Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: REFUGE (08/29/19)
- TITLE: CYARA
By Corinne Smelker
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ADD TO MY FAVORITES
â€œShush, itâ€™s ok. Remember how excited you were? And once you get there, you know youâ€™ll have fun.â€
I watched this girl, older than me, being comforted by her mother.
Not want to go? I thought. How could that be?
As soon as Bronwyn, our team leader, motioned for our group I almost bounded on to the bus, forgetting all about the scene Iâ€™d just witnessed. No crying for me! I was beyond excited to go.
A few minutes later the bus was full of about one-hundred 10-13-year oldâ€™s, a few adults, and a handful of teenagers, our group leaders. Some of the kids were still sniveling, but I ignored them as the bus lumbered away from the school and headed towards the lodge.
â€œDad?â€ I cautiously approached my father. I had to time things just right. Not drunk enough and heâ€™d get belligerent, and Iâ€™d be lucky to escape with just a smack to the face; too drunk and heâ€™d not remember, and then later hit me for telling lies.
It looked like I had found the sweet spot. Just buzzed enough to be nice. He blearily looked up from his book, whisky glass dangling from his hand. â€œWhat do you want?â€
â€œThereâ€™s a camp that the Christian Student Association at school is offering this summer. Itâ€™s a week long and itâ€™s R60 for the whole week.â€ I stumbled over my words, trying to get the facts out before I got a flat-out no.
â€œChristian camp? Are you *$#@% me? No way!â€
â€œBut Dad, itâ€™s in the summer. Iâ€™d be gone five full days.â€ Let him focus on me being gone, not the Christian part, please!
My mother interjected, something she seldom did. â€œCharles, that actually sounds nice. Weâ€™d be rid of her for a week.â€
She looked meaningfully at my father. They had made no bones about the fact that I was a burden to them, stunting their ability to drink themselves into oblivion every night and weekend.
â€œIf you say it that wayâ€¦â€ my father trailed off. Impatiently he gestured, â€œWhereâ€™s the form? Come on! Give me the *$(@&$ form!â€
I quickly handed it over, excitement pounding in my chest. But I wasnâ€™t home free yet. â€œI need the money too, dad.â€
â€œGet me my wallet,â€ he demanded.
I ran to get it, hope singing in my heart. I handed it over and he pulled out three 20 Rand notes. â€œMake sure the teacher in charge gets this, ok?â€
Leaning my head back in the seat, I couldnâ€™t contain my smile as I contemplated a week with no responsibilities. A week free from cleaning the ashtrays, making the morning coffee and tea, rousing my parents and making sure they were ready to leave the house. A week free from mixing their drinks, and cleaning them up when they passed out. A week of not having to care for anyone but myself.
I swayed violently as the bus turned onto a dirt road. One of the adults, Ms. Sumter, stood. â€œRight everyone. We are almost there. When we get off the bus we will all meet at the chapel and go over room assignments.â€
As she spoke the bus drove under a high wrought-iron arch, with the letters C Y A R A. spelt out.
â€œWelcome to KY-ARA,â€ Ms. Sumter announced as the bus slowed.
â€œDoes it mean anything?â€ I queried Bronwyn as we got off. Me, a lover of words, had never heard the word CYARA.
â€œItâ€™s from the Bible.â€
â€œOK,â€ I said. I didnâ€™t have a Bible. One wasnâ€™t allowed in my house.
â€œYeah, itâ€™s from the book of Mark,â€ Mark has a book? â€œAnd it stands for Come Ye And Rest Awhileâ€.
Rest. A place of peace and quiet â€“ away from my parents for a whole week. That sounded like heaven.
Mark 6:31 (KJV) Come ye â€¦apartâ€¦ rest awhile.
CYARA still runs camps, and was my refuge for many years - https://cyaralodge.co.za/
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