Copyright © 2015
The story you are reading is fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are fictitious and purely for your reading pleasure. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events, or locality is entirely coincidental.
She was alone now. Her brother well past the stage of caring. They had been alone for what seemed like forever. The time spent out in the open had now gone into days, or was it weeks … months even. However long, it amounted to loneliness, at least for a time. Keeping each other safe had been a hazard on more than one occasion, avoiding people, or even worse, trying to avoid the authorities …
Sarah looked out into the distance, where there was a sea that was calm, for now at least. The light from the moon giving a fabled glow that made her brother Bryan look to be in a peaceful sleep. Peaceful he was; asleep he wasn't … which tugged heartlessly at her, again bringing tears.
The cove gave off a myriad of colours, as the waves danced with the moonlight. The waves slapped against the rocks, giving an echo as the sea entered the arch to one of the many caves that opened in the cliffs … smugglers' holes was an explanation. Looking over to one side, she saw images of black fire as it danced across the mouth of the cave.
As the daylight came into play, an eerie sound of waves could be heard lapping up all that came in its path. The early morning, unsettled as it came into play would, she knew, allow the cold that would bite into her bones for a while longer. The sea looked still and settled from a distance, maybe this was the calm before the storm. Her vision, though limited within their vicinity, gazed again, as maybe in protection, down at Bryan, his face pale within' the dim light, his body cold. Gently, she leaned the boy against her side, and lovingly wrapped her arms around him, swapping her differing body heat for his to attune to her own, not in itself going unnoticed. The night had been long, and she and her brother would be alone for a few hours longer; but as when in need, each other's company gave a sense of security.
The day did, had gone, as the proceeding days had … tired, hungry, lonely… but they were together.
Sitting, she smiled at the fact that she and Bryan were now creating history by smoothing the rock they sat on. Then her stomach growled, causing a giggle that within their confines created the elements of an echo.
As she came down from her welcomed high; like many times before, she gazed at her brother. Helplessness now gave into loneliness as tears ran down her cheeks. Why did she have to involve her brother Bryan. It was all her fault … but … but … she stumbled, as even in her head the words refused to form. "I'm sorry, Bryan," she said, as she pulled his lifeless form tight into a guilty embrace.
They'd had a good family, though neglective of each other at times. Their family had been them with a mother and a father; any aunts, uncles, or even grandparents they might have had, they never saw; if at all there were any. Traveling was something they had done so often. Their father being a doctor had meant that they'd move regularly. Their father had worked a lot in Africa, Columbia, Asia, and almost every other country where people were poor. His work was his life, an aid worker as they are known. He begged and pleaded with all the pharmaceutical industry giants for their life saving medications, even accepting what they classified as out of date, even to the point of untested.
They had now come home to England, leaving their father behind, for the time being at least. Their mother had told them that it was only for a short time … their father would join them soon. But to have somewhere they could call their own, settle in one place, have a home … and as Sarah thought … live happily ever after was something new.
Again looking off into the distance, she became sad. She was numb, not with the cold, but with thoughts and memories that were floating around in her mind. At times like this, she felt dizzy, her head spun with all the thoughts she had to sort, put in order, and work out. Being as guilt was her nemesis, her actions and her thoughts did more to accentuate her own grief as good and evil reared its ugly head. In her mind, there would be no way out, whichever turn she made.
Bryan had been a laugh a minute. He giggled at the slightest thing. Seven year olds tend to be alive to what is around them, everything being a cause for fun. Sarah was only a kid herself. But at eleven, she knew more - having seen more than most her own age could only dream about. Herself and her brother, who in their short life, had been all over the world, seen the places people can only read about in books. To ones so young, the seven wonders of the world were magnified. From a life of happiness to a life of sorrow that now existed for only two. She sobbed openly, as a secret she had tried to hide came back to haunt her again. One, there's only one now, the voice in her head told her. Her heart again sank with the guilt.
Again her eyes drifted to what was the sea, the open space, the whole world. A world she now carried around on her shoulders. One morning a few days ago, her brother Bryan didn't wake up. She got angry, telling him how selfish he was leaving her alone, and leaving her to sort this mess out on her own. She didn't mean to get angry … she loved her brother - really!
