Tanks surround cities. Helicopter gunships dart above deserted market stalls and abandoned garden restaurants. Sirens call women from shoe stores and banks. School children are turned back at the roads that would lead them to waiting mothers in the suburbs.
Some of the people fleeing bullets and shells seek out alternative routes, if not to their own home, then to a relative’s. They locate a phone and report that they’re safe – for the moment. "But what about Samir and Fideh? The school closed early. Where could they be? What about Adnan at his pharmacy, and Leila at her office?"