“My life is literally in pieces,” Sadie thought. The absurdity of it prompted a bark of laughter.
Yesterday—was it only yesterday?—life was serving up one challenge after another. The water heater went on the fritz and they’d had to skip morning showers. The cat peed on the carpet, again. She noticed the paint was peeling from the wall above the kitchen sink. A crack was forming across the concrete steps to the garage.
She and Aaron had put so much into this house, yet it seemed like there was always one more thing, then one more after that.
She slowly turned around, taking in 360 degrees. As far as she could see, the ground was covered in shards. The debris field of her house was indistinguishable from the debris field of neighbouring houses. The tornado had chewed the houses up and vomited them in one endless sea of shards.
Little was recognizable. There must be pieces of furniture, roof shingles, curtains, kids’ toys, and foam insulation, but it just looked to her like freeze-dried soup mix.
Glass crunched under her shoes. Sadie looked down. Inches from the toe of her shoe, she saw something poking out of the new mess of her life. She reached down and carefully pried out an ornate, tarnished spoon. Her mother’s spoon.
Her mother brought the spoon with her when she came to Canada. Her mother and her family had fled the old country with almost nothing, but her mother, Almiri, took this spoon from their home. The spoon had been Almiri’s grandmother’s, and she couldn’t bear to leave it there to be bombed to shards.
The government restricted its residents from leaving the country. Almiri’s family pretended they were going to visit relatives across the border. They brought no luggage—they just packed a few things in the car to demonstrate they didn’t expect to be away for longer than a day.
They brought as much cash with them as they dared. Most of it was spent bribing guards at checkpoints to let them through. After hours waiting at the border, they were finally out of their former homeland. They had no relatives across the border. They spent the first night sleeping in the car. The first of many nights on their long journey to Canada.
“I came to this country with nothing!” Sadie’s mother would declare, whenever Sadie pined over things she could not have. The phrase was one Sadie heard often as she was growing up.
Sadie hadn’t been able to imagine what it would be like to start rebuilding a life from scratch. But her mother had done it with nothing but her grandmother’s spoon.
Sadie heard a vehicle approaching, winding carefully through the debris-strewn street. She turned to see Aaron stepping out of a rental truck. A borrowed utility trailer was hitched to the back.
Aaron picked his way over to join her, putting on his work gloves as he stepped over tangled debris. He stopped, and pivoted around 360 degrees, just like Sadie had done a few minutes ago. He let out a slow breath.
“How do we do this? Where do we even start?” Aaron wondered aloud.
Sadie looked at the spoon in her hand.
“We start with this,” she told him, “And we take it one thing at a time.”