Sarah was not an unruly child, nor selfish … it seemed that she had the natural ability to please. Though strong willed, she was quiet, but with a touch of arrogance. Her brother, more than anyone close, meant the world to her.
Though only seven, her brother was heavy, heavier than usual. At least, that's what it seemed like for the eleven year old carrying him, which she had done many times, more than she would have liked; but he was her brother and needed help... He needed the fresh air after being inside all day; he needed to get outside once in a while.
She'd picked Bryan up, taking him and herself to the cave to try and get some rest … sleep in even maybe. Her mind, now getting to a stage where thoughts … no dreams … became a sign of make believe.
It was now winter, which more often than not left the beaches clear. Even during the day, surfers usually used the other cove for the waves, which meant they were left alone. She shivered at the thought of how anyone bare skinned could surf, some even swam. But that was sometimes good, sometimes bad … missing contact, company of another human being, if only to converse, share companionship at a distance … even when the other party is unaware.
She released her brother, sitting him neatly up against the cave wall. "I love you Bryan," she whispered as she settled down beside him, held his hand, and brushed his hair from over his eyes. He had often got scared as the night drew in; so, holding hands was a blessing, even for Sarah. Sleep would eventually come, but not before the cold would bite harshly into her bones.
She pulled Bryan into herself, so he wouldn't feel the cold.
Crying, she held her brother tightly … again instinctively brushing his hair back as she had done so many times before. Kissing his forehead, she wished him goodnight, as eventually she felt herself drifting off into a fitful sleep.
Daybreak would come too soon.
Wishing Bryan a good morning; she with every fibre of her body, walked over to the mouth of the cave, shivering as the cold and cruel morning air bit into every inch of her body. Though dull, the moon seemed to have a glow as it slowly disappeared in the mist, as if engulfed.
A glow could be seen in the distance behind the mist, giving the night a rest as the daytime started its shift. The sun would shine with dampness in the air, as the heat dissolved into a cold chill. This was God's day. Sunday, this as a day was a day of rest.
The chill seemed to multiply as she walked back to her brother to comfort him. She wanted her Bryan … no, she needed him. She felt alone, deserted. Leaning Bryan's head against her shoulder, she wept … wept for herself, her mother, and her father. Her brother, as he lay still, needed help, even as he was now. She looked up to the heavens, her eyes glazed with prayer, not a word needed to be spoken, the looks given said more than words. A silent prayer asked for her brother to be safe, not to be alone - the thought and compassion would stir any heart with tears of sorrow.
Hearing noises, she lifted her brother, moving Bryan and herself further into the cave. The darkness within, she hoped would be her helper.
With the echo of footsteps, a dog barked, and a child giggled. As she held her brother tightly, leaving no space between them, her heart sank, sank with the memories of her own laughter. As tears slowly ran down her cheeks, she looked down at her brother with sadness. Bryan's face gave the look of a smile, a look she hadn't seen for some time. Smiling in return, she pulled Bryan closer, gently administering a kiss to his forehead.
Looking within their confines, a warm feeling within herself, she smiled. She felt a calmness as she watched the shadows dance, caressing the inside of their now abode as the water rippled with black and silver; even the occasional froth as it turned tail from the rocks it encountered, but still there was a doubt, a doubt of their future … but she knew they would always be together. Though her heart would treasure the thought, reality was painful, and still hard to absorb.
Her father had stayed behind in Pakistan, abducted, kidnapped, paraded on camera; his head raised, dirty, unkempt, eyes that showed a mixture of steel and sorrow. Their actions for the release of political prisoners would maybe gain monies from supporters, even notoriety … which was their real goal. It seems that governments don't give into demands by factions of any, be that for ransom or terrorist. Her father was killed, disgustedly and cowardly. His final moments of life - the pain in his eyes - gnawed as your belly tightened. This was the view of a human being given time on the internet; even news stations were giving the gory details in prime time to all, or anyone who would listen. Again, a mother, a daughter, a son, a family were torn - ripped apart by what should have been a personal grief.
