At first glance the choice was simple. Stay on this bank of the river and be safe, but alone. Or cross the river and be with his family, but face the danger of being infected by the virus.
The official order was no one was allowed to enter the quarantined island. The traffickers had quickly set up an illegal network to profit from those who wanted to return home.
He tried to weigh up the reasons for staying away. He was no use to his children if he, like them, was exposed to the virus and became ill. The mortality rate was 50-50. He was no use to his wife if he became another invalid needing cared for. So far she was clear of any infection.
But could he bear to carry on living if one of his children succumbed to the illness and he was no there to say goodbye? He may not pick up the virus, in which case he would be able to help care for them, and others.
It was futile to blame the authorities. He didn’t believe in fate or any God who may have visited this plague upon his house.
It was only three quick steps over the stepping stones. He had reached the front of the queue. A trafficker was ushering people along. He started shouting into his face. ‘Move! No time! Go!’
He had to decide now. He could feel the sweat under his shirt. He grimaced with tension. He raised his foot and stepped onto the first stone. There was no going back now.
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