The Passed Note Issue 6 February 2018 - Page 37

Chantel Sandbach

Holding

We talked about leaving for a long time before we decided to go. It was a couple of months after Mama died and the fear, anger, and fighting in the streets was getting worse. We were scared and hungry all the time and we always had to stay inside. Papa told us about a place across the ocean where we would be safe. Where people didn't carry guns and children went to school, and where the houses didn't have holes in them from bullets and bombs. He said we could be free there, happy and safe.

He told us all of that, but said that we had to get there first, secretly. Because if we asked to come, they’d say no. But if we were there, standing in front of them, they could see the dirt on our clothes, the way our skin hung on our skinny bodies, the dull look in my little brother's eyes. If we were there, in front of them, and they could see us—really see us with their own eyes and hearts— they’d let us stay.

He told us all of this and told us that we would have to go in the belly of a ship. A great big ship. My little brother's eyes brightened a little when he asked if it would be a spaceship. And Papa smiled a smile that didn't reach his eyes and said no, not like a spaceship.

It’s just before dawn when we get to the ship. We can see it isn’t a great ship. It is just a boat. A big one at first, it seems, but after many days, this not-ship seems tiny.