To further compound the misery from within, a mother, a wife breaking down, taking the only comfort she thought would help ... drink. Didn't she understand that her children loved and missed him too? Their children…
Sarah became the adult, she cooked what she could when she could, making sure that her brother and herself were fed. At times, making only for one, two if she knew her mum would not throw the contents of her plate back at who gave it to her.
Bryan was bathed when needed, getting him ready for school neat and tidy. This was not a normal thing, or maybe it was for a child to go through on a daily basis, at least it wasn't in this household … or never used to be.
She huddled tight to her brother, as if trying to squeeze the hurt away. Her mind drifted back to the times, times when shouting at Bryan for one thing or another, shouting that sometimes got a tongue in her face, even a playful grin … she smiled. Now, she felt her heart try to squeeze the life out of her. It hurt with a sense of being deserved, though in fact, undeserved.
Guilt is a powerful emotion, an emotion that should not be given to one so young. Bryan, though seemingly asleep to anyone who took notice, looked down on his sister with fear. She was alone, helpless, scared. Whispering in her ear, giving her encouragement, he gave a sigh that prayed her suffering would soon end, giving help with thoughts above his years.
Their mother, when lucid, refused to get herself into rehabilitation for her problem, leaving her two children to care for themselves; or at worst, the state until she could handle her drinking - not needing to be polite - to not being addicted, which in truth would always be a problem. Though not realizing it at the time, this was for her benefit, not theirs.
Now, as mood dictated, mother knowingly or unknowingly, was taking her anguish, her upset, her loss out on her children.
Sleep is a powerful thing. During rest you heal, you even live, if only in a dream state that feels as it is so real. Sarah was not quite ready to give up the fight. Where she would go, what she would do, were things that only night time could give notice to. Daylight was cruel, cold to the feel, leaving her with another burden to carry.
Her ears rang with the advice she was being given by a voice she knew so well. "Leave me, Sarah, leave me. Go home." Was she going insane, or was her brother speaking to her, advising her, helping her. Maybe her prayer had been answered. Maybe her brother was now at peace. But the answer in her head came out as "No!"
Looking down, he saw two figures lying in a celestial sleep. Bryan looked to have a smile that seemed to illuminate his features. Sarah looked for the entire world to be resting peacefully, which of course couldn't be farther from the truth. Her father stood beside them, giving a heavy smile. His family was now a memory. He had given up everything he loved to help the weak, the needy. Now, his own family was the needy because of his actions. With thoughts of mistakes made, he turned his head, eyeing the ground with tears in his eyes.
At six he woke, his thoughts being to wake his children for school. As he came to life, he turned over to kiss his beloved wife. What in thought was a reality became a nightmare - feeling the hurt, the sorrow as the realization tore at his mind … his very soul. His body was moist, the dampness sinking uncomfortably into the clothes he wore.
"God, no," he thought, as his mind eventually woke to reality. "What have I done...?" pausing, as if the words were spoken by someone else. "God, you can't do this to them. My wrongs are not their punishments."
"Tell me, what were your wrongs?" James looked around in utter shock.
"Tell me, what were your wrongs?"
Looking around for a voice that seemed to speak to him from everywhere, he turned; but no one was in sight. "Who are you?"
"Tell me, what were your wrongs?"
"Stop this! What do you want from me?"
"A simple answer to a simple question. You know who I am, just open your heart and listen."
In his heart of hearts, he knew without further words. "Why would you let this happen?"
"James, I would not, I could not let this happen, but bad things happen that I myself cannot interfere with … do you understand?"
"My children … look at where they are. My son, his life is gone. My daughter, alive, but living the hell of it; but you couldn't interfere? Are you not the one who created all we see and hear? Such a big job for one man, yet two of the smallest on your agenda, you couldn't help? I am the one who caused all this … I was wrong … why can you, the Holy one, not admit your error?"
"James, I cannot ease your guilt, no more than I cannot ease your conscience. You are a good man. What happened is for the guilt and conscience of humanity. People who live by violence - death is a cause, a consequence. You were not the cause; you were just as much a victim as your family."
