Simplifications

Lisa Fotio

She stood on the dock with the roar of the wind in her ears, her clothes flapping about.

From this vantage point, the horde on shore had morphed from individual bits of flotsam into an ever increasing pulsating organism of movement and sound.

A group of young men knocked into her, as they pushed past, on their way to be swallowed up by the monster.

Although the sun was high, she couldn’t stop shivering. In all honesty, Ada wasn’t feeling well at all, quite depleted actually, both physically and mentally. Not having yet developed her sea legs, on this, her first ever sea voyage, she had been sick for most of the journey.

Now, tired and drained she was feeling less determined and hopeful than at the outset. In fact, hanging over the side and vomiting into the sea had triggered a feeling of discouragement within her. The greater the distance between herself and her ‘from’, the less desirable did her ‘to’ appear.

She sat down on the suitcase by her feet, white knuckling her handbag, as she worked on composing herself. Not an easy task, what with the overpowering heat and stench of humanity all around.

Glancing down she was overcome by a rush of shame for her vomit stained skirt and rumpled clothes. A quick look in her pocket mirror reflected back a pale, blotchy swollen face with red eyes and a tangled mess for hair. Oh! what others must be thinking, how they must be judging her as she sat there looking like a heap of rags.

How revelatory the world becomes when viewed through eyes that are not our own. How deceptively simple the interpretations, translations and conclusions in both cases.

Back home, she had been a teacher, a daughter, a sister. She had been, that is, until circumstances took these descriptors away from her forever.

It had all happened so fast that disbelief still clung to her. And when her remaining relatives had taken her under their wing and decided that she would be safer if she left, she had agreed. What else could she do? What choice did she have? She owed it to them, being younger and stronger, to set their plan in motion.

Once settled, she would send word and, if still possible, they would join her; salvaging what they could. Then, they would try to rebuild a semblance of a life together.

At this moment though, she was just another problem, an intrusion, a possible threat. She along with the myriad of displaced that continued to hit these shores; some alive, others dead, mostly men but lately more and more women and children too; a cross section of the good the bad and the indifferent that make up all societies, independent of race or creed.

Ada’s thoughts were interrupted by an approaching figure. Once focused on the female officer striding towards her, she got to her feet straight backed, readjusted her expression to one of pleasant professionalism and held out her hand.

Then, Ada awaited her fate on that concrete dock under a dazzling Mediterranean sun.

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