|Ifen and Isabelle stood at the rail amidst the throng of passengers wildly waving at the crowd below. On shore a band played and people were cheering, waving and shouting, “Goodbye!” A loud speaker blared over the din, declaring last call. A handful of people broke through the masses and scrambled up the gangway.
Moments later they felt a vibration permeate from the decks below as the enormous engines came to life. The ships horn emitted three short bursts and the ship began to move. Simultaneously, shouts and hoorah’s were heard all around. Champagne corks flew into the air and into the swirling waters below. Young and old alike were drinking toasts for a safe passage. Ifen and Isabelle had never seen the magnitude of this celebration in their poor countryside.
This was the moment they prayed for and spent a long year planning. Excited and happy, they watched as the ship pulled away. The dock was littered with confetti, streamers and popcorn. Throngs of people were now departing, making their way to wherever they called home. Only a few onlookers remained until the ship was out of sight.
In the dying sunlight, Ifen and Isabelle turned to face each other. Each mirrored the other's sudden understanding and doubt. It was done, they were on their way. No going back. The unfathomable Atlantic Ocean stretched ahead as far as the eye could see. They were crossing the border of the unknown.
Both were startled to realize the emotions that crept into their beings and they were totally unprepared for the wrenching sadness that overwhelmed them. They were leaving their home land, their mother, Russia. In silence they hugged each other for comfort as tears streamed down their faces.
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