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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29. Believing without seeing

Day 7. "If Daddy was really here, then why couldn't we see him?" We've been awake for a while now and we're quietly talking about the last 2 nights on the boat. Lisa has some difficult questions that I don't know the answers to but if I believe it then I should try to explain to her why I do. "Okay, Sis, do you believe in angels?" "Yes, I do." "Can you see them?" "Um, I don't think I’ve ever seen one." "But you still believe there are angels. What about Jesus? You believe in Jesus, right? But have you ever seen him?" She's shaking her head. "See? I didn't know this before but Aunty Mary says lots of people believe that when you die, you go to heaven. But it's not your own body that goes to heaven. It’s that part of you inside, the part that you can't see, that goes to heaven. Do you know what I mean?" "Do you mean we all become ghosts when we die?" "Mm, I don't know if we become ghosts. Well, I’m not sure I know what a ghost is, to be honest. I always thought a ghost was something scary, but we weren't scared last night, were we?" "No, I wasn't any more after you said it was Daddy come to save us… So how’s Daddy supposed to save us if he doesn't have his hands and his feet and body parts any more?” Sigh. "Sis, I wish I knew what to tell you. Last night and the night before, when all that stuff happened, you understand that none of us in here did those things, right? So, it had to have been something or someone, well, invisible. I can’t explain it but I just believe that these things were happening to help us somehow. I don't know. I know I’m not making any sense..." "I think Jesus is helping us because we prayed and asked for help. Jesus knows that we don't have a Daddy any more, so he has to help us instead of Daddy." Sigh. Maybe Lisa is right. All I know is that we lost the urn and suddenly we are so close to Daddy's ashes – I have to believe this is the reason Daddy told me in a dream to find him. I’ve bitten my fingernails halfway down worrying about what the mullet gang's planning to do with this loot. I’m hoping that they don't take the shoebox off the boat until Lisa and I can either escape or be saved. We can't give up hope!

The young girl wasn't far off the mark. The spooky events of those last 2 nights had rattled 3 of the gang members so much that they all refused to spend the night on the boat by themselves. The only way around that was when Mack suggested they all stay onboard together. All 4 of them were jumpy and grumpy, and took their nervousness out on the girls. When one wanted to use the toilet, she got yanked up off the floor and shoved into the bathroom. At mealtimes, they got their food thrown at them with a growl. They weren't allowed to read and were constantly told to be quiet. It was becoming scary for them again. Their only relief came when Mack ordered the bottles of beer to be opened. Before long, the mullet gang had forgotten all their ghostly worries and celebrated their upcoming victory. There was one more day left before the big drop-off. Mack had left instructions for the girls' mother to leave the money in black refuse bags on a deserted beach, a short distance out of town. Once they had picked up the money and counted it, they would drop the girls off at a location Mack would only tell her about later. She wanted proof that her children were still all right and he promised to give her that, but today there was to be no phone conversation between mother and daughters. Mack called this the confirmation of trust. She didn't have a choice anyway.

The guys were having a merry old time around the table, playing cards, drinking and cursing, and mostly ignoring the girls. Only now and then did Skinny sneak a glance at the pile of loot under the sheet, but it didn't move an inch all day. The girls were becoming more restless as the night wore on. What’s going to happen tomorrow? Nothing their kidnappers said could be believed. Whether she was trying to distract Lisa or herself, the young girl reminded her sister that they were also on a mission: to save their father's ashes. They couldn't save his life, so this was the least they could do. "Mommy’s right when she says that Daddy gave us so much. Now it's our turn to do something for him, the first chance we get." Lisa nodded bravely and tried her best to believe that they will get that chance, but it was hard. "I know, but they might think they should do something bad with us because we've seen their faces. What if..." "Don’t think that, Sis! The worst thing they will do is leave us somewhere we don't know, so it'll take a long time for us to get home, but they won't hurt us. They wouldn't