"But that doesn't help my children, or my wife in any way! Why should they be the ones to suffer for mine and other people's actions?"
As he sat in the kitchen, his wife came in smiling, not knowing the self- inflicted agony of his night. She made breakfast, refilling her husband's coffee cup. Today was to be a journey to look forward to. Today was to be a new beginning.
As Jenny sat to taste her milk, James gave his recital. "Darling, we need a holiday, a holiday with a difference," he said, as a grin anointed his features, "and a home, a family home. No more travelling abroad, at least not to work."
"Daddy, does that mean we are a family again?"
"We have always been a family; but yes, we will all be together."
"Yes!" Sarah shouted, as she ran to give her father the biggest hug in the world … happy, he hugged his daughter in return.
"But where will we live? We can't stay here?" Jenny asked, seemingly breaking the bond between father and daughter.
"England. We could stay at your parents place while we look for a house, or we can live at what was my mum and dad's place. I've never had the heart to sell it."
She wrapped her arms around her James's neck, who was now including the runt of the family, as his sister often referred to him, kissing him gently on the lips, knowing the sacrifice her husband was making. Every child he'd treated, he'd counted them as one of his own. She smiled, if by circumstances he amassed a harem, he would have more children than bed partners.
"What's so funny?"
"Nothing, dear, I'm just happy to get you all to myself."
"James, you have a wife who needs help too."
"But how can I help her … them, I'm dead!"
"Go to your wife, console her, give her a reason to live. The life she has now fallen into cannot sustain her, or your children."
James gazed in wonder at the woman many thought he wasn't worthy of and smiled. Kneeling by her bed, he warmly kissed her lips. Opening her eyes, Jenny looked at her beloved James, then scurried backwards onto the bed in shock.
"JAMES!" With what seemed the same shock emanating from her husband's face, she calmed down.
"It seems I have been given a second chance to support my beloved wife. Please tell me what's wrong? Why are our children not here?" The fact that his only son was dead … the words … his mouth couldn't voice the words.
"I'm sorry, James. I started to drink, I couldn't get away from it, no matter how I tried. But I will, I promise. Let me go and get the children, they will be so happy to see you!"
"Can't you see - they are not here?" Venom rising in his words and his actions.
"You were so drunk, you didn't even know the kids ran away weeks ago!" He spat.
Jenny threw her head on the pillow sobbing violently, hysterically.
Calmed, he brushed his hand lightly on her cheek; and when she raised her head, what he saw was the hurt, the hopelessness as it intensified on his beloved wife's face. "Jenny, you need to be strong, strong if not for you - for the children," pausing as the image of his dead son entered his thoughts … his tears held back by sheer will.
As she calmed, she stared James directly in the eyes, staring as if right through him. "Where are they? I need to go and get them."
"Jenny, first you need to get off the drink; then and only then, can you look after our children." Tears fell from her cheeks as James looked up to the heavens.
"I have to go; but remember, the children will be your light, filling the space that was you and me. Hasn't that always been the case?" Before she could answer, James was gone.
Sarah woke with confusion. She turned her head, fixing her eyes on every sight her mind couldn't recall. "Where am I?" was said, but never spoken.
"You are at my home."
Sarah, again looking in every direction possible, said, "This is not my home?"
"Sarah, look at me. I said, 'my home.'"
"Oh! Who are you?"
A silent giggle, as a warm smile passed the man's lips. "I am the man who hears your prayers."
Just then a giggle could be heard as a small boy ran at Sarah, nearly sending her crashing to the ground. Sarah was again seeing the happy version of Bryan.
"BRYAN!!" Squeezing the life, if you will excuse the pun, from her brother.
"Bryan, oh I've missed you so much."
"I've missed you too. I'm sorry for leaving you alone." As tears ran from his eyes.
"Bryan, I'm the one who should be sorry. I'm sorry for making you come with me," then she broke down as she remembered the part that her mind had tried to hide.
"I'm not sorry, for going with you sis! I love you," he said, kissing Sarah on the cheek as his arms tightly embraced her waist.
