Blue is my favourite colour

Blue is my favourite colour

Blue is my favourite colour

My eyes fill with tears whenever I think of home, so I try my hardest to push the memories away. But I can’t control my dreams. Each night when I fall asleep, I remember another half-forgotten aspect of the way things were Before.

Usually they are simple things.

Eating my Savta’s tasty chicken soup and being warned not to slurp.

Patting my pet dog’s silky hair.

Playing dolls with my sister.

The way the skirt of my favourite dress puffed out when I spun around. I don’t get to wear dresses anymore. I don’t get to play dolls anymore.

And the worst thing. The absolute worst thing. I don’t have a sister anymore.

The sun rises and my dreams evaporate with the morning dew. It’s time for roll call. We line up in neat rows. I try my hardest to stand perfectly still. No scratching. No twitching. I feel something on my foot, and I dare a glance downwards. A cockroach has decided to have a rest on my toes.

I attempt to wriggle it off without anyone noticing, but instead it starts climbing slowly up the inside of my ankle.

I know what happens if you move during roll call.

But I also hate cockroaches.

It starts to move up inside my striped pants leg and I concentrate hard on the shape of my mother’s back lined up in front of me. I trace her sharp angles with my eyes, desperate to ignore the scratchy legs as the unwelcome visitor reaches the back of my knee. My mother’s cheeks, once plump and rosy are now hollowed like a skeleton.

I decide it is better focusing on the cockroach.

I don’t know why they count us all the time. It’s not like we have the strength to escape. The soldiers make sure of that.

As the cockroach tickles my inner thigh, our line begins to move and I quickly swat at the offending creature with my hand. It falls out of my pants to the ground and scurries away. Much better.

We are instructed to enter a grey building I have never been in before. It is dark and my neck prickles with fear.

‘Mama, where are we going?’ I whisper.

A soldier overhears me, and to my surprise answers me.

‘It’s time for a shower, go inside.’

A shower sounds delightful, and I try to remember when I last had one. Before we arrived at the camp, certainly. How long had I been here?

I don’t want to remove my clothes. They might not be nice like my old dress, but blue is my favourite colour. Mum looks sad so I decide not to argue.

The clothes drop to the floor and the golden star winks up at me. I notice how dirty I am and a new sense of hope swells through me.

‘Mama, are we having a wash because we are going home?’

Mama smiles weakly. ‘I’m not sure, Amira. I hope so.’