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Die Last

Then I had her in my arms and I was screaming for an ambulance and hands were reaching out to help me get her out of the back of that death truck and onto a stretcher that we loaded into an ambulance parked in the middle of Shaftesbury Avenue, the swirling blue lights piercing the frozen winter morning. We tore through the city, the sirens howling at the world, telling it to get out of our way.

“You’re safe now,” I said, trying to stay on my feet in the back of the rocking ambulance, squeezing her hands, trying to get some warmth back into them. “We’re getting you help. Don’t give up. Stay with me.”

She did not reply.

“Don’t give up, okay?” I said.

And she did not reply.

I had never felt anything colder than that young woman’s hands.

“Will you tell me your name?” I asked.

“My name is Hana,” she whispered.