Monday, 23 November 2015

Seagulls circle the boat

I can barely breathe, I'm packed in so tight in the centre of the deck. The people around me are much taller than me. I can't see anything, only the funnels of the ship, high in the air, the blue sky, and the seagulls wheeling overhead. I can't see the shoreline we're leaving behind. I can see my sister and my brother. We're packed chest to chest. I'll never see the twins again. They're buried back there, somewhere in Uzbekistan. These adults packed tightly around me are not my adults, not my parents. My parents are back there somewhere on that disappearing shoreline which I can't see, getting further and further away; lost, buried, who knows where. The ship's hooter sounds, one long mournful note. One note, for all that is lost, all that is gone for ever. I can barely move, barely breathe, we're packed in si tight. "Heniek" I say "I need the toilet". "You'll just have to go where you are" he says, and I realise the deck beneath me is already wet and slick with urine. We'll stand like this for hours, days, as we cross the Caspian Sea. Leaving behind all that has been. Leaving behind the child, who's innocence was lost two years ago, when they piled us onto cattle trains, and took us to Siberia. Now leaving the Soviet Union for ever, as the boat sounds a second mournful note, and the seagulls circle the boat, and steam rises into the air from the rusting funnels.

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