A dark wave broke against the boat, tilting the starboard lip precariously close to the waterline; not for the first time, nor for the hundredth time. The boat rocked on, cradling our nausea, nourishing our fear.
We were no seamen, not a single one of us. And yet, here we were; fourteen souls packed tight on a piece of wood barely qualifying for the term ‘boat’.
Adjoa screamed; a sound that cut through the thunder and made my insides hurt.
‘Shut that pie-hole, woman!’
Eniola sent a poisonous look in Paki’s direction and shifted slightly, barring Adjoa from Paki. He had been raising one hell after another since we left Libya, but Eniola had so far managed to contain him.
The thing was that Adjoa was early. She had said she had another week to go, but babies do tend to arrive at the most inopportune moments.
Adjoa squeezed her eyes, ground her teeth and drew in a deep breath, readying for another scream, but Eniola’s hand shot out and cupped Adjoa’s mouth. The scream was muffled, and from the pained expression on Eniola’s face, Adjoa must have bit into Eniola’s hand in a desperate attempt for relief.
Another wave slammed against the boat, soaking us more thoroughly than the fish swimming beneath.
We turned as one and peered at the horizon.
Sure enough, a search light was cutting through the darkness far off.
Europe! We made it!
We screamed, waved our hands, cried till our throats were hoarse.
The fishermen’s boat turned, started approaching us slowly, miraculously, growing larger, coming closer, impossibly slow.
‘Go back, fucking blacks!’
I caught Eniola’s eyes, but there was no comfort there; just despair.
A shotgun was pointing at Paki’s chest. ‘Please…’ he said. ‘Baby…’
‘No…please…’ Paki insisted. Of the fourteen of us, he was the only one who still seemed capable of speech.
Adjoa screamed. The fisherman lost it and we lost our rainbow.
Hello all. This week the Trifecta challenge is RAINBOW: [from the impossibility of reaching the rainbow, at whose foot a pot of gold is said to be buried] : an illusory goal or hope
I offer this for the hundreds who lose their lives in search of a better one while crossing the Mediterranean every year.
*although I should add a note here; while many do die tragically of rough seas – the Med is a crazy bitch in the Winter – I have never yet heard of fishermen shooting on refugees/ irregular immigrants…you know, just to be clear…