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In Memory Of Those Who Have Gone Before.

In Memory Of Those Who Have Gone Before.

Some thoughts on the recent Manchester bombing that claimed so many innocent lives.

Hello, I'm Saffie and I'm just eight years old.
I hope you'll forgive me if I don't make much sense,
But I'm a bit confused just at this moment
And I don't quite understand what's going on.
Mum and Dad had promised me something special,
A really nice treat for my birthday present,
And I jumped for joy when they told me the news
About the tickets for the Ariana gig.
We got a train from Preston to Manchester,
Just Mum, my sister and me — it’s not Dad’s scene;
It was great — the entrance to the Arena
Was right by the train station — we went straight in
And it was so exciting to be inside
With hundreds of other fans, nearly all girls —
Boys think Ariana’s soppy — they're silly,
And they just have no idea what they're missing.

Ariana was absolutely brilliant,
She sang all my favourites, and many more,
And everyone knew all the words, except Mum,
So we all sang along as loud as we could
Until we lost our voices, then we just hummed.
Time just flashed by, but then it was all over;
The lights came on and people started to leave.
Mum hustled us up the stairs towards the doors,
“Hurry up girls,” she shouted, “we've not got long,
The train goes in ten minutes time, so stay close.
Your Dad will be waiting at Preston station
With the car.” — She really could have texted him
From the train, but you know what grown ups are like,
She hasn't a clue how to use her iPhone.
We were near the front of the queue for the doors
And a nice man in a bright yellow jacket
Said “You seem to have enjoyed yourselves tonight,
Safe journey home,” and smiled as he showed us out —
I think he might have patted Mum on the bum.

It wasn't far to the train station entrance,
And we were halfway there when there was a flash
And a very loud bang that made my ears hurt.
Then everything went black for a few moments,
And when I opened my eyes I was floating
As if I was dreaming — I felt so peaceful.
I could see other people floating like me,
Most of them young, but there were some grown ups too;
They all looked puzzled, except for one young man
Who looked angry, and sort of confused as well.
He had brown skin like some of kids at my school,
The ones whose mums wear a headscarf all the time,
I've heard some parents shouting rude things at them,
But I can't see what all the fuss is about,
I've seen photos in our family album
Of my great grannie with a scarf on her head —
Dad says she had curlers on underneath,
Whatever they are. Mum uses curling tongues
When she and Dad are going out somewhere nice,
But I don’t think that's what he meant by curlers,
I must ask Mum sometime to explain to me.
Great Gran worked in a cotton mill in Oldham
Before she got married — Dad showed me pictures
On Wikipedia of the sort of place,
And all the women were wearing headscarves too.

When I looked down at the ground it was horrible —
There were bodies everywhere and lots of blood,
And I could see Mum and Ashlee lying there,
They were very still and their clothes were all torn;
I think they were screaming — it was very strange,
I couldn't hear a thing, perhaps I am dead.
I looked at my watch, except it wasn't there,
In fact I didn't seem to have a body,
Well not the sort of body I was used to,
And it was strange, time seemed sort of different,
As if I was able to see the future,
Although I couldn't go back before the thing,
Which I have now learned was a suicide bomb.
I have also discovered other strange things.
I can go anywhere, I just have to think
Where I want to be, and bingo I am there,
And I know things I've never been taught at school,
And weirdest of all, I can hear people's thoughts.
I have stood beside both Mum and Ashlee’s beds;
They were in hospital and Dad was there too,
They were crying and laughing at the same time.
I am so glad they will get better in time,
Thanks to the wonderful doctors and nurses,
But at the moment they are all very sad;
I only wish I could reach out to touch them
And tell them I love them and that I'm okay,
But that is a barrier I cannot cross.

I have been to many parts of Manchester,
And seen so many ordinary people
Doing wonderful things, comforting strangers,
Lighting candles, leaving bunches of flowers,
Writing messages in books of condolence,
United in their grief at the loss of life.
People from different places and cultures,
Those with faith in some religion, and with none,
Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and atheists,
All that mattered was their solidarity,
In the face of senseless evil and hatred.
I have seen small groups and thousands of people,
Gathered together in silent memory,
And I have heard their thoughts, and felt their sadness.
There have been some filled with rage, wanting vengeance,
But only a very few, a very few.
Overwhelming was the determination
Not to let it affect their communities,
And to carry on doing things they enjoyed,
Unshakable in their belief in goodness,
And the unity of all human beings.

It will soon be time for me to leave this world.
It is starting to fade, not into darkness,
But into a wonderful light, drawing me
Home to a place of joy, peace and completeness.
I am not afraid, and I know that one day,
Dad and Mum, Ashlee, and all my family
Will join me there, and we will be together
United again for all eternity.


This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © 2020 by Keith Paver

All rights reserved, including all copyrights and all other intellectual property rights in the contents hereof.

The compositions and contents herein are not to be copied, reproduced, printed, published, posted, displayed, incorporated, stored in or scanned into a retrieval system or database, transmitted, broadcast, bartered or sold, in whole or in part without the prior express written permission of the sole author. Unauthorized duplication is strictly prohibited and is an infringement of National and International Copyright laws.

All names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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