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refugees

Separated

Whether it be a wall, a fence or a natural boundary. Is it ever good to be divided? Maybe one side feels better than the other, but even the builder is restricted.

Isolation and separation will narrow your mind and constrict your heart. Suspicion is the fuel for hate. Education is the fuel for understanding. 

Open your mind and open your heart. We don’t need spikes on a fence, we need empathy in our souls. 

Daily Prompt: Spike

© Neil Hayes and neilsworldofenglish

Border 2, the move: A short story

At first I was worried that we would lose everything, but we were allowed to collect our few belongings before the destruction began. It was terrible to behold. What now, where? There had been talk of relocation, but there is such uncertainty. I just hope that the next move brings us closer to some permanence.

I find myself staring at the destruction, feeling numb, I can hardly breath. Nadia has her arms around Yaya and Abdo, trying to comfort them. “Now, we will go somewhere better”, she says. Please, I hope so.

The dream was always to reach Britain, we speak English and have some relations there already. At least there would be some friendly faces to help. But here, it seems like everything will be so much harder. But, believe me, even the Jungle was better than where we came from. If learning another language is the largest problem we have, the future will be bright.

The police are coming now, directing us where to go. Single men here, families there, children here. It is unbelievable how many children there are, with no families. Teenagers with no one to guide them, heartbreaking. Our processing seems relatively simple, the decision has already been made where to send us. Another foreign name with no meaning for me.

We are put on the bus, with many other families. Time to leave. Part of me is sad, how strange to think I would ever feel sad to leave this place. I guess the channel crossing was always the end of the journey, and we never made it. And now we are off, to something better. I must believe.

It is easy to forget what a beautiful country this is, once you move away from the port and the city. We have been told we are going to a large village. This seems surprising, how will we find work there? And the people, what will they think?

Now we are moving, the children are more animated. There is excitement in Yaya’s eyes, it is infectious, I am starting to feel it too. The colours of autumn glow all around us as we speed towards our destination. There is nervousness amongst my fellow passengers, but so much hope.

After a couple of hours we are told we have arrived. What a pretty place, typical old-world French charm. I am amazed, I would not have believed that we would be brought to somewhere like this. It is obviously not the richest of places but it has a warm, welcoming feeling. Nadia looks too shocked for words, but she is smiling, nervously.

Le Grand Hôtel, sounds impressive and looks fine. It maybe doesn’t quite live up to the name, but it looks clean, warm and dry. All the things we have been missing so much. The lady, maybe the owner, is very welcoming and takes us to our rooms. Yes rooms, two rooms with a bathroom.

As soon as we are alone, Nadia begins to weep. Gently, at first, but when the dam bursts she cannot stop. You see, this seems like a palace to us. Two rooms, four beds and the children are already jumping and bounding from one to the other. Unbridled joy, it has been such a long time. The feeling of my wife’s tears, running down my face and soaking into my collar. The feeling of love, of hope.

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© Neil Hayes and neilhayeswriter

Border: A short story

How could it have come to this?

They are so beautiful when they sleep. This is the only time when they look innocent and peaceful now. How could anyone feel at peace in this place? The sun will be rising soon and another day will begin. Another day to hope and survive. Hope for what? That the world will begin to care. It seems like a never ending fight, with very little to win. When the final bell rings, will we be victorious? Or knocked out.

I feel torn inside, when I look at them, and the life they have. We ran from one war, one where death was a real possibility. But now we are in a different type of war. Most people in this place are good, just searching for a better life. But some need to be watched, and these are the ones that scare me. These are the ones that scare the world.

I feel like such a failure. Did I do the right thing? It cost all the money we had to get us here, money we had worked hard for. Now we have nothing and no one wants us. Yes, we are here illegally. But what choice did I have? It is hard to apply for visas or official help when the soldiers are just around the corner. He said it would be OK, he would get us to Britain, for a price. And Britain is a modern, caring country. Right? But we didn’t make it that far and now even Europeans are being looked at with distrust. What hope for people with our skin colour?

The sky is beginning to glow through the skin of our tent, another day. Yaya is stirring; seven years old but with the eyes of one who has seen too much already. She should be carefree and playing with friends, instead she protects her brother like a wolf. I am so proud of her, but wish it was for different reasons. Now, I must be strong and not show how I really feel. They cannot see the hopelessness inside me.

“Good morning my love. Did you sleep well?”, I ask. “Like I was on a bed of feathers”, she says with a smile. But she is not on a feather bed, far from it. But she is always so optimistic, she is strong for us.

Now Abdo begins to grumble, he is more of a complainer. Maybe that is the difference between men and women. Women always seem to get on with things, especially in our culture. But he is so young, all he feels is discomfort and doesn’t have to pretend for the sake of anyone else. He is the youngest, after all. Four years old and already transplanted and transferred so many times. Yaya puts a protective arm around him and welcomes him to another day, with a smile.

These are the loves of my life. Yaya, Abdo and Nadia, my wife, their mother. A beautiful, intelligent woman who also deserves so much better. The children crawl all over her, and she awakes with a smile and a laugh. Even here, there are times to make you smile and feel grateful. But soon we will step outside and join the queues for breakfast. There are good people here, who are trying to help us. But there is only so much they can do. Hopefully there will be some fresh supplies today.

A light rain is falling, this is the worst. The dampness seems to penetrate everything here. There is no escape. I step outside, and make my way to the aid station. Everyone looks unhappy and nervous, something is wrong. There have been rumours that there will be some sort of operation, to clear some of this wasteland. And here they come. I can hear the roar of the vehicles as they approach.

In a panic, I rush back to my family. As I get there, the police are approaching. They herd us into an area, away from the tents and shacks that are our homes. We have so little, how can they take it away?

Here come the machines, on tracks, carrying huge scoops in front. Ready to pile our lives together with all the others who live here. Live, it feels ridiculous to even use that word. We don’t live, we exist. I feel sick, useless. I am supposed to protect my family, that is every father’s job; no? But what can I do, other than wipe away the tears from my wife’s face. And kiss her and pray.

They call this place The Jungle. A jungle may be dangerous, but it is beautiful and diverse. This is no jungle, this is hell.

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© Neil Hayes and neilhayeswriter

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