“It will be a fresh start,” the teacher had told her that morning, as some aid workers gave her a donated stationary pack and ushered her to her seat.
The classroom she sat in had bare concrete sides entrapped under a vivid layer of vocabulary flashcards and pictures of children. Like her, they all had one thing in common: survivors of a harrowing escape from Damascus to safety – Amman.
She glanced at her possessions on the table. Her new pencil lay at an angle inside her pencil case, ready to fire at any instant…. just like the missile that had taken Baba with it. Yet, the missile seemed to extricate itself from the launchpad in her mind - no longer a weapon, but a new tool to carve letters, and a better future.
Her eyes drifted to the pencil case.
With the zipper open, she saw figures inside the navy blue leather: her mother wrapping her bone-thin arms around her as the tempestuous sky spat bolts of lightning and battered their haggard faces with rain; herself dragging Mama through the water toward that distant green patch of hope as their raft finally capsized, her tears insignificant compared to the vastness of the ocean that had claimed so many of her friends…
The boat - the epitome of Syrian refugee suffering burned away, revealed itself as the one treasure she retained from her past life. Afterall, it was the vehicle that brought her here, to her new beginning.
In the desk in front of her, lay pieces of chalk that had been snapped into half, obliterated on one side at an awkward angle, like the rubble that remained of her house after the air strikes. As the teacher began to write on the board, the white chalky powder swirled in the air. She was all too familiar with the misty haze of dust from collapsed buildings. The image still burned in her mind, but for now, the rubble-shaped chalk pieces would be used to create, not destroy.
She picked up her pencil, glanced intently at the black board, and began to write…
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