It's sometimes odd how things work out, fall into place, in a way you could never imagine. Something is said, something happens, one thing leads to another. The ripple effect. A tiny drop in the ocean spreads out in all directions, touching different people in different ways.
They were all four there to meet Jeff and Alec off the plane. It was kind of weird, like a family event. Only Jordan and Amelie were not old enough to be the parents, but Jeff and Alec certainly qualified as grandparents. Suddenly there they were, emerging from behind a real family. Pushing a trolley loaded with two cases and hand luggage.
Samir waved at Alec, who smiled back nodding and raising a hand from the trolley in acknowledgement. Soon after, they were standing around in a group, speaking all at once.
“Good flight?” Jordan asked.
“Okay,” Jeff replied.
“You look like the photo,” Samir told Alec.
“Well yes, I guess that's good then,” he smiled.
“I can't believe you came,” Firas was saying.
“Why? Why Not?” Jeff replied.
“Because...” And now Firas went all shy.
Jeff put an arm around the boy, “Because what?” He said gently.
“Because it’s so far for one thing, because you only just spoke once with us, because you...” he trailed off again.
“I know,” Jeff told him, squeezing his shoulder. “Because we don't know you. And you don't know us either.”
“But that will all change soon enough, if you want?” Alec added.
“Yes we do, we do,” Samir was just so excited.
Firas was too, but he couldn't believe it was really happening.
“We want, yes... please,” Firas said, bowing his head and looking down at the floor. He didn't know if he had said the right thing or the wrong thing.
Alec came over and gently lifted his chin up.
“Don't worry, my boy. We are here for you and you can count on us. Sometimes there will be misunderstandings. Language, life, whatever. We'll get through it all together. Okay?”
He smiled his biggest, friendliest, smile. He knew it would not be easy, but this seemed like destiny. Something that the two of them had talked about, but never thought would happen. 'God it's strange how things work out,' he thought.
They'd arranged to eat again at the little restaurant where the vines climbed over the roof of the terrace. The food, even if it was a hamburger and fries, was simple and good. It was a place where everyone could feel relaxed and talk. There was a lot of getting to know you to be done.
Amelie chatted to Jeff during the trip from the airport. She explained what Bazyli had done through the people he knew. There would be no need to attend an interview in person. It was more or less all arranged, almost a formality. But it would take a couple of weeks. Then both boys would, all things going as planned, be granted asylum – refugee status. Jeff and Alec could return to Canada once the boys had their papers. The rest was over to them to sort out. Amelie explained her time was almost up and she had to be on a plane home at the end of the week. She also told them Jordan would inevitably be going home when they left with the boys.
“He could always fly back with us to Toronto,” Jeff told her.
“I don't know. You will have to talk to him about it. But not when the boys are around. The separation is going to be hard.”
“Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?”
“Well, it depends what it is.”
“Are you and Jordan, um, together or…?”
“We've become close friends,” she interrupted him. “Nothing more.”
Alec wondered about that as well, but he said nothing.
The boys were with Jordan in another taxi ahead of Jeff, Alec and Amelie. They passed the journey asking Jordan endless questions about Jeff and Alec, which Jordan was unable to answer.
“You will have to ask them those questions. They are nice people, but I don't know much more than you do.”
“Yes, but you know a bit more,” Firas replied.
Jordan ruffled his hair. “What do you think, I'm hiding something?” He laughed.
“No, but, why?” Firas asked.
“That question Firas is like you asking me why I took you to Antalya. Like asking why Burhan let you all live with him. Why Ayberk helped Samir and Amar cross the border. I am sure there are lots of reasons. And I am sure that Alec and Jeff will tell you. Even then, sometimes we don't know ourselves why we do everything. Why we make certain choices.”
For awhile there was only the sound of the engine and the music the driver had playing on the radio. Neither Firas nor Samir spoke. Until after several minutes, Firas posed another question.
“Why did you take us to Antalya?”
“That's easy,” Jordan smiled. “Because there were three spare places in the jeep.”
“And why did you sail the yacht from Greece to rescue us and take us to Europe?”
“That is a harder question. I felt like I had made you a promise. I was responsible for you in some way. So I had to do whatever I could. Actually, that sounds kind of grand. It was an adventure. One thing just led to another.”
“You're a very good man,” Samir told him.
“Not really.” 'He wasn't any kind of hero, just an average American,' he told himself.
“When I got pulled from the rubble after the bomb. When our apartment was destroyed. The doctor told me ‘We will take care of you.’ But it never happened. Amar and you did though. You both took care of me.”
There were tears in the young boy's eyes and also in Jordan's eyes. He hugged them both.
“Amelie's gone with the boys to see Halil and Rifat. You remember I mentioned they were all living together in the camp?” Jordan was telling Jeff and Alec. “She wants to give them Bazyli's number and also to say goodbye.”
“Will this friend of hers be able to help them too?” Jeff asked him.
“I wish it were that simple, but I don't think so. You see their situation is quite different. Their family is living in Turkey, so it's more complicated.”
“Because they're not orphans?” Alec asked.
“You know I am far from being any sort of expert in all this. Amelie probably knows a lot more than I do. But yes, I suppose because they aren't orphans. Halil is an adult. It could also be argued they are safe in Turkey. It may not be the best place in the world for them to live, but it's not a war zone.”
“I guess everyone wants to come to Europe,” Jeff added.
“The land of promise they call it. Yeah it’s the dream, the goal.”
“So what about you?” Alec asked him.
“What about me?”
“Do you want to come back with us to Canada?”
“Oh, I see. No Alec, I don't think so. You and Jeff will be more than able to look after the boys and to give them a great new start in life. I can't really imagine it working out better than with you.”
“You will come and see us won’t you?” Alec asked Jordan. “The boys will want to see you, Amelie would like to see you, and so would Jeff and I.”
“My whole life,” Alec continued, “I've had one ambition unfulfilled. I always made excuses, not enough time, no inspiration, I won’t be any good.”
“And what was this great ambition Alec?” Jordan posed the question.
“To write a book. But you need a good story don't you?”
“I imagine you do,” Jordan grinned. “And I'm sure you're about to tell me you've got it.”
“Too right I am, and what a story. One that deserves to be told. So I need you to visit us to check up on how we're doing.”
“With your book? You could email it.”
“Not with the book, idiot,” Alec smiled gently.
“Oh I see.”
Athens airport was becoming as well known to them as the port and town of Piraeus, Jordan kissed Amelie on the cheek and hugged her. Samir and Firas hugged her, and made her promise to visit when they followed her home to Toronto. Alec and Jeff thanked her for everything and said they would be in touch soon. It should not be long before they were all back home.
Jordan watched her go through the gate into the departure lounge. He wondered about his feelings. He felt a pang of loss as she walked away, but he told himself he had let her go. He had made a choice, he could have done things different, but he hadn't.
“Are you both happy to go and live with Alec and Jeff?” Jordan asked the boys.
“Of course we are,” Samir told him.
“Yes, definitely,” Firas added. “But...” He didn't know how to say what he wanted to tell Jordan.
Jordan looked at Firas, something passed between them that was indefinable, but they both felt it. They looked each other in the eyes.
“I know,” was all Jordan could say.
Samir felt it too, there was an emotion floating just out of reach. He loved Jordan, he could never repay him for what he had done, but he knew for Firas there was something more. It made him think of Amar – ‘we made it Amar, we all made it, just not maybe quite how we imagined!’
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