by Marijke Hillmann
The camper ambles its way through the Tete Province, Mozambique on a sweltering, humid late afternoon in 1975.? Our 13 months? old son is dozing off in his seat ? I sit next to him and hold the bottle he has just finished drinking.
Screeching brakes:? the sliding door is opened and I stare at the barrel of an AK47. Five armed child soldiers aged between 10 and 14 clamber onto the bus; number five keeps his gun pointed at the baby. Frozen in time ? I just stare.? Then my hands cover the baby ? he stirs and sleeps on.
Disjointed images? I watch rivulets of sweat moving slowly towards a protruding belly button under a torn camouflage shirt, two buttons are missing. ?Does this boy have a mother?? I wonder.?
Some excitement amongst the other four ? they point their rifles at my husband and indicate that he must open the little fridge; in awe they touch the cold cans and milk bottles stored there.? Chattering amongst themselves, they open the glove compartment and pick up the little portable fan on the dashboard.
After a few minutes my husband calls them to order: ?listen you guys ? he points at his watch ? the border closes at 6 pm ? off you go now ? no more nonsense?.? With a movement of his head he directs them outside.? I catch my breath???????..
The five recruits disembark and glance backwards once more at the little white miracle. Their minute of excitement for the day, a defining moment in my life.
We drive on and reach the border in time.
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Richard Edwards has a BFA in Creative Writing and Journalism from Bowling Green State University and an M.S. in Education from the University of Akron. Managing editor of Drunk Duck, poetry editor for Prairie Margins, reporter for Miscellany, Akron Journal, Lorain Journal, and The BG News. He has also worked as a professional writer and editor in the medical publishing industry for several years. For the last 15 years Richard has also taught literature and writing at the secondary and post-secondary levels. He works much of the time with at-risk students.