We're hurrying down the corridor of the airport in New York nine hours later. My bag swings from one arm whilst my other is tightly wrapped around my daughter's, keeping her in tow. I can hear my own heavy breathing and the way my pulse livens with every step. Almost there. Almost away.
The plane journey was awful and worse than expected. All the while I sat there, knee jogging up and down, head spinning from one direction to another, as if anyone dangerous could pop out at any time. My eyes were like slits, surveying every row, every aisle, every single human being in case they were a danger to my child. But it wasn't that which shocked me. It was the fact that after all this time, it hadn't got better. Even after the flight from Australia to England years ago, I still hadn't learnt how to deal with the constant stress and anxiety.
But Mia wouldn't know.
Mia doesn't even know she's Australian.
Now, we calm ourselves enough to drive through security looking as innocent as possible, though part of me knows it won't be long before someone is after us; I'm sure they can easily trace where we're going.
But that doesn't stop me.
It's never stopped me.
As soon as we reach the humid, summer air we're filing into a taxi and yelling directions. I try to ignore the purple Saturn rings that line my daughter's eyes, the lines that remind me of her tantrums as a child, the effect of her not having enough sleep. The rage was always there, the gleam in her eye as she'd kick and scream in annoyance, pushing me away as soon as I stepped even close to her.
I should have known.
The next part of the journey is a blur. The street lights form into one long stream of colours, lining the beautiful city in which I'll never have a proper chance to see. It won't be long now, I think to myself. If we ever make it.
I'm almost drifting off when I hear a faint rustle beside me. I look up, rubbing my eyes, to see my daughter has rummaged through my bag. My eyes immediately shoot over to her, watching as she holds the rectangular shaped book in her hand.
I try to calm the nerves that begin to erupt inside me. Don't lunge. Don't react. Calmly take it back. I try to reassure myself that it'll all be okay. But will it?
"Mia, can I have the passport back, please?"
She looks as me quizzically. "Why?"
"I don't want to lose it, now, come on," I reach over to grab them out of her hand but in a swift movement she holds them above her head away from me, flicking through the pages.
No. No. This can't be happening right now.
But I know it's too late. I fall back into my seat in defeat as I feel the silence approaching us. It's only a matter of minutes before I feel her eyes boring into the side of my head.
"Is this me?" Mia asks.
She holds up a photo to me. It's the passport photo of Mia when she was ten. Her hair is cut short, a little bob lining her small head, and her eyes are shining with happiness, innocence. Or so I thought at the time.
I gulp. "Yes."
She flicks her eyes across the page and I feel myself shrinking into the chair.
"Then why does it say my name is Sydney?"