This was the worst time of the day, he was sure of it. He hadn't used to feel that way, there had been a time when he had thought of dusk as just the opposite. With the sun settling low in the sky as it faded into a wash of purples, oranges, and reds, could anything have been more beautiful? But that was before.
Gathering together the water containers he slung the three smaller, which were connected by a length of cording, across his shoulder before grabbing the larger two. "Danijela, I'm going to go before it gets fully dark." He made the announcement even as he knew that it was one he made almost every time he went out at this time.
"Be careful, Luka." His young wife came around the corner with their son draped over her shoulder.
"I always am." He stepped closer so that he could give first the sleeping boy, then her a kiss. "I'll be fine, it's been fairly quiet." He gave his wife a smile of reassurance
"Jasna, come give Tata a kiss before I go." He called to his daughter, knowing that he couldn't leave without seeing her in the oft chance the worst did happen.
Almost immediately a miniature version of his wife appeared and locked her arms around his knees before he sat the two water jugs down and picked her up.
"Can't I come?" She slid her arms around his neck with the request she knew would be denied.
"You know you can't." He kissed her forehead before pressing his to hers. "I'll be back though before I go to work. Be good for Mama, help her with Marko."
"I will." The quiver of withheld tears was in the words despite her attempt to hold them back.
"Okay, baby, I need to go." He shifted his head so that he could kiss the girl once more before sitting her back on the ground. After mouthing a final I love you to his wife he opened the door and grabbed the containers. "I'll be back as soon as I can."
While the dash to the water spigot had been fairly quiet the run back from it was looking to be a not so. The line for the tap had been longer than usual and by the time his turn came he could already hear an increase in the rounds being exchanged. As he finished and shouldered his burden he quickly crossed himself before grasping the larger containers, one in each hand and beginning the zigzag run back toward their apartment.
The trip was one he would never get used to. Running from one side of the street to the otherwas just one of the methods he used to evade the snipers that he knew watched over the streets. Pulling up to a stop at a corner his breath came in ragged gasps, and he used the time not just to catch it but to make sure the coast was clear before taking off again. He barely acknowledged the several other people who stood with him, though when they, as a group, stepped off the curb and began their own dashes for safety he too moved.
When the sounds of gunfire seemed to suddenly break out around them Luka somehow found a renewed burst of energy despite the screaming of his lungs. Running though the empty streets he crossed to an alleyway only to be forced to duck as the mortar above his head splintered and rained down on his hair. For a moment he was sure his heart was going to stop and he stumbled, nearly losing his balance as he realized just how close he had come to being on the receiving end of one of the sniper's bullets. Danijela couldn't know, it was hard enough for her now, if she knew how vulnerable he really was...he couldn't do that to her.