She thought they would take longer to get there.  The voice on the old radio seemed always to be speaking of a distant land, some far-off kingdom.  Every night, as her father pulled the sheets up and over her body that shook in the cold, he assured her that in the morning, there would be school.  Children would run as they always had, carefree and optimistic.  Businessmen would put on three-piece suits and board trains to the center of town.  Mothers would rise early, making breakfasts and reading the gossip pages.  Bakers would fill the neighborhoods with the aroma of perfectly blended spices amid flour and yeast.  Streetlights would dim and go out.  Car horns would blow.  Sunlight would scream down alleyways, bouncing off windowpanes and setting the day aflame.

She could accept that he had lied, but she could never forgive him.  Peering over the hill, she saw them marching, driving, crawling like rats, hungry for their next meal.  It did little good to run.  She was not too young to know this.  She was not too young to understand.

Classes would be canceled and school would close.  The children would run into the arms of their parents or whoever was left.  The men would leave their suits hanging perfectly in closets while women stuffed boxed and canned food into bags too heavy to carry far.  Shopkeepers would take leave of their baked goods and flowers and morning newspapers.  The roads would choke on idling automobiles beneath the broken streetlights.  The sun would look on as the sky obscured itself, hiding behind the smoke, waiting its turn.

She stood, brushing dust from her knees and slinging her knapsack over her left shoulder.  She would walk down the hill, back into town, past her home, past the schoolhouse, down the darkened streets and back to hope:  the only lie left worth believing.