The Lost Campanion
Thud! The box fell on the ground with a loud sound. The man sighed loudly and looked around the room. There were layers of dust as ancient as time itself and piles of boxes stacked neatly around the room. He sighed again and went over to the small attic window.
It was a windy and sunny day outside. The entire neighbourhood was out enjoying the warm Canadian weather. A group of adults having a barbecue. Small children running around the neatly mowed lawn and a couple of young boys playing soccer. While the entire world is outside, I am stuck inside cleaning the attic, he thought grimly. He glanced at the window one last time before he walked back to the plastic chair he had been sitting on for the last couple of hours.
“Let's do this. Only a couple of more boxes to go,” he said to himself while opening another worn out, dusty box.
"Old shoes, old socks. Wait. Is that a cassette? Garbage," he said aloud and threw the cassette in the garbage bag with the rest of the unwanted things. He went back to clearing the box with occasional muttering. As he was clearing the stuff out, he found an old teddy bear. He picked it up and stared at it with a look of shock. To any other person, it would appear like a customary teddy bear. But to him, the bear was a reminder. As he stared at the teddy bear, he experienced a sudden whirlpool of emotions and memories. Memories that he did not want to think or talk about. He remembered each memory like it happened yesterday. He set the teddy bear down on the wooden floor and went over to open the window to let some air inside.
Cool air filled the room, calming the frantic man down a bit. He looked outside the window again. He stared at the boys who were playing soccer, and he remembered:
It was an unbelieving hot day outside, but that was normal for a place like Syria. There were rows of brick houses with unpaved roads. A group of young boys were playing a game of soccer with a ball on the road.
“Sami! Come and play with us,” shouted one of the taller boys.
“No, I want to play with my bear. Mother just sewed it for me,” Sami replied while proudly holding out his bear.
“You can play with the bear later. Father found an actual soccer ball on his way back home yesterday, and it is good,” the tall boy said, pointing at the ball under his shoe.
I thought about it. We usually played with deflated balls that our fathers found during work, but it was impossible to pass on the opportunity to play with a real soccer ball. Just as I was about to reply, I heard peculiar noises. All the other boys looked at me strangely and started running. People came out of their houses. Everybody started talking at the same time. In a small city with no cars, it was strange to hear loud noises coming from anywhere.
We heard the noises again, but this time they were loud, and they were coming from the sky. Everybody looked up and gasped. I saw airplanes and recalled seeing a picture of them in my school textbook. They were a wonder to see. Maybe they were here to protect us from the protests that were going on.
Then everything happened so fast. Things fell out of the sky, and there was strange gas everywhere. It was thick and misty. I could not see anything, so I hugged my bear harder to my chest. I was feeling dizzy, and it became harder to breathe. It felt like someone was taking the air out of my lungs. I felt myself collapsing to the ground, and then everything went dark.
The man shook his head, trying to forget that memory. He backed away from the window and turned around. He found himself staring at the vacant charcoal eyes of the bear. It triggered another memory:
Blink! I could not open my eyes. The light was too bright. It felt like staring at the sun. I tried again. This time all I could see was endless white. I blinked a couple of times, letting my eyes adjust to the unusual surroundings. When I opened them again, I saw a white room with a door. The room smelled like strong medicine that almost made me puke. I looked down at myself and saw that I was on a bed with white clothes on. I had a needle in my arm. I turned my head sideways and found my reflection in the black abyss of my teddys eyes. I lifted him and hugged him close. It felt safe. Where was I? Where were my parents? What happened in Idlib? My thought process was interrupted by the door opening, followed by a man walking inside the room.
“You are at a hospital. You are safe. I am a doctor, and I am here to help you. How are you feeling?” he said.
“I am fine,” I replied hesitantly, hugging the bear even tighter.
“That’s good. Your parents are waiting outside the door, and they will come in shortly,” he said.
I nodded, and he left. I heard my mother's worried voice and the doctor explaining something to them that I could not understand. I looked around once again and spotted some chairs and a small table. I closed my eyes. I remembered everything. The things falling, the mist, the choking and then the fainting. I did not notice the tears falling or heard myself crying out loud, but I did while hugging the bear close to my heart.
I did not remember sitting down on the chair. It is funny how I remember every tiny detail of the chemical bombing. Chemical bombing. I did not even know what that meant until my mother came inside my hospital room and told me that Idlib was bombarded with chemical bombs. So many people died that day. Young children became orphans. Parents lost their sons or daughters. There was destruction everywhere. The survivors were taken to Turkey for medical assistance and shelter as Turkey was one of our allies.
My family stayed in a small town in Turkey, and we moved to Canada as refugees. After that, I buried everything that happened to me and my family into the depths of my mind, hoping I would never revisit them. But here, I am dwelling on my past with my old companion staring blankly at me.
“DADDY! Mommy said that the lunch is ready,” shouted my daughter, shaking me out of my thoughts.
“Sarah, tell her I am coming,” I said as I was getting up. I glanced at the bear one last time and walked out of the room with one thing in my mind: It was over.
© 2020 Y J Shore