• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 01
Image by


It had taken six years of long hard work and stringent budgeting for Firas to be able to lease this small store.

He’d chosen to sell gloves to indulge his passion for them, born of the hideous scars which served as hideous mementos of his homeland.

A pomegranate and blended blue pair reminded him of Lattakia beach that last day. A rash of scorch-marks and blotches of human blood and waste had marred once pristine sands as huddled families waited for deliverance.


As a boy, Firas had dreamed of going to America, making his fortune and returning to set himself up in style He had not so much ‘lost heart’ as lost his heart.

The dream had been eclipsed by the wondrous reality of Zeinah, but she was dead now.

Rebels with Yemeni accents had–

He daren’t let the grief loose. Not now. Not when Lely and Johnny had the chance to escape the imported insanity.

A Zodiac coasted towards his section of the beach, warily standing offshore.



Most were too busy trying to pile onto an old cuddy boat. It wheezed with the effort of staying afloat.

Firas shushed the children and ushered them towards the semi-rigid inflatable. The pilot nodded approvingly.

A few others had noticed and eased in their direction. Those closer and had already been helped aboard. A man with an Uzi was collecting fares.

As water lapped against his thighs, Firas recalled the times they had come to this beach in sunshine. They had laughed; Zeinah with her amber eyes–

Fumbling with heavily bandaged hands, he helped Lely and Johnny into the boat, the latter not quite big enough yet to scramble aboard on his own.

The pilot directed them to adjacent seating and reached down to help Firas aboard. He would sit on the rubber gunwale, ready to repel the tardy and desperate who’d overload the boat.

“Enough,” Helper said in English with a Greek accent. Mister Uzi made to object, his free hand sweeping towards the oncoming surge who had just noticed the Zodiac. “We’re quick enough to drop these off and come back several times,” Helper said in a terse voice, “but only if we keep it light and fast.” He ignored further objections, and went to the centre console, gently prying away curious young hands.

A woman had just reached the boat. Faris recognised her as a neighbour – Li – he’d rescued from burning rubble.

“He has two children there,” she screeched, pointing at Faris. “In the name of Allah, take my son instead of the girl.”



Her son, Sami, scowled at the back of Lely’s head. Faris was disgusted … and terrified.

Mister Uzi stood over Faris and demanded money. Faris cradled the notes, aware that the sodden roll of Syrian pounds might disintegrate.

Uzi sat as the powerful engines gunned into life, leaving the crowd clawing at seawater.

Faris let out a deep breath of relief. His smile froze as he saw Sami.


“My sweet Lely.”