By Kristen Mae of Abandoning Pretense
In the grey light of morning, she sits on the edge of her son’s bed, readying to wake him. But he’s too precious to wake just yet, still clutching the stuffed dinosaur she tucked into his arms the night before, his thick eyelashes lying like black fans against his rosy cheeks. His peaceful face is a beautiful respite from the depressing morning news about war and terrorism and refugees. The pundits have been debating about whether or not to let the refugees in. The thought that a terrorist might sneak in with them sends a shiver of fear down her spine. She prays they will keep the borders closed.
In the grey light of morning, she crouches with her child in the corner, hovering over his sleeping body, readying to wake him. But he is too precious to wake just yet, still clutching the scrap of fabric she pilfered from a trash heap and knotted into a semblance of a doll. His thick eyelashes lay like black fans against his brown cheeks, his peaceful face a beautiful respite from the hellish reality of war and destruction all around them. But it is time to get moving; they can’t stay here. She prays that someone will take them in.
As she drives through a broken down part of downtown, she passes an emaciated homeless man pushing a shopping cart full of tin cans, and she remembers, I need to donate another few bags of canned goods to the shelter this week. She thinks again of the refugees, how much worse the homeless problem would be if we were to take them all in, how impossible it would be to keep up with that burden. She prays they will keep the borders closed.
As they trek through their ruined city, she thinks, We are all homeless now. There is no life left here. She prays that someone will take them in.
In the afternoon when she picks her son up from school, he remarks that they have a new student in class. That makes 30, she thinks, and though she pretends to be happy her son made a new friend, she privately worries about overcrowding of schools. She thinks of the refugees again, what a massive encumbrance it would be to carve out a place for all those children in a school system already stretched past capacity. She prays they will keep the borders closed.
In the afternoon, her son pulls a book from a pile of rubble. He beams and holds it up, and she smiles at his innocent joy. Imagine the luck of that, finding an intact book in this mess. Maybe her son will even get to attend school again one day, if they are lucky. She prays that someone will take them in.
In the evening, she opens the mail. There is a statement for her 401K. The account is still growing, which was good, but much slower than before. She thinks again of the refugee situation, how, if we were to accept all those people, they would further stress the economy. It could put everyone’s investments and retirement savings in jeopardy. She prays they will keep the borders closed.
In the evening, the explosions begin again. They have to run. For one absurd moment, her mind goes to the money her husband stashed away in a savings account. They’d been so diligent all those years, tucking away a bit here, a bit there. It’s all gone now. At this moment, if she could get her hands on that money, she would give all of it, every last penny, to pay for a helicopter to fly her family out of this nightmare. The ground shakes again, and as she clutches her son’s body to hers and runs, she prays that someone will take them in.
That night, as she tucks her son into bed, her mind turns again to the refugees. She does feel sympathy for their plight—her chest aches for them, in fact. She knows there are mothers out there, mothers like her, desperate to save their children’s lives and give them hope for a future. But what if we let those thousands of innocents in and a terrorist slips through? What if that terrorist attacks us? Our people? No, she thinks, we need to protect our own. She prays they will keep the borders closed.
That night, after the explosions stop, they settle into a different building, one that is at least less crumbling than the one they were in this morning. As she tucks her son in with his makeshift rag doll, she thinks of the terrorists who destroyed her home, her city, her country. She hates them. They have put her in a position where she must beg and hope and pray that someone might give her family the most basic requirement of human existence: a place to be.
And she prays that someone will take them in.
This post originally appeared on Abandoning Pretense.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kristen Mae is the best-selling author of Red Water and Beyond the Break, a freelance writer, classical musician, and artist. Follow her on Abandoning Pretense, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and check out her novels, available now at most online booksellers.