Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: FAMILY (01/21/16)
- TITLE: The Day We Left
By Francy Judge
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My thoughts drifted to that morning. The day started off perfect for a princess…my mother made delicious jam, flatbread, and hummus. I drank tea from my grandmother’s special teacup. My father kissed my cheeks. “You are growing up, Yara. Thirteen…aah…you’re a young lady now.”
Rima, my oldest sister, handed me a beaded necklace with a wooden cross, wrapped in tissue paper. “I made it for you. A beautiful necklace for my beautiful sister.” My parents gave me a small journal to write my stories. But the day didn’t end like a fairy tale. Rima was the first to shout, “What is that noise?” We rushed to the window and saw a man holding a rifle dragging our neighbor along the ground. A rowdy group of men kicked Nabil. The men wore shemaghs that covered their faces—all except their angry eyes. Flames consumed his house in minutes…
That’s when Father shouted for us to throw on all of our clothes and gather anything we considered valuable to fit in our pockets. My brothers collected small toys and marbles. Mamma wrapped her hand-sized Bible in paper and took her parents’ photo out of the frame. Rima hid a bottle of perfume and the bracelets her fiancé gave her in her pockets. We had to sneak out the back door of our home and casually walk through town without looking like we were refugees. We were a happy family strolling through the market streets, not a terrified family who witnessed an act of terror and was trying to escape to the border.
As I forced each painful step, I heard a whimper. I glanced at Rima. She draped her scarf across her face. “What’s wrong? Are you scared?”
Rima wiped her eyes. “We left Jamal. Our wedding is in two months. Will we be back in time?”
I reached for her hand. Our sweat combined, but I didn’t have an answer. My heart ached. I wanted to go home and hang out with my friends and read my books. Home was farther away with each step and became more of a dream than reality.
“Jamal won’t know where I went. I may never see him again.” She sobbed into her scarf.
We didn’t say another word about Jamal.
After trudging through the dry earth for a few hours, we stopped to drink a rationed sip of water. Father draped his arms around our shoulders. “Let’s talk to God. Lord we thank you for letting us escape the violence at home. We thank you for keeping our family together. Now we ask you to provide shelter and food for us and lead us to a new home…in the name of Jesus. Amen.”
We echoed his amen. I wished I could have such strong faith, but my stomach twisted with butterflies, worrying about our future. Something dug into my side as I stood. In my pocket, I pulled out the cross necklace and fastened it around my neck. Maybe it would remind me to trust God.
As the sun began to set the second day, a view of tents rose in the distance. It wasn’t home, but it would be a place to rest. My stomach cringed from hunger and a new thought—what if they hate Christians and won’t let us stay? I had heard stories.
A group of children ran around tagging each other as a line of folks waited for a plate of food. The scent of beans cooking mixed with smoke and dirt filled the area. A man with grey hair approached our family. “Welcome. My name is Mahdi. We have a tent you can share and some food. I’m sure you’re hungry.”
He shook our hands. When he shook mine, he noticed my cross and smiled. “I’m glad to meet you. We are family in Christ.”
I squeezed Rima’s hand. We hugged mama as she whispered, “Our family will fine. God is with us.”
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