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A monologue from the play by J. Thalia Cunningham
Destiny, a former child soldier in Liberia, has come to the United States as an undocumented refugee, where she struggles to navigate the battlefield of an inner-city high school while keeping her past a secret and striving for an education.
She has learned that her that her friend, Martina, a gang member, is HIV+. She refuses to take Martina’s baby, Sofia, should Martina die, because she prefers to remain focused on her education. This refusal of the child catalyzes her recollection of what happened to her own baby when she was a child soldier.
Destiny (early twenties, Liberian)
You were only a few months old. But already such a bright little girl! Laughing and chattering such pretty sounds. How I loved you!
I would have gladly given my life for you, but it wouldn’t have helped. It was time to go out fighting again. They gave us drugs, slitting our foreheads with razors so cocaine would go directly into the bloodstream.
Then they performed the ritual to make us brave. There you were, the next one to be sacrificed. He picked you up. I screamed and cried, but he held his knife to my throat and said he’d kill me, too, if I made one more sound.
He slit your throat, a flash of unbearable pain, while a soldier about my age held a cup to collect your blood. My own flesh was on fire.
The cup was passed around for all of us to drink. I drank without thinking. My eyes were only on you, as you slowly stopped crying and wiggling and breathing, the last drops of blood dripping out your chubby little neck like water from a leaky tap.
Then you were still, so still. Your blood ringed my lips as I rushed forth to gather you in my arms, but they wouldn’t even let me hold you once more.
His knife was in my back as we carried our guns out into the bush. I turned back to look at your little body, a naked scrap of promise lying in the dust.
He prodded me, forcing me to turn around, mixing your blood with mine. The scar is all I have left of you. How I long to hug you, kiss you. It hurts.
It hurts so much.