Year of the Butterfly

Life goes on.. even when you lose someone you love, even when you don't know what to think, how to feel, how to act and what to say. Everything will be okay, is what people like to say, but it won't and you know it. All you can do is bury your grief and hide, and hope on the surface at least life will appear to be normal. Is there any hope?
This is a story of a young girl battling with the loss of her father. Accompany her on a journey of self-discovery and misadventure as she negotiates her way through bereavement and processes the unanswered questions. Along the way, there are dreams, visions and schemes, at least one golden urn and a kidnapping. Her story is about a metamorphosis from pain into renewal and growth. Her destination is a place of hope with a promise of healing.

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17. All that glitters

Mack is rifling through their backpack and takes out the notepad and pen they brought along. He laughs out loud and shakes his head. "You are too good to be true. You even brought me this so I could make some notes! If I’d known kidnapping was so easy... "What are you going to do with us?" He's wagging his finger at her. "Hang on a second, little lady. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ve got to talk business. You can see we've made you very comfortable, so now it's your turn to give us a little bit of information. About the golden vase--" "What have you done with it?" Mack just glares at her. "As I said before I was so rudely interrupted, does your mom have anything else like that in your house?" Silence. He gets up quickly, in a flash he's yanked Lisa from the sofa and returns to his chair with her thrown across his lap. He takes out his knife and barks at the other girl. "Don't test me, girly! Every time I have to ask you again, I’ll make a hole in your baby sister. Now, talk!" Lisa howls with fear and kicks her legs viciously in the air. Mack slaps her hard on her behind. "And you, shut up and stop moving. I can't hold my knife still if you move so much. I’m waiting, Minnie." He's got a weird smile plastered on his face. "Okay, I’ll tell you... No, there's nothing else like it in the house. I told Mommy that thing was a bad idea." "Ah! My bad luck! Well what else then, Minnie? Tell me about mommy's jewellery." "She’s got some gold necklaces, one with a pearl on it and another one with small diamonds." "Ooh! Diamonds! I like, I like. And? Come on, brag a bit! What have you guys got that's cool?" He's making notes as the young girl describes to him every piece of jewellery she can remember her mother owning, and her big sisters too. He asks her about ornaments, paintings, cars, bicycles, electronic equipment, the sports equipment they have in the garage and the yard, and he even wants to know if her mother's got any expensive designer brand handbags, shoes, sunglasses and clothes. After a while, she can't think of anything more to tell him and he lets Lisa go. They hug each other tightly and watch Mack as he sits back looking at his long list and emits a long whistle. "Oh yes! Ladies, you've done me proud. Thank you for your cooperation. Whitey!" As soon as he arrives, Mack throws him the pen and notepad. "My handwriting's a scrawl. My daddy always said I should've been a doctor. I want you to print out that list of goodies in your best handwriting and at the bottom of the list, draw a line and write down the address of that spot at the harbour where we used to go fishing. Remember it? It’s easy enough to find, I think, and yet secluded enough for us to pick up our loot unseen! I amaze myself sometimes." Mack sighs happily and walks out of the room, shouting one last instruction at Whitey. "You can bring in the TV from my room for them to watch."

Whitey stayed with them the whole day. They were alone only once when they used the bathroom and then Whitey decided they should go one at a time; so they had no chance to speak to each other at all. He watched them like a hawk and any time they dared whisper something, he threatened them into silence. They had no choice but to do as they were told and not risk angering the kidnappers. They were both going crazy wondering what was going on at home, what their mother must be thinking. But all they could do was sit on that sofa and watch the television. Whitey turned on the cartoons, so at least they enjoyed a moment of distraction, but as soon as one of the others entered the room and glared at them, they got tense all over again and remembered where they were. The day passed slowly and they dozed off a few times out of boredom and because fear had exhausted them. Whitey brought them food and sat with them, passively drinking beers and watching TV. Not once did he speak even a word to them. He communicated mostly with grunts, gestures, bangs on the bathroom door and looks. He always got one of the others to sit with them when he went off to do something. Some time in the late afternoon, the other guys went out with the yellow car and came back without Barney a few hours later. The only thing they said to Whitey on their way to the back of the house was that they had "left the mother a little present in her mailbox"...

After a while, the girls heard Mack and Skinny talking and laughing loudly in the other room, sometimes even singing. The louder they got, the harder Whitey sighed and glared at the girls. They could only look at each other in silence and wonder what was going on. Whitey kept looking towards the other room and sighing, until he got up and quickly walked over there. The girls followed him with their eyes, but he shot them a dark angry look; so they looked away and cowered back under the blanket. He came back with a beer and a small glass containing clear liquid and settled back into his chair in front of the TV. This happened again and again, and each time Whitey took longer to return to the living room. It wasn't long before his surly face wore a constant grin. It was on the 7th visit to the back room that he didn't come back at all and it took the girls half an hour to realise that he wasn't coming back. His voice couldn't be heard in the other room, but that's because Whitey does not appear to be very talkative in general. However, this made it difficult for the girls to feel safe enough to venture a whisper because he could be on his way back at any minute. Finally, one of them spoke, very hesitantly, in the softest possible, almost inaudible little whisper. "Is it safe?"

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