In the Eye of a Mushroom Cloud


It was an abnormally peaceful day in our harbor town of Hiroshima. No one anticipated, apprehended, or imagined that the summer of 1945 would unfold as it did. I am a Japanese school boy. I can remember the day before summer break was supposed to begin.

I was out playing ball with some friends when my mom told me I had school tomorrow. “What,” I thought, “she must be joking. Even though we were in the middle of World War II school children still needed a summer break. She just couldn’t be right.” School was often interrupted in our crowded city due to the incessant bombings which had caused 380000 people to scamper for cover. Our city drew attention from the Americans due to our hub of communications, ammunition supplies, and numbers of assembled troops. I often would see a myriad of troops in uniforms and hear the cries of “banzai” drifting up from the harbor. From my eyes, I saw the effects of the military’s presence everywhere.

During school I underwent instruction in military tactics. Store front windows were barricaded with paper to prevent exploding glass from maiming citizens. Sadly, our stomachs would growl for more food: our diet reduced to a handful of rice and tasteless bean soup. Eventually my mother even turned in her sacred kimono so that the material could be used for basic cloths. Given all the effects of war it shouldn’t have surprised me that we possibly could have school all the way through summer. She then asked if I had any homework left which I did because I never do it all in the same day. Despairingly, I said “yes” and had to go in and do my homework.

“Man I hated math and science, how do they applied to my life as a teen. I think they are so stupid.” The next day was the same as all school days except for one part. I would endure first through fourth periods and then a lunch break. Afterwards I would suffer through fifth, sixth, and seventh period and then tramp home to do homework. Although, today was June 18 the day we were supposed to get out for summer unless they postpone it for another couple of days because of an air raid. In the end, school did let out for summer but Mrs. Akemi gave us a summer math packet. Immediately upon being given the math packet, excuses fired in my head like my dog tore it up, I lost my backpack and it was in there, and I left it in my locker at the end of school. However the math packet turned out to be the least of the surprises of the summer of 1945: this summer had a very packed, explosive, and devastating surprise for everyone in Hiroshima which changed all of us forever.

The summer unfolded like every other summer during the war: I played ball with friends, swam in the ocean, and played army. Of course bombings, gunfire, and screeching air raid sirens continued to be a part of our daily life. It was normality, until today, August 6 1945. There was an unusual cluster of bombers and fighters fling over head this morning. The airplanes were dropping bombs and swooping down, with guns ablaze constantly. All of a sudden, we caught the terrible sound of the screeching of a huge bomb dropping. It is deafening like someone scraping their nails on a chalk board times a hundred. The bomb was huge, like an 18-wheeler plummeting out of the clouds. We all ran for cover, thinking it was just a regular bomb. Then it hit. I flew all the way down a 2mile alleyway before landing on my back. The cloud it emitted from the bomb was coming toward me fast. It looked like a jellyfish rising up from the ground with rings of color: black, white, red, and yellow to make a color I cannot describe. In three seconds it reached thousands of meters into the sky. After thirty seconds it stopped rising and started across the city. The city became dark as the cloud settled over the sun. As I sat up I was horrified. Everything was plastered to the ground: trees, buildings, bushes, flowers, and people lying motionless like cased away dolls. Resisting the urge to close my eyes I took in the horrible scene before me. The devastation was so great that after a few seconds I could not bear to look any more. I have been sitting here recounting this event and now I most muster up enough strength to walk to the next town. My strength is not returning, my eyelids are feeling ever so heavy. I think I will close my eyelids and rest here a little longer and then write more later.

Then after awhile a girl walked by and picked up his journal. She wrote this. I have been walking around trying to find survivors but instead I have found this boy and his journal. I want to finish his story because his eyes will never open again. He is just one of so many victims to this unusual bomb that was dropped on our city. There is still a dark cloud encamped our over us. It has a diameter of 12 miles and the radiation from it is reaching over hundreds of miles. We realize that it is the radiation that is killing us day by day. Thousands upon thousands have already died. More are dying every day. I don’t know if I will die today, tomorrow, or in the next month. I wonder at night when I close my eyes, “will I open them again or will I end up like this boy: eyes closed forever.” This young boy was right about this summer: it has altered all of our lives forever. I know that Japan will never forget this day.

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