By Jason Geary
Two sleeping pills. What was I thinking? The pill I took at 1am did nothing so I took another a 4 am. Combined they wrestled me to sleep.
Now at 10 am, they still have control. I’m walking down the street on my way to work – at least I think I’m walking. I can’t really tell. I can’t actually feel my feet. I’m a marionette, poorly operated by my medication.
I can’t feel anything. It’s all much slower than usual.
When I consult my brain to make sense of this farce, I find my skull has been abandoned.
My brain is still on the pillow.
By Naomi Byrne-Soper
Suitcase, photographs, exhaustion.
We are not illegal.
Tariq’s florid face against my dehydrated cheek. Amir in tense watchfulness. The queue shuffles forward.
Amir slides ticked boxes over the counter. Customs’ eyes flick from the printed names to our faces: page to flesh, ink to furrow.
And rest on Tariq.
Customs speaks so we nod. He frowns, we quail. He says, ‘Tsjdhfsuj ewif h English?’
‘English?’ says Amir.
Customs cocks his head with expectation we cannot meet. Sighs.
Tariq’s aching body squirms irritable in my arms.
Customs points an accusatory finger at Tariq’s shoulders. He mimes hot, then cold, then crying, then raises a questioning eyebrow.
Amir is confused. I understand but I say nothing.
We are healthy.
My boy is strong.
Customs frowns and calls to Officer. Officer comes, holster bumping coolly against his hip. Amir sees it too.
One danger to the next.
Customs gives Officer our papers. Officer speaks to us and puts his hands on his hips. The tip of his little finger absently brushes the butt of his gun.
Tariq’s sweat makes my skin cold.
Officer opens an unmarked door and points. We don’t move. Officer jovially puts a hand on Amir’s shoulder. Amir stiffens.
Suddenly, scar tissue opens. Memory, adrenaline, terror; then a lurching snap back to this fluorescent, uniformed cattle yard.
No one notices.
Officer guides Amir through the door. My gut screams against this.
Help us. God, somebody help us.
Officer returns. He gestures at Tariq and moves to take him from me.
I hold Tariq tighter. Tariq curls his fingers into my clothing and holds me back.
Officer smiles, patronising, and pulls Tariq from my arms. No!
Tariq cries out and grasps for me. No! No! Officer takes Tariq through the unmarked door. Tariq! Tariq cries, I follow.
We are not illegal.
We are frightened.
© Naomi Byrne-Soper 2010