"If I can't live at home with you, I'll live here … I will kill me too!" She said with steel, as she gently returned the embrace … feeling humble at how one so young could be so grownup.
A smile that only a father could give crossed the lips of God himself. "You have just made an old man proud, proud that I have had the privilege of meeting two wonderful children, two wonderful human beings."
They saw only compassion as this Holy man spoke to Sarah about her actions, while telling her that the guilt she felt was a burden she should not have to carry. The thought of taking a life, even that of her own got a scolding, leaving an impression that would last a lifetime.
"Sarah, life is built on love, that same love your mum and dad had when they shared it with two little bundles of joy like you and your brother. Losing someone is painful, but to lose a child is a torture beyond words." her look was with sorrow and confusion. "Sarah, a life, a soul … your soul … is sacred … so, you must remember that being alive and sharing love can give great pleasure."
"Love can sometimes be a mystery, but with that same love can come surprises."
Sarah woke with a start; her heart heavy with guilt, a tear clouded her eyes as her mind drifted back to her dream. Reality came to the fore as instinctively she looked down at her sleeping brother to wish him good morning...
"Sarah, I'm hungry." Her initial shock quickly turned to joy.
"BRYAN!!" parted her lips without thought, hugging him so hard that his life, for the second time, was in the balance.
"Sarah! You're hurting me!"
She released her hold looking tearfully at her brother. "What? How? You're dead! Never mind. I'll kill you, if you do that to me again," then hugged him again for dear life.
Bryan looked at his sister with shock. He loved his sister more than life itself, but he couldn't understand what was happening. One minute he was in heaven, now he was back with Sarah, as if nothing had ever happened.
James, shocked … stood in front of God with un-ease.
"James I cannot send you back, but what you did in life will never be forgotten. Your family must live without your presence, but they will be happy. They will have good and bad times as all do, but they will come through it stronger, I promise you."
She now embraced her brother with the love she thought she had taken away from him, her thoughts on how thoughtless she had been to the ones who deserved more love than she had given. Her heart hurt as she relived what were hers and Bryan's last day at home.
"Sarah, you will take your brother to school … you know I'm not well," It had been like this for weeks, her mother telling her what to do, even when to do it … but no more - not today. It seemed, if only to Sarah, that it was happening more and more.
"Why did she have to start drinking?"
"For weeks now, do this, do that - and now…"
Sarah was angry, angry enough to not care if it hurt anybody. "Bryan, are you coming with me!?"
"Where are we going?"
"I don't know, but I'm going. I've had enough. She can't scream at us if we aren't here.
Bryan loved his sister enough to run away with her, even though the action scared him.
Her husband travelling, having to up sticks at a moment's notice, flitting from one part of the world to the other, being left alone while he finished what can only be described as his final tour. Then as a final insult, he left the children without a father, and Jenny without a husband. The stress of doing something that should come naturally, then became hard work … eventually taking its toll. Drinking filled the gap between children asleep, and in the end, loneliness. By the time anyone noticed, she had become an alcoholic, dependent, living even on nothing more than liquid.
Sarah's point of view changed, as she remembered the times of her mum being the only one at home, at least when they were awake.
As all the selfish thoughts and actions hit her like a bang on the head, she cried openly. Her nightmare was a wake-up call. Selfish were her thoughts.
"I love you, Bryan."
At that very moment, her heart gave a warm feeling within her as the Almighty gave a sign of her forgiveness.
Time, child, will come as a relief … accept it as dreams within a life.
Hearing her mum's voice, she looked to the entrance to the cave; seeing her, she ran to her with purpose. "I'm sorry, mum, I'm so, so sorry."
Knowing all-to-well from her own selfish acts, she embraced her daughter with emotion, leaving any words said obsolete.
They say God works in mysterious ways. Maybe a message without words bestowed a thought from a misguided child's mind, a true meaning of what she had, but didn't see. A young mind, though thought to know all, still needs guidance, a path; even if they think they already know where they are going.
James looked down at his beautiful wife, and his two gorgeous children, Sarah and Bryan, and smiled, as a warmth awoke in his heart.
"This I do for the children of my family that you treated as your own."
"Dreams are real… Are they not?"