‘Teddybear Perspective’ by Ren Peltonen, Age 15

I remember when we went across the border. The English Channel below me seemed so vast and blue, a blue that is still technicolour in my mind 12 years later. Water rippled across the waves like the creases in rich silk. It was just the five of us on the plane: her older sister; her mother; her unborn sister; her and then me. Her dad and the cats would follow along later with the car and what was left of our belongings. As I look down again, I think of how small the ferry will be in the Chanel and how small the car that holds our entire, small lives is within it. I look back and take a glimpse of Torrevieja. It’s a small city and I definitely won’t be able to see the small apartments we had lived in these past 3 years but living in it had made us feel 100 times bigger than we really were. I have a funny feeling that we don’t have a return ticket for this flight and I need one last image of the gorgeous skyline we had spent hours looking at. Nothing will ever compare to the image of the sun tucked away behind a characterless, concrete building while casting intense colours of red, orange and pink across the ocean like an effortless watercolour. Her mother protected her well, she doesn’t know why we’re leaving. But I do. She doesn’t notice that we eat dinner in the dark, lit only by flickering candles and she doesn’t hear the low rumble of another skipped meal coming from her mother. Nor does she remember the shouting and screaming from the mouths of her very own grandparents. But I do. I remember being ushered away from an oncoming argument, I heard the hushed conversations from her parents and I noticed everything that made our lives hell. The news from the rusted radio on our kitchen table talked about wars in far-off places, it talked about people seeking asylum in countries like Finland and England, countries where her parents were born. Her parents heard the radio talk about these places too. They talked and discussed and debated where to go before they picked her mother’s homeland. Stories of the green hills and thatched cottages of England were told to us every night and now we were on our way there. But I also knew what our lives were going to be like there. I knew that it would be months of sleeping in the car and years before we settled down in a place of our own. As I sit on her pillow now, years later, watching her study hard to have good grades and a good future, I think of when we had to seek asylum from her family and from the poverty that struck our lives. I think of her, a small girl, having me, a small teddybear, cuddled on her lap and I think of when we went across the border.