They Didn’t Have Enough Money

She sat at the kitchen table with the notice in her hand. She’d promised to read it all week, but she’d “been busy”. The truth was she had been avoiding it. She knew the answer would have to be no, and the conversation that followed would be one of tears and disappointment.

 “Can I go Mum? Can I go?” her teenage daughter was biting her bottom lip, a look of desperation on her face.

The school ski trip. She took another look at the price, it was still as unmanageable as it was a few days ago. She’d put the notice on the top of the refrigerator hoping it would just go away. She couldn’t face the disappointment and probable tears.

They just didn’t have enough money.

::

She sat at the kitchen table with the booklet in her hand. She was exhausted. She’d returned to work and the days were long, her feet ached. She read through the prospectus. How could it be that two schools could provide such a vastly different experience. They’d toured the local school, they had seen the evidence of knives and gangs for themselves. The sporting facilities were broken, much like the spirit of the teachers. Her son joined her at the table and noticed the prospectus in her hands. He opened it up to the page with the rolling green hills with children playing in brightly coloured uniforms. He knew about the technology, the field trips, he had friends that were going.

“Can I go Mum? Can I go?” he was pleading his case for the very last time.

The answer was no. Even with the new job, they just didn’t have enough money.

::

She sat at the kitchen table with her passport in her hand. Her suitcase was by the door, waiting. Her husband and children were asleep on the floor in the room next door. She willed the taxi to arrive while they were still sleeping. She didn’t want to say goodbye. The agency had talked of money that she and her family could only dream of. She would go for two years, to cook and clean for a family she was yet to meet. She’d seen others who had done this before. With the money they sent home each month they were able to buy houses and farms in the village. With the recent monsoons they had been left with nothing, this was there last chance.

“Mum, why do you have to go?” her daughter was awake.

“I’m going to find something special for you.”

The truth was she, she wouldn’t be buying anything just yet. They didn’t have any money.

::

They had walked for 12 kilometers, to get away from the war zone. By the time she found the camp she could no longer feel her feet. Even though she knew her husband was dead she still clung to some hope that it was a mistake. That she and her children would find him here. She looked at the face of her eight year old son, she had to get him out of here, he wasn’t safe. None of them were. The refugee camp, had now become a city. There were 66,000 people living in Yida, in South Sudan. They had all fled from the fighting and constant aerial bombardment. Her son ran over to join a boy who had made a kite from a plastic bag and a piece of string. Her daughter stayed by her side, she had seen things that were now haunting her at night in her dreams.

“When can we go home Mum?”

There was no home, it was gone. She needed to get them out of here.

They didn’t have any money.

::

She sat at her desk with the morning sun streaming in through the window. She drank from her cup of tea while tapping away on her laptop. She glanced over at her iphone, a message about dinner. She thought about her children and their woes over breakfast this morning; a French test, knotty hair that needed a brush, no computer time, and a lost pencil were a few of the complaints.

She thought about her discussions with her husband over the monthly budget. The plans for the future and the worries that they weren’t “putting enough away”.

“I’m worried we’re not going to have enough money.”

She wondered how she slept at night. How they all did. In this land of plenty.

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