When the phone rang, we thought we were the lucky ones.
Mother was already insisting that we pack even before the call was over. Carl and I both decided it was futile to bring our usual stuff, the ones that accompanied in sun and shadow, the ones that could still bring traces of the fallout with us. So we dug inside our deepest closets for old clothes and unearthed memories, a life interrupted. I reached for the yellowed albums and the pictures that hung on our walls.
"Leave them," she snapped. "We don't have a second to lose."
We were ready in ten minutes, in slightly new hazmat suits, huddled in the dark living room and mentally counting down the minutes. Mother had already locked each door behind us. We heard the rumbling of a large truck, we ran outside. The house was in a sorry state, with aluminum foil on the windows and broken plumbing, but it had been ours and that was all that mattered to me.
Carl left his guitar on the porch. I ran after my brother, fingers reaching towards the truck that would take us to safety. What we didn't know was that it was already inside, racing through our bloodstream, counting down each precious minute of our borrowed breaths.
Sept 23, 2014