My back was still hot as I slouched against the remaining wall of a first storey bedroom. Dust covered my coat. I’d had to sit down. The adrenaline now leaked out of my veins and I wheezed in chalky air. On my right, wedged between me and a young woman was a girl in a red puffer jacket, and to my left was an older woman – perhaps in her sixties or seventies – whose black hijab had been pulled out of place by falling debris. She now pulled it back into place. She looked to the young man who stood in front of us. He was translating the old woman’s words into English for me.
And I tried to speak to him in English so that he could tell her what I wanted to say, but the panic in my mind got in the way.
‘J’étais comme elle, au passé,’ I said. ‘Long time. In past. My home bombé.’
I made the signs with my hands of things falling from tbe sky. I noticee that the girl next to me wasn’t talking. She was looking straight ahead, flicking a loose red thread with her fingers over and over.
‘Is she OK?’ I looked to the girl. ‘Are you OK?’
The only response from the girl was to flick the thread faster.
The young man shrugged. With one hand in his pocket, he gestured with the other. He asked the old lady and translated her answer. ‘She say girl is not… She not live here. She not see her before.’
‘Vâchement?’ I frowned, and I turned again to the girl. Somehow, she had avoided all the dust. Her trendy canvas shoes seemed too big for someone of her age and height. The design on them was black and green. I leaned forward and pressed the end of her left shoe with my finger. The top of the shoe pressed down to the sole. Looking up at the young man, I said to him, ‘Can you ask her who shoes? They not girl shoes.’
The young man stared at me. Like me, he knew that something was amiss. A young girl who no one knows who is wearing someone else’s shoes.
This is the first part of a story based on q dream I had this week. The second part will be online tomorrow.