Abandoned

January 27, 2009
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I was holding my Moms gloved hand with my, smaller gloved hand. The snow crunched beneath my tired, booted feet and I dragged an icy finger under my nose. It stung a little but I was too tired to care. It had been a long day of skiing down the icy slopes, slicing the crisp air with our new, pointed feet. We had taken the lift down from the top of the mountain where the lodge was and now we were at the place where the busses would pick us up at the end of every day. The ski lift was my favorite part of the day. Each of the carriers were spheres made of glass and metal. When you were sitting in them, you could see the lush green evergreens below. You could see the other lifts around you, floating like bubbles gracefully through the air. A little mall and a ski shop were nearby, but hardly anyone was around as the Austrian sun was starting to burn a scarlet red, sinking behind the dark clouds. The air smelled like burnt wood, and I inhaled deeply, loving how it reminded me of Christmas.

I don't remember at what point this happened, but I sat down on the steps leading into the mall and let my hot forehead fall into my icy hands. I was seven years old and my every limb was aching from the strain of my first ever day of skiing. I stared over the sunset with my glazed eyes, exhausted from the frigid wind that had flown into them all day long. The mountains looked like flamb'ed cake covered in creamy icing with the sun sinking behind it. I let my eyelids droop a little bit. Caught in the world between sleep and consciousness, I lost track of time. My mother mumbled something to me but I didn't hear her well, it sounded like she was speaking to me underwater.
Suddenly, a bus loudly pulling out of the lot woke me from my-half slumber, and as I looked around me, I saw no one that I knew. I had been with my uncle, aunt, cousins, sisters, and mother, and none of them were to be found. I got up and started to pace around the small platform at the top of the steps that led into the mall. I looked all around, there were two men sitting on a bench and woman trying to soothe her child, who was crying from the cold. No Mom. No sister. No Uncle. I didn't see any of the faces I had been seeing all day. I got up on wobbly legs and walked to the corner of the building. There was nothing except a dumpster and a dog shivering behind it. I walked back to the front. My mind started to deal out possibilities. Naturally, all of them were worst case scenarios. I imagined that they were on the bus that woke me, having not noticed that I was with them. They wouldn't notice until they got to the hotel and then it would be too late, so I would have to sleep in the snow. Or maybe, the got a call saying they all had to rush to the airport because something horrible had happened back in New York, and they boarded the plane, forgetting that I was still at the Ski Mall. Then they would come back to me, but I undoubtedly would have been kidnapped and tortured by then. I was completely alone, dropped in the middle of a country where I could not communicate and had no friends or even acquaintances.

Fat hot tears rolled down my cheeks. I wiped them away with my gloves but the sting from the rough, waterproof material just caused more tears to spring to my eyes. The wind blew and it felt like the tears were freezing onto my face. My nose began to run, and I sat down on the steps, ready to accept the fate of never being found again. After a few minutes of wallowing in my despair, a woman came up to me and asked me something in German. Frightened by anyone unfamiliar, I quickly got up and walked away from her. As I did, I passed a man reading a ski map. It was a big map, and covered his whole face. All I could see were his hands. A voice spoke from behind the map. 'Cosa ce, Cate?' it was the familiar voice of my Uncle Stefano asking me what was wrong. He had been standing there the entire time, reading this impossibly large ski map. I was immediately embarrassed and tried to hide my tears. He lowered the map and looked at me.
'Beh?' he asked, prompting me for an answer.
I asked him where my mom was. All I wanted now was the comfort of her arms, locking the cold out, a bubble of pure safety.
He told me she was in the mall, getting something to eat with my sister and cousin. She must have told me but I was too out of it to understand what she was saying to me. I walked into the mall, dragging me feet a little, exhausted from my short excursion to total isolation. I saw my mom sitting in a little booth sipping a coffee while my sister and cousin were eating pieces of pizza. I crawled into her lap and burrowed into her chest. When I was older, I told her about the feeling I had had that day, and she explained to me how absurd the thought of abandoning me was to her. To this day I have the vivid memory of what it feels like to be (or at least believe you are) absolutely isolated





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