Are We There Yet?

March 6, 2013
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“Are we there yet?” my young sister asks me in a whisper. I sigh. “Not yet, little one.” We have been traveling for two days now, trying to get to the border where they say it is safe. Throughout the journey my sister, Hannah, has never ceased to ask if we have arrived. I do not blame her, it is a tiring journey. I glance at her face now, sleepy and pale in the faded light, and I pray, for her sake at least that we arrive soon. We had not stopped since we left our home, a small town near Ghazzah, except for a drink of water and we are both weary. “I’m hungry, Adam.” My sister whines. “I know, I know, we will be there soon,” I reassure her, but she continues to whimper. The sky overhead has now blackened, the moon covered by dark clouds. With barely any source of light, it is difficult to navigate but I manage. Hannah groans and I pat her back, hushing her but she snivels at my touch and I leave her. Instead, I squint at the road ahead. I have traveled on here before but it seems to twist and turn in ways I can’t remember. Rocks and dirt are scattered everywhere and sometimes I cannot make out what is the road and what is the desert. An animal screeches from somewhere far away, no doubt calling to its members. I imagine it all alone in the wilderness, no one for miles around to help it. I could relate. But I had Hannah with me, and even though she could not help while I carried on, she gave me strength in my mind and was what forced me to focus on what lay ahead. Thinking of this, the words of my father come back to me “Take her, and do not give up. Protect her with your life.” I promised him that I would and I will stay true to my words even if it breaks us both.
Daybreak comes slowly, and we still had not covered much ground. The sun burns down on us, scorching hot and sizzling the air into a hazy blur. “I... I am thirsty.” Hannah gasps and I reach out to give her a drink from the small flask I carry. “More!” she wails after taking a long drink, but I shake my head. “Not too much, we have to wait.” She begins to cry and I hold back my words, giving her a few sips. I gulp some down myself, and place it back in my pocket. It is a habit of mine to pat it every few moments, making sure it is still there. My mother had given it to me a couple of years before and it is dear to me. Made of tough leather, it bares the flag of our country on its side and I always carried it with me proudly. Now, it was to provide the only life support we had at the moment and I wasn’t going to take any chances. Especially in this condition, when even the weather seemed to be against us. The sky was cloudless, and the wind picked up sand throwing it straight at our faces. “Are we there now?” Hannah asks again. I’ve lost count at how many times she has inquired that, but I answer her still. “Not yet, but we will be” I say, trying to keep my voice cheerful but it is with difficulty. This journey is getting tiring and with Hannah constantly at me, it makes it even more so, but the need to arrive at our destination drives me forward. My mother once told me, good things will come to those who wait. I never understood her words. How could I just wait, and something will happen? And who has the time to just wait? A crow caws from above and I’m distracted from my thoughts. I focus my sight at the road ahead reminding myself over and over that I have to keep going. Hannah continues to groan and I continue to stay quiet, only talking to assure her that we are almost there though I am not even sure. My eyes are tired and my stomach growls with hunger. We ate the last of the two biscuits I carried but it is not enough to fill our stomachs and the thought of food bears on me greatly. I think of the last large meal we had, lamb with rice and vegetables fresh from our garden. My mouth waters as I begin to hallucinate, tasting the juicy meat in my mouth. All of a sudden Hannah starts wailing, and I am forced back to reality. “Can’t we stop, I want to stop, we never stop! Stop, stop, stop!” she goes on yelling. “Stop!” Annoyance begins to burst through me but I remind myself of our current status at hand and calm down. “We can not stop, not yet.” I say.
“But we have to,” she is sobbing now. “We have to!” I just shake my head and turn my head towards the heavens, praying we make it soon. Her hand strikes at me, but I block it instinctively, which causes her to wail louder. “I’m sorry!” I say, “I’m sorry, calm down, please, just calm down!” I am frantic with my words, and exasperatedly try to quiet her. As evening finally comes I welcome the colder air of the night and I am tempted to pull over and rest, my head spinning with dizziness, my feet stumbling over nothing. Another protest from Hannah and finally I give in. We stop near a small hill of rocks resting behind its shadow, and again I am subdued with the urge to sleep, but I shake my head clear. No sleeping, just resting. I will just sit here for a while and keep a look out, I tell myself, but against these commands my eyelids droop and I fall into a restless slumber.

