A car alarm sounded in the distance. You could hear people shouting all over town. All I cared about was keeping hold of my mum's hand as she dragged me through the woods at the side of the main road into town.
"Ayissa honey, you understand that we can't be seen, don't you?"
"Keep hold of my hand darling, I'll find us somewhere safe. Don't you worry."
It took all of my energry to concentrate on keeping hold of her hand that night. I was so tired and cold. I hadn't had anything to eat and I didn't know how much longer I could continue. I loved my mum so much but I was scared of everything. Everyone. And there was no one left but her that I loved in the whole world.
The next thing that I remember was running through the mall. It was dark and the once beautiful displays were either burnt or smashed. The world looked ugly now. I just wanted to go back home and go to bed but with my heart hammering and my mum pulling me forwards I was forced into a horrible reality. Then she stopped. All of a sudden I wanted to pull her and it frightened me how she stood staring into the window of, 'Little Toys'. She let go of my hand and reached into the window, careful not to cut herself on the jagged glass.
She shushed me and I fell silent. The seconds I stood there felt like hours. Then she turned to me.
"If there is only one thing left I can give you Ayissa. I want it to be something you can remember me by."
She passed me a doll. It was soft and cuddly and beautiful. It had bright red, raggedy hair and a sewn on smile. It was wearing a blue dress just like mine with tiny, blue shoes. This was the doll I had asked her for last christmas. The one she couldn't afford.
"Mummy, what's wrong?"
I remember how silly I felt holding this rag doll stood in the middle of the night in a broken down, desserted mall. It was terrifying.
"Nothing now honey. Nothing's wrong anymore."
Then she grabbed hold of my hand, squoze it tightly, knelt down in front of me and said,
"Look after Jenny baby. Look after her and she will look after you. As long as you have her I'm going to be right here with you. I promise."
Just like that.
I don't think I'll ever shake the sense of regret in her eyes. She loved me. At that moment I knew she loved me. No matter what I had done before. She loved me now and that will always be how I remember her.