.

"There you are, Hope!" her mother yelled. "Where on Earth have you been? You know you have chores to do! What did I tell you? If you're going to go daydream nonsense, you must finish your chores first!..." her mother could drone on and on about things sometimes. Hope had taught herself when she was about Jacob's age to tune out her mother, but still look like she was listening. She knew it seemed disrespectful, but she really didn't need her mother nagging her day and night.

"… UNDERSTAND???" her mother shrieked, fuming mad by now.

"Yes, Mother," Hope said quietly. She slouched away to go fetch water, with Jacob at her heels like a little lost puppy.

"Why does she always yell at me like that?" she asked Jacob, frustrated.

"I dunno," he answered, mouth of a banana he had found earlier.

"Someday, Jacob, you and I are going to leave here and go live in a big city, where no one tells us what to do or where to go. It'll just be you and me." Hope had no idea that 'someday' was that night.

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She woke up with the full moon staring her in the face. Jacob was snuggled up next to her, asleep and shivering, though it wasn't cold She silently got up and squinted to see the village, or what was left of it She could only see thick gray smoke around it.

"Jacob. Jacob! Wake up!" she whispered loudly and patted him on the head.

"Wh-what? Huh?" he grunted from grogginess.

"Come on, I think we fell asleep while we were talking. We have to go." She picked him up and began to walk towards the village. But as they grew nearer to it, she realized the horror that had taken place while she had slept.

She carried her brother through the ashes that used to be her village. The smoke loomed over the place, like a giant, black monster, waiting for her to be off guard and devour her, as it had with her family.

"Mama?" Jacob whimpered. "Hope, where's Mama?"

"I… I don't know," she responded, though knowing full well where they were now. The two eventually found the place where their family's hut used to be. Something shimmered and caught Hope's eye. She dusted it off and saw that it was her older sister, Mary's, necklace. It had somehow miraculously avoided the flames. Their father had given it to her as a gift, a sort of "symbol" for being the oldest. But it seemed that Hope was the oldest now. She put it around her neck and called for Jacob.

"Where is everybody?" he asked.

"Um… Well I-I think they, um…"

Jacob's face became frightened. "Are they… dead?" He grew pale on the last word.

"Well… you know, there's always that slight chance of it…" she tried to make it seem a little better, but she could never hide it. Her entire family was gone, and the only upside was that Jacob was still with her.

The sight of the ghost village was beginning to scare them, mostly her. She took Jacob's hand and began to walk.

"Where are we going, Hope?" he asked.

She looked around the barren land. "Away from here."

Well I hope you liked it. I had a hard time with the wording of some things, so if it sounds weird, then I'm sorry. But reviews are appreciated, so that I know how to make it better!