I’m sorry, my dearest little one. I’m sorry, Mussie. We can’t go to the slide park today.

You’re not even two, but you know exactly how to melt my heart. You tilt your head slightly to your right, and look up at me with your beautiful eyes. With the sweetest tone of voice, like a soft harp in the wind, you plead with me.

“Please, Mum? Please go slide park? Slide park fun! Please, Mum?”

Those eyelashes. Big dark eyelashes batting at me, framing your wide innocent eyes. I want to say yes.

“How about we go to our park instead? We’ll have so much fun on the swing!”

The park right outside our building. It’s tiny. You’ve been there every day this summer. You’re super bored of it. It’s not fun like the slide park, but it’s safe.

It has a bomb shelter.

You don’t understand why we go to the bomb shelter. You’re too young. Too pure. Instead, you believe us when we say it’s a game. It’s just a fun game that our whole building plays together.

The siren goes off, or the “noise,” as you like to call it. You’re really good at imitating it—you even made me jump from my seat a few times. It’s a fun noise, for you. When the noise goes off, we all run out of our apartment and into our building’s bomb shelter with all our neighbors. Then you do the dance. Your excited dance—because you love to see everyone coming together. The neighbors laugh at your innocence. You think they’re happy with you, but really, they’re happy because of you.

Then we all count the “booms.” Oh, you love counting. You haven’t quite figured out the order of numbers yet, but you still love to count the booms. When a boom is particularly loud, all the neighbors jump. That’s when Mommy and Daddy kiss you, and hug you tight. We tell you it’s okay, booms are just part of the game.

Part of a game that you don’t really understand. A dark and dangerous game, one that you should never know. My dear Mussie, you’re too pure, too innocent, to know this game. The game of terror, the game of evil. A game where people want to hurt you, just because of who you are.

No. You don’t know this game. You live in a happy, innocent world. You just want to go to the slide park. Your favorite park. It’s got slides so high, you have to climb four levels to get all the way up. That’s okay; you’re a fearless toddler. With Daddy in tow, you tackle all the ladders and ropes. You giggle with excitement as you near the top. It’s a long way up, but it’s worth it for you—the ride is fantastic!

Before going down the slide, you always take a peek. You always check and make sure no kids are standing at the bottom of the slide. Sometimes you completely abandon the ride down altogether, because someone is sitting at the bottom and won’t move. Because you don’t want to hurt anyone. Not a soul.

Because your world is a pure world.

A happy world.

I look into your eyes and pray for the day when your world will be our world.

But now, now I need to keep you near shelter.