• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 10
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Take Only What You Can Carry

...they told us, so I keep my handbag by the door. I’m clever that way. My husband says I’m foxy. Because in my handbag I have two die-cast cars and Dolly. Passports. Pen and paper, a few sheets, to draw, play knots-and-crosses, and make boats. Snacks. I checked the expiry date, it’s next year’s May. It should all be over by then. Everyone thinks so, even my husband and he always checks his facts… I keep a water bottle too, in my handbag. Tissues. A change of clothes for each one of our children – packed tight. I watched a guy on YouTube demonstrating how you can roll a hoodie in its sleeve and make it the size of a wallet. Okay, a bigger wallet.

So with my handbag by the door, when we need to run, I’ll grab it and hang it over my shoulder, across my chest, like the mailman’s bag when we still used to get mail delivered. And had a mailman. Then my hands would be free to grab both our kids. One hand for each. My son with my right hand, that’s my dominant hand, so I can quickly scoop him onto my hip if he gets too tired to walk. My daughter with my left hand, for she’s my heart and my husband also stays by my left side, close to my heart. Then she’ll be protected between us.

They told us we can only take what we can carry. This is all I can. All I need.

In my head, half asleep and all quiet so none will worry, I’ve imagined rushing off many times. Went through one scenario after another. It didn’t happen the way I thought it would.

We were chased away in the middle of the night. So I grabbed my handbag and my kids and we were off to the metro station. An adventure, I told them. Where to, they asked? I looked a question at my husband. Pale in the neon light while we were waiting for the metro.


Take Only What You Can Carry

We’ll see, I smiled, a little too wide. We’ll decide when we get there.

The metro opened but none dared step inside.

A backpack. A lawnmower. A plastic crate were standing by the open door.

Where is everybody? they asked me.

I shook my head.

I don’t know. I don’t know.