Rufus wakes to the sharp pains of cramp in his legs and a gnawing ache in his backbone. He feels chilled and stiff but is reluctant to shift position because then he will need to admit that he really is awake. His current sleeping place is narrow and uncomfortable but his dreams contain a wide soft bed with crisp clean sheets. In that peaceful faraway place he wakes with the sun's morning rays gently caressing and soothing him whispering freedom and hope.
No more dreamtime now, Rufus sits up cautiously massaging the thin wasted muscles in his aching calves. The shackles are loose around his bony ankle bone. A long time ago they were tight causing sores.
Now he touches the calloused scars thoughtfully. How long has he been in the perpetual twilight of this tiny windowless room?
He long since stopped recording the days of his captivity even if he had the will, his broken and softened fingernails would no longer scratch visible marks on the mouldy walls dripping with damp.
The last date fixed in his mind was the day of his kidnap, hauled roughly from his car by armed men, headscarves covering their faces .He was quickly blindfolded and transported into this world of twilight, hearing occasional snatches of news items from his captors’ radio.
In another country Kristy is lying awake in the darkness thinking and waiting for the first glimmer of light to stream through her curtains and onto the bed. Night is always the loneliest time. Daytime is busy with the children and Kristy has lots of support from her church. They have truly become her extended family. She thinks back to her pastor’s wife holding her hand through the long hours in the labour ward . Brad was born only 3 months after Rufus was kidnapped ,whenshe was still in shock and disbelief at losing one family member and gaining another much smaller dependant one. Over the years the church members have helped so much. Men tending to practical things like mending taps, cutting grass and sorting the boiler. Teenagers babysit so she can go to housegroup or a meal with friends. The older folks pop round with a meal or a little knitted clothes for Sarah’s collection of dolls.
“Never give up hope , keep praying.” Kirsty reads The words on the picture at the end of their wide soft bed.
“Morning, my darling Rufus, lets do our daily reading together” reaching for her bible and the battered red leather devotional book with a reading for every day of the year. She has been through this several times now since Rufus disappeared and reading aloud brings her comfort and strength to face another day without him.
As she finishes Brad is shuffling and singing in his cot. In two weeks it will be his third birthday, a sturdy lively boy with a placid personality. Sarah, his big sister is seven with her dads auburn hair and green eyes, a quiet serious girl ,protective and motherly with Brad. Frequently Kristy sees Sarah sitting talking solemnly to Brad about their Daddy, two little heads bent over the photo album or drawing pictures. Sarah writes ‘Sarah Elizabeth Furnell ‘ and ‘Bradley Rufus Furnell’ carefully on each item and places them in a decorated shoebox marked ‘Daddy’ .
’“Never give up hope , keep praying.” Kirsty repeats as she places her feet into her slippers and wraps her robe around her shoulders before going to see to her children
The sun is already high and the heat oppressive In a small dusty town. Where Kamal signs and pushes aside the letter, stubs out the cigarette in the dirty ashtray and reaches to drain the last dregs of coffee. Sometimes he gets chest pains and He knows should see the doctor but does not want to be told to stop smoking and change his diet.
He places the letter in an envelope and gestures impatiently to the young man standing near the door.
“The decision is made be sure to deliver this immediately to Navir and call that lazy Bashir to bring fresh coffee.”
Kamal moves back to his paperwork it is of no interest to him that for one family their twilight life is drawing to an end.
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