1536 c/o Helen Dring

Nowhere to run to

We should have been safe here. That was the first thing I said to Clara once we reached the other side of the border: we're safe now. Along with I'll protect you and no-one will hurt us. I remember feeling her slumped into my arms, tired from the journey and half exhausted anyway from the worry of leaving. I told her things that I believed. I never thought they would come here, too.

We never would have converted. Even if we were caught, if we were questioned, if we were tortured. But of course, that's very easy to say when you have not been caught. I knew I had to get Clara away from there before they reached us. It was our home there, Leon. I was born with Castilla in my veins, not Israel. If I had to die for a country, it would be Spain. But not any more. Not since Alvaro.

Alvaro wasn't my father, but he was the one who raised me. He was the man who taught me what it was to be a sephardim, why we were chosen as we were. Alvaro was quiet, gentle, unassuming. He worked at an orphanage, which, of course, is how we found each other. It was Alvaro who taught me to make sure no one stole my food, who told me to bite my tongue and forgive the ones who tormented me.

But I will never forgive this. Not the way he was plucked wordlessly from his post, the way he just disappeared and never saw us again. Never saw anything again. Those who preach of love and prayer, of mass, are the most heartless of all the people I have ever seen. The ones who stole my country, who stole Alvaro.

That's why I moved Clara. The journey across the border was breathless, wordless. None of us wanted to think of what would happen were we caught. Porto, when we saw it, was green and fresh – a new hope after a dark hole. I thought we would all be safe here. I promised her.

Now we are back at the start. Hidden in the back room of an old house, Clara's head resting on my lap, her hands rubbing over the tautness of her stomach. This was not what I wanted for her, for our child. I never thought it would happen here, too. I kiss her gently on the head and pull her closer. All we have now is this space, these moments. Waiting to be caught. Waiting for it to end. Then, we will be safe.