Just Don't Turn Around (Chapter 3, page 1 of 35)

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Chapter 3

It was Monday, July 23, 1984, early morning, and I did not know why but I tried to leave before people who lived in the apartments around us would be going to work. Maybe it was because I did not want to bump into people like Sobotka, Klubesova or Cervenohlava from the fifth floor, ever again. Not only them, but all the others living on the same floor who were employed at the same company as I and were all Communists.

I parked the car next to the main entrance, so I did not have to carry the entire luggage across the street to the parking lot. However, by the time I had carried all the luggage down and put it in the trunk, I met all those people I was trying to avoid. When everything was in the car, I went up to the apartment and double-checked if we were missing anything. Nora and the kids were ready to go on our big trip. Nora held her purse, the kids the backpack with toys and I took a bag with our passports and other documents. Nora and I looked at each other: "So, do we have everything?" I asked.

"Do you have all the documents?" Nora asked.

"Here they are," I said and lifted the bag with them in front of me.

"Where are we going?" Peter asked.

To Prague, for a few days," I said only about part of our journey.

"Where is Prague?" Katarina asked.

"Dad goes there for his business trips," Peter jumped ahead of me with his answer.

"By car it will take us about five hours," I said.

"Are we going?" I asked.

"Yes, let's go," Peter said and Katarina opened the door and walked into the stairway. Peter followed her. Nora and I looked at each other silently and then ran our eyes one more time over everything we could see from the main entrance. Nora joined the kids going downstairs and I was the last one leaving the apartment. I locked the door and an idea flashed through my head: "Almost everything we have worked for in the last nine years is there behind that door. Apartment, furniture…clothes…carpets…pots and pans and all the other dishes…all the books…everything…."

I just took a deep breath and said quietly"

…just don't turn around…"

I closed my eyes for a few seconds and then ran down the stairs as fast as possible. Nora and the kids were just coming out of the main entrance when I caught up with them. It was seven o'clock in the morning. We got in the car and left by highway to Prague.

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