A Storyby Madelena Grossmann
I had been waiting for them in front of the refuge, a little building with deformed walls and patched roof that crouched at the top of a wooded incline. The air was quiet, windless, heavy with the odor of cedar and damp earth. Now and again I peered through the wrought-iron gate—strangely tall, strangely elaborate for the entrance to the yard of such a squat building. It was still dark. I held a flashlight, ready to guide them as they climbed up the steep steps, half hidden by tight black bushes silvered with early-morning spider’s lace.
Each soft footfall, each crack of a branch, each flash of a feral cat’s eye slipping through the undergrowth startled me.
I paced, agitated. I don’t know when it was that I realized I was afraid of their arrival, the silence they were bringing with them. I went inside, past the welcome sign on the front door, written in Arabic, Farsi, and English: Welcome, women, children: this refuge is your home from home, look after it.