Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, through the night.
Then the traveller in the dark
Thanks you for your tiny spark;
He could not see where to go,
If you did not twinkle so.
In the dark blue sky you keep,
And often through my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye
Till the sun is in the sky.
As your bright and tiny spark
Lights the traveller in the dark,
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
Amar thought a lot about Samir, he felt what they had together was slipping away. He told himself he shouldn't be surprised, the boy was growing up. That they had come a long way was self-evident, it had been an epic journey. They had experienced that journey together and had been close, but it was never going to last forever, was it? That was the question he asked himself all the time. Samir had changed him, changed the way he was, and given some sense to all this. What now?
Firas wondered how a boy who seemed like the weakest of the three of them, could turn out to be the strongest. He totally controlled Amar, but did Samir even realise it? He'd slept with Joram without a second thought, not even trying. Whereas Firas, well, he ached for some love, he really had tried to become friends with Joram. He wasn't jealous of Samir. The boy was nothing other than good. No, not jealous, just sad he was the one always on the outside looking in.
Samir felt a change in Amar, something that had come about since he'd done his own thing and gone off with Stefan. ‘Was he jealous?’ He didn't know, and he felt there wasn't any way of finding out. He could talk to Firas, but even he seemed distant. They were not quite the same tight group they once were. Perhaps it was all the waiting around and going nowhere. The routine of every day being like the last.
Stefan actually came searching for him. ‘That’s a first,’ Samir thought. He had Joram with him and they were just crossing the tracks when Firas spotted them.
“Hey look!” He turned to Samir who was right next to him. “It's Joram, and he’s got Stefan with him.”
Samir watched the two of them approach. Amar came to join them. Rifat and Halil looked on from the other side of the tent where they were retrieving clothes from the washing line they had strung up.
“Hi kid,” Stefan greeted Samir as they arrived. Joram nodded, but said nothing.
“Hi,” Samir replied, Amar and Firas just looked at the two of them.
“Relax everybody,” Stefan could feel a certain tension in the air. “I came to find you, cos I got a deal... if you're interested.”
Now Amar spoke up. “What kind of deal?”
“The guy I'm doing some work for, he liked the vid.”
“Would you like some tea?” Firas interrupted. He too felt the tension and wanted to take the edge off things. He also thought he might get to talk to Joram.
“Ah well, yeah, why not?”
Now this was quite something, because Mr Super Cool Flashy Car never gave them the time of day before.
Firas went to fix the tea whilst Amar politely invited everyone to seat themselves on one of the two wooden railway sleepers they used as benches.
“So what’s this deal?” Samir asked.
“Rushid, this is the guy I made the film for, he wants more.”
“Yeah. I told you if it works out you could make some cash.”
“You also promised a mobile phone, but I'm still waiting.”
Stefan leaned to one side and reached a hand into his pocket. He pulled out a phone, turned it in the palm of his hand, then reached out to hand it to Samir.
“Wait no longer. I'm a man of my word,” Stefan smiled.
Firas came back just as Samir took possession of the phone. A smile lit up his face as he regarded the object he held. Firas put the teapot down on the makeshift table in the middle of the two benches. Rifat and Halil placed the glasses, before sitting, one on each end of the sleepers.
“Of course it works. It's prepaid with twenty euros credit, but you just top it up when the money runs out.”
“So who is this Rushid guy?” Amar wanted to know more.
“That doesn't matter. All you need to know is he’s willing to pay for two more short films.”
“That's with Joram,” Amar nodded in his direction, “and Samir.”
“You got it.”
Firas was pouring the tea, but he had been listening, he just finished the last glass. “Just the two of them?”
“Actually no. This time I need one or two extras.” He smiled looking around at the group.
“Who?” Firas wanted to know.
“It doesn't matter. No, you,” Stefan pointed at Halil. “You're too old for this, but you,” he looked at Amar, “or you,” he turned to Rifat, “or you.” He smiled at Firas. “Any of you. You decide.” He sipped the hot sweet tea.
They looked at each other, and a silence descended as they drank the hot beverage Firas had served.
Stefan stood up and asked Samir to come with him so he could explain the scenario. He wanted to let Samir decide who to include.
Firas turned to Joram, “So was it good with Samir?”
The young man looked at him as if that was a rather direct question about something private, which it was. Firas wondered if he'd answer.
“It was fine,” Joram stared hard at Firas.
Amar nudged Firas with his foot, telling him secretly, to shut up.
“You known that guy Stefan for very long?”
Before this conversation could go any further, Stefan and Samir where back.
“So, thanks for the tea. The kid here will explain everything. I have to go.”
