When, Where, Who, What

March 12, 2011
I was five the first time I saw something real, the first time I saw the world past my safe home and family.
***
"Let's go!" I exclaimed, jumping up and down. "Hurry up, mom!" We where going into the city for the first time in my life. Our small house in Upstate New York was very isolated; no neighbors, no doctors, no police. It was unsafe. So, at the age of five, I was going to experience life in Manhattan, New York.
"Don't rush me, Vanessa. I'm on my way." My mom put on a thick layer of eyeliner, then grabbed the car keys with a sigh.
We went outside, me running towards the car, mom calling after me to wait, and jumped into our old Mercedes. I remember being angry and frustrated because mom couldn't get the car going, but after a while, we were on our way. It was a long drive, and I slept for most of the ride.
"We're there!" I remember screaming into my mother's ear, "I mean we're here!"
"Don't scream, Vanessa," she told me over and over, and I was irritated by that. I thought she was trying to make my life miserable.
When we reached Manhattan, mother grabbed my arm and held me still. "Be careful, and hold my hand all the time. Don't run away, please. Don't disobey me, Vanessa." I barely listened, I was already on my way to the big skyscrapers that I had never before seen. But mother was right behind me. She held my hand, and together we walked down Broadway. When I got tired, she would carry me.
But when we reached a deserted street, mother took out her map, muttering, "Wrong way... hm.. Lafayette is over there, and.." Before I had the time to blink, someone jumped out of the darkness and hit my mom. I was scared and angry and sad at the same time as I watched my mother fall to the ground, as I watched five men joining the first, hitting my mom in turns. I started crying, and they spotted me sitting against a wall, and they came closer, and closer, getting ready to hit me. I closed my eyes.
A strong hand grabbed me by the shoulders, heaving me upright, screaming at the men. I opened my eyes, and saw the police forcing the men into their cars, an ambulance where my mother was lying, unconscious and bloody. The person who had helped me was an old, tough looking woman, and she carried me to the ambulance. "It'll be alright, everything will be fine," she whispered calmly to me, and I fell asleep in her arms.
***
The next morning, father picked us up at the hospital. Mother had to stay there overnight, and I did, too. When I looked back at this moment years later, I realized that mother had tried to protect me, to make sure I would survive New York. And mother even died to save me, many years after that.
I will never forget what mother did for me.





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