“Oh my God….. oh my God!” Hysterically, Flora ran into the church pushing everybody in her way as she was looking for her daughter, Christina, amid the debris she was surrounded by.
Everything happened in a blink of an eye. Just few seconds ago, Flora dropped Christina off in front of the church entrance. She wanted her to save them two seats in the front rows until she found a parking spot on the congested street, and then follow her inside. She had no clue she was going to regret this idea for the rest of her life.
“Jesus Christ help me…… why Lord…… why?…. Christina…………… Christina!” Flora gasped heavily as she was lifting the smashed pews up.
She looked flabbergasted by the blood puddles, scattered body parts all over the place, and the wreckage that cloaked the church in less than a second.
“Please… please, help me….. I can’t find my daughter…… someone helps me please,” Flora shrieked.
“Please, look for her with me,” Flora opened her purse and got a picture of Christina to show it to the cop as she begged him for help.
The church, which did not look like it anymore, was covered by a heavy cloud of dust. Piles of torn bodies, broken furniture, scattered glass, and fragmented chandeliers were mixed together. One couldn’t step a foot in there. It was way worse than any war zone.
“All the dead and injured are split among Alnokrashy and Alhaya hospitals, Ma’am. You need to head there and ask,” one of the EMTs shouted as he was carrying a dead body.
Flora’s heart dropped to her feet when she heard the word dead but was still hopeful as injured was included in the same sentence. She pushed everybody out of her way as she exited the ruined church. She couldn’t even drive her car as the roads were jammed because of the horrific attack. Luckily, the hospital was only 2 miles away from where she was. She couldn’t afford walking. She couldn’t wait to check up on her daughter either. She collected the leftovers of her energy and the remnants of her strength and ran like an aged horse in his last race.
“Christina – Christina Saleeb Victor,” Flora said as the hospital receptionist was looking into the victims’ list.
“No, Ma’am. She is not here.”
“Please look again, please!” Begging the employee in a throaty voice, Flora’s eyes filled with tears.
“I am so sorry Ma’am, but she is not on the list. I am pretty sure you may be able to find her in Alhaya hospital.” The receptionist grimaced with sorrow and left her in awe.
Flora stood still in her place trying to muster some more energy mixed with some strength and walked towards the hospital’s exit.
“Taxi,” she screamed as she waved with her hand to stop a cab.
“Where to, Madame?” The taxi driver pulled over.
“Alhaya hospital,” she muttered.
She took a seat next to him and with her hands covering her face she kept rocking back and forth, sobbing, and praying.
“Please God… I beg you… my daughter Lord. She is the only one I got in this life… please, Lord, please….. don’t take her from me. Not yet Lord…. not yet! She is still so young. Take me instead……. Christina!”
As her prayer flowed, the wailing increased. The cab driver figured it out right way. He could tell his passenger was tormented with pain and agony, she must have lost a dear one in this terrorist attack.
“Are you related to any of the victims?”
Flora uncovered her face, raised her head, and with distress mixed with anxiety she nodded her head. She raised Christina’s picture which was drenched in sweat and blood, at this point, and showed it to him.
“My only child.”
As the tears were like the Nile river running down her face, she opened her purse and as she pulled her wallet, the driver clenched her hands refusing to take his fare. She looked at him with eyes filled with unspoken gratitude. She opened the door and rushed to the hospital.
As Flora approached the main entrance, she was struck by the dreadful scene. Screams… cries… wailing… people fainting left and right… ambulances lined up… loud sirens… blood… covered bodies in white linens stained in red… injured with amputated body parts… rushing EMTs with wheeled stretchers.
Headed to the lobby, her eyes scanned the entire place looking for anyone with a clipboard in their hands. She looked out of the corner of her eye and spotted a mid-aged woman with a white clipboard and a pen in her hand. Without hesitation, she ran to her asking for Christina. The woman looked at the list of the injured, flipped around four pages, but couldn’t find Christina’s name there. She looked at Flora and saw the panic cloaking her face. She decided to look at the dead list without telling her what list she was looking at.
“Did you find her?” Flora’s fists were clenched.
“I am still looking, Ma’am. Don’t worry. She must be here somewhere.” The woman averted looking at Flora the entire time.
She pulled the dead list and hid the cover’s label with her hands. Fortunately, she wasn’t able to locate her there either. The woman put her hand on her chest and sighed in relief.
“Did you find her?”
As the woman was about to answer, they both heard noise coming from the main entrance.
“Get out of the way everybody. Prepare the operating room immediately. We have a critical injured here.” One of the EMTs shouted as they were pushing the wheeled stretcher towards the operating room.
Flora’s heart quivered. Immediately, she left the woman and followed them. Her motherly intuition believed that this was Christina. Even though she didn’t even look at her face, she knew in her heart that this girl who was rushed into the operating room was her very own daughter.
Hurrying to catch them, the door was slammed in her face. She glimpsed the body from the glass door. She opened her eyes wide, wiped her tears with her long sleeves trying to improve her misty vision. She gazed and gazed until she spotted the gold bracelet with the silver colored cross, she just bought for Christina the day before, dangling from her wrest. When the nurse took it off to prepare Christina for the surgery, Flora was on the floor sobbing. She was dealing with conflicted feelings; her daughter was alive, but she was in a critical condition. The woman with the clipboard rushed after her, got her up, hugged her tightly, and brought a chair for her to sit. Flora leaned her head against the cold ceramic wall, shut her eyes, and began to recall what had happened the day before.
To be continued……
Illustration by Iskander’s Art https://www.instagram.com/iskandersart/