Four-year-old Christopher Dornan stood with his face to the wall in an impersonal Arlington hotel room yesterday as his mother talked about his ordeal.
"He's my biggest concern now," Ramona Dornan said. "He's keeping it all in, and won't even talk to me about it. I never know what he's thinking."
Less than a week ago, Christopher huddled with his father under the makeshift shelter of a metal trash can lid as anti-American rioters attacked the family's apartment in the U.S. Ebassy compound in Islamabad, Pakistan.
"Daddy, where are we going to live now?" the blond, freckled-faced boy asked as he watched his home burn.
His mother, who was evacuated with her son to the United States late last week with only the soot-spattered clothes she was wearing and one shoe, said she still has no answer for Christopher.
His father, Thomas, was one of the American Embassy employes who remained in Islamabad to continue representing U.S. interests there.
"We don't have any insurance; we don't have any home," said Mrs. Dornan, who lost all her possessions in the riot and fire that consumed the embassy compound. "I don't know what will happen now. We have no money. We have no checkbook." Not even identification.
"I assume the State Department will take care of us somehow," she said.
Christopher, a formerly cheerful child whose artwork filled a room of his parents' Islamabad apartment, swings now from one bad mood to another. "First he's quiet, then he'll cry, and then he's angry," his mother said. "When I ask him a question he'll answer my question with a question."
Ramona Dornan and her son were among about 100 Americans evacuated from the embattled Pakistan capitol last weekend and put up temporarily in the Sheraton National in Arlington.
As they huddled in the locked bathroom of their three-bedroom apartment in the embassy compound last Wednesday, Ramona Dornan said, the family listened as rioters systematically smashed everything they owned and set fire to the rubble.
After about 20 minutes, the Dornans fled their burning building and piled into a jeep with a dozen other Americans under the guard of the Pakistani army on the embassy grounds.
Rioters shouting anti-American epithets tore Dornan's clothes as soldiers herded the Americans through the mob and threw them onto an army truck.
The truck drove toward Pakistani army headquarters but was stopped 20 minutes later at a roadblock, where busloads of students demanded that the men among the Americans be turned over to them as hostages.
The troops agreed to take the men off the truck and load them into a jeep, Dornan said. "When Tom kissed me goodbye, we both felt the obvious, although we didn't say it. We thought that we would never be together again."
But a half hour later, at the army's headquarters, the family was reunited. The jeep had set off in the direction the students had demanded, then circled back to the base.
"The Pakistanis didn't speak English," Dornan said, "but all the way along they kept telling us, 'Sahib okay, sahib okay.' We didn't believe it."
Dornan, who left her purse and passport behind, said she now must persuade her local bank to let her draw on the family's accounts. She and her husband have lived abroad, in Vietnam, Mexico and Pakistan, for 10 years.
"When I think about what we went through and how close we came to death in the six-hour period, I can't imagine that anything worse can happen," Dornan said. "I'm sure we'll manage somehow."
But she's not sure where she and Christopher will live when they leave the hotel a few days from now. She said she is considering visiting relatives in Massachusetts and Montana but is reluctant to wander far from Washington and its possible communications link with her husband.
Nor is she anxious to leave her fellow evacuees.
"We're like a family now, those who went through it," Dornan said. "We don't want to be separated. It's important for me to stick together with others whose husbands aren't here."