Near 500 words: The refugee

The photographer spotted the woman, waiting for a bus. When asked who she was, Iriana said to the photographer, “I am a refugee, a woman with no country. All I own is the clothes on my back and what is in my suitcase.” Her clothes were worn but she wore them with dignity.

The photographer asked, “Would you like a cup of tea?”

“A cup of tea would be nice.”

Iriana and the photographer went to a little café cradled along the street with tables on the outside. It was decorated with colorful umbrellas to protect from the sun.

They ordered their tea.

“How long has it been since you started being on the run?”

“It’s been years. I keep hoping things will change.”

The waiter brought their tea with some pastry. The café was famous for its pastry.

Iriana took a sip of her tea and a bite of the pastry. She enjoyed the taste. “Ummm, this is good. It never changes. Every time I find a place, there is a revolution. The new guy is just as bad as the last.” Then she began to cry. “My father and brother are in prison. They opposed the last man in charge. Now the new man in charge keeps them there.” Then she spat on the sidewalk and said something in her native tongue. She looked up from the sidewalk. There was anger in her eyes.

“Is there nothing to be done?”

She raised her shoulders and stiffened herself with dignity. She was not about to let anyone else see her weak. She had to be strong for her father and her brother.

“Nothing. They are not important names for the world to care about. For all I know, they could be dead. They are probably dead.”

“Well, maybe I can help.”

“How can you help?”

“I could make their name known. That might pressure the government to release them.”

“Please don’t. That would only give them a reason to execute them.”

The photographer understood. He had heard the same story over and over again. Nothing would help the people he called The Doomed.

“I have a proposition,” he offered.

Iriana was taken aback. “I will not sleep with you. Not for anything. I am a good Christian.”

“No, no, no. Not that kind of proposition. I would like to offer you a job. I would like to ask you to be my assistant.”

Iriana was stunned that someone was offering her such kindness. And a stranger too.

“Then you would no longer be a refugee. Your home would be wherever we went. And perhaps eventually we can work it where your father and your brother are released.”

“You would do that for me?”

“Why wouldn’t I do it for you?”

“I’ve been looking for someone I could depend on for a long time. I think you are the one I’ve been searching for.”

She rose out of the chair and came over and gave the large man a hug. She was crying.

“Please don’t cry.”

“But you’re my angel.”

“One thing is for sure. I am no angel.’

They finished their tea and pastry.

“Let’s go,” he said. “We have work to do.”

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