I sat down in my seat. Alex brought the child on board. What is it about these children, blue eyes, blond hair, there must have been some Nordic ancestors to impart these characteristics? The child was scared, probably remembering he was going to be sold. He was frightened. He seemed to relax as the other boys came on board. Alex handed me the folder, passports, papers, and some background on each child.
Jimmy asked the boys to buckle up as he demonstrated. I saw the boys reach for their belts. Then Jimmy dropped the screen and started a movie. It was a cartoon, and soon the kids were laughing. The little tyke on my lap was squirming. I asked Jimmy for a blanket so I could soften my skinny boney legs. After that, he leaned into me and enjoyed the movie.
Jimmy handed out some hot chocolate and cookies while we waited. It was about an hour and a half before Tony boarded. Jimmy closed the door, and we moved to the fueling station. Jimmy opened the door, and Alex got off. We spoke a few words. He smiled, taking a handful of cookies and a cup of coffee.
Fueled, we were ready to go. Jimmy rolled up the screen, he went and checked all of the seat belts, and the plane was cleared for takeoff. The little tyke sitting on my lap grabbed my arms, which are around him, holding him, “Relax, Vasily, I got you.”
Hearing his name, he turned and faced me, such blue eyes, there were tears in his eyes. I leaned over and kissed him on his head. His eyes popped open more. I guess he didn’t expect that. One of the boys who was sitting across from me spoke to him. I didn’t understand what he was saying, but his words on Vasily were significant. I felt Vasily relax into my arms. When he looked at me, he smiled. That smile went straight to my heart.
When we reached altitude, Jimmy started to prepare for dinner or lunch, depending on when you had eaten last. He showed the boys how to open the tables, then he came with his wagon, which I forgot that we had, and started to place food in front of each boy. The meal looked delicious and smelled the same way. The boys looked. I took a fork full, making sure it wasn’t too hot and fed it to Vasily. He opened his mouth, and as he tasted the food, he smiled and nodded his head yes. That was it. The other boys started to eat. Then came the hot chocolate, and now everyone was talking, smiling, and, most important, eating.
Jimmy asked if I wanted anything. I told him just coffee would be fine. He set a cup of coffee in front of me with a cookie on the saucer. All of the boys watched that cookie, that they knew.
When they were finished eating, Jimmy picked up the empty plates and served them cookies with a hot chocolate refill. Screen down, and cartoons began again.
I wanted to take a nap, but that wasn’t going to happen, not with who was sitting in my lap. He was watching out of the window. It soon became too dark to see anything. Then he just snuggled in my arms, actually pulling my arms tighter around himself.
I asked Jimmy to phone home our arrival time as I wanted to make sure Peter was there. I also wanted to talk to Maria, but that would have to wait until I was in the limo.
The trip was fine, smooth flight, and Jimmy kept serving snacks and juices, coffee for me.
I noticed the boys drifting off to sleep and then waking back up. Their sleep showed a lot of restlessness. I guessed that this group was more unsettled than the first group, maybe age had something do with it, but probably their previous circumstances had more to do with it.
I noticed that a lot of the boys were beginning to fall asleep. Jimmy covered them with blankets. There were a few whimpers. Every time I heard that, my heart would ache, I heard some soft sobs, and my eyes would tear up. I couldn’t sleep, but Vasily must have decided he wasn’t going to be hurt. He snuggled in, I pulled the blanket over him, and he went to sleep. Looking at him as he slept, I thought of my boy. I wondered if he would look like this when he slept.
No matter how much my attention is diverted, I always reflect on him. I think I need another visit. I don’t believe the hurt and guilt will ever leave me. Sometimes we punish ourselves more than other people punish us.
Lost in my thoughts, Jimmy tapped me on my shoulder, “We are about 1 hour out. Do you want to serve some breakfast?”
“Yes, Jimmy, that would be fine. By the time we get home, they’ll be ready for bed.”
With the cabin lights coming on, the boys began to wake up. Jimmy had breakfast for each of them, egg sandwiches with a side of fruit. Orange juice followed by hot chocolate. I looked around the cabin. The boys had smiles on their faces. For some, it probably was the first time they had something to smile about in a long while.
Breakfast over, Jimmy cleaned up, and then they were glued to the windows watching the ground coming up to meet the plane. A bump and we were down