Morning comes as quickly as night began, and we proceed with our journey, still following the almost-hidden path. Before we go, I give Hannah a sip of water again and then I double my speed. I am determined that we reach the border today, if possible. My eyes are heavier than ever. I cannot feel my legs, and I lick my lips continuously but my mouth is dry. A ringing noise buzzes in my ears and I scream in pain as it pounds at my head leaving a numbing sensation I have never felt before. The throbbing travels through my body leaving my arms limp and my fingers locked. Tears form in my eyes, blurring my vision and all hope I had drops to my stomach. I carry a weight too heavy and a burden even more so. Looking down at Hannah, a sob escapes me. She is no longer whining, or making noise, instead a sickly expression holds her face and a faint whisper escapes her lips. I have failed her. I have failed her and broke the promise I made to my father. I am about to fall, and give up. Useless it seems to go on, I tell myself. That’s when I hear a noise. Like the sound of Uncle Taif’s old jeep we used to sometimes ride to Ghazzah. Slowly, I lift up my head and my heart beats fast. It is a jeep. Four jeeps, and they are parked near a building with gates and people. The border. I gasp and shout out quickening my pace half dragging, half running towards the scene. Men in uniforms look up and come hurrying towards us. Halfway there, I drop to my knees and let them come to me, too tired to go on. Inspecting Hannah, I sigh with relief when I see her eyelids flutter open. For some reason I think back to my mothers words, and finally, I understand what she meant. I know now that she did not mean that I just sit there and wait, but we have to go on with what we have, we have to work hard to achieve our goals, to reach our destinations. We cannot just expect things to happen in an instant, but we wait with patience and no complaint and when the path ends, we will see what lies ahead and we will be able to walk with ease. I say a quick prayer for my mother and her wise words, which, without me knowing it, had guided me through the worst of times. Sobbing, I unwrap the cloth that covered my young sister, and for the first time since I promised my father, I loosen my weak grip around her small frail body. With the strength fading from my arms, I lay her down. Tears finally flow down, splashing on my sister’s face. She coughs looking up at me with great effort saying something in a hoarse whisper that only I can hear. I smile at her words, a real smile this time. “Yes” I reply, half weeping, half laughing, “We are here, we made it.” And as the men in uniforms come closer, their boots stomping dust, and voices calling to get help, I welcome the blackness that creeps in the corners of my sight, and faint.

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This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

MeggieMills said...
Apr. 25, 2013 at 2:03 pm
Oh my God that brought tears to my eyes! I love it! The Jordanians will somehow take care of those two! The story is just beautiful!
Dreamer_ replied...
Apr. 25, 2013 at 6:38 pm
Thank you so much!  
MegaSock said...
Mar. 11, 2013 at 7:20 pm
This is a very adorable story! Patience- he was very impatient, a bit too much. I know on car trips, two minute stops are everything :) Perseverence- He didn't give up, that's certainly a thing to admire! Wonderful job on conducting the story! There was just enough background info to make it interesting, but not too boring! I love the reassuring ending as well. Nicely done!
Dreamer_ replied...
Mar. 11, 2013 at 8:13 pm
Thank you v. much! Oh but they weren't in a car, they were walking! And he was holding her :) but I'm glad you thought that, that's what I was aiming for. He was patient in a way, he didn't give up, he kept going. If he didn't have patience, he would've stopped and not have gone on, and would've gotten angry at the sister.. But thank you for your feedback!
Halima said...
Mar. 11, 2013 at 1:49 pm
Well written and well expressed.Loved it.
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