Joram stood up. “Thanks.” He and Stefan left.
Halil, who hadn't said anything, decided he better make things perfectly clear.
“Listen, you guys do what you like. It's your choice, but I don't want my little cousin involved. Is that clear?”
“Yeah, sure, no problem,” Amar told him.
“Good, because I like you guys, but take my advice and steer clear of that guy. He’s not good news.”
“I know, I understand what you're saying,” Amar agreed.
“So that leaves us to decide,” he turned to look at Firas, then Samir. “Let's take a walk.”
The three boys found their way to a deserted corner of the port where there was a pile of old broken pallets, a source of firewood used by everybody. It was free and for that reason alone, a better choice than bottled gas while it lasted. They weren't here to collect the wood, just to be alone together.
“Who's going to do it?” Samir was holding up the phone.
Amar considered the question, he had always taken charge of the phone they had back in Turkey, but now things were not the same. “You do it,” he told Samir.
Samir smiled and handed the phone to Firas. “No, you make the call. You remember the number?”
Firas took the phone. He knew the number by heart, they all did. It crossed his mind the number might not work, but he dismissed the thought. He looked at the phone and hit the button to call, tapped 001 and the rest of the numbers followed automatically even though this was the first time he'd ever made this call.
The battery was almost full, the signal was good, it was 14:27. His heart was beating fast.
He turned on the speaker.
There was a moment of silence, then it was ringing.
Amar and Samir gathered around, they all hovered expectantly over the phone.
His phone buzzed and vibrated. It was still early although he had been up a while. Almost 9:30, he looked at the large clock on the wall over the kitchen counter.
“Unknown Caller” the phone displayed, and he was about to hit reject. ‘I can't deal with cold calling first thing in the morning,’ he was thinking. There was a lot to do today. But instead of hitting reject and ending the call, he hit the green button and picked up the phone.
It stopped ringing, there was a silence, then they all heard his voice, “Hello!”
Firas could hardly get the words out. “Jordan,” it was almost a whisper. Tears wear misting his eyes. Samir and Amar crowded in even tighter.
Jordan thought it was a weird call, but he heard his name. Then something odd happened. He thought he recognised the voice.
“Jordan,” Firas tried to speak louder, but he was too overcome with emotion. Tears were streaming down his face, he was trembling. Samir had an arm over his shoulder, hugging him. He too had wet eyes.
“Is that?...” Jordan couldn't believe it was Firas.
Amar leaned over the phone. “Mister Jordan, it’s us!”
Jordan was stunned, but he continued. “Amar... Firas,” he managed to get out.
“And Samir!” Samir added.
“Oh god! You're okay?”
“Yes we're okay,” Amar told him.
“Yes,” Firas finally managed a word.
“We are in Greece. The mainland, Piraeus.”
“Did you get your papers?” Jordan asked as he recovered from the shock.
“Jordan,” his mother called as she entered the kitchen, not noticing he was on the phone.
Jordan held up his hand, looking at her.
They heard a woman's voice call his name.
“Not yet,” Amar told him.
“But you're all fine?”
“Yes, yes, don't worry. It's good.”
“Do you have an address, a number?”
His mother had stopped dead in her tracks. She was looking at her son with some concern.
The phone went silent.
Jordan looked at his phone. “Call Ended,” it displayed.
“Jordan, is something wrong?”
“You won't believe it,” Jordan wiped his eyes.
His mother came over and gave her son a hug, brushing a hand gently through his hair. Instinctively, she knew something had happened. She waited for him to explain.
“It was the boys, the refugees,” he avoided looking at her. For some stupid reason he didn't want her to see his tears.
“Shit!” Firas shouted. “It cut out.”
“It's okay,” Amar said. “He heard us.”
“Yeah,” Samir added. “He knows we're fine.”
The three boys hugged each other and stayed like that, locked together until Firas calmed down, stopped trembling, and they stopped crying. That moment brought them back together like the tight knit band of brothers that they had always been. That moment changed things, they shared something like they had not experienced since the voyage on the yacht from Turkey.
Still holding her son, feeling how upset he was, she tried to comfort him. “You could use the house phone to call them back,” she suggested.
Jordan looked up at his mother. “Thanks mom, but I don't have a number,” he had recovered somewhat from the shock. It had been weeks, no months, he had thought that he probably would never hear from them. He had hoped they'd made it, were safe. Now, at least, he had the confirmation of that.
“It was a bit of a shock. I'm okay. I know they are safe. They made it to the Greek mainland, and they are all together.”
“I'm sure they will try to call again,” his mother reassured him.
Perhaps they would, he was sure if they were able, he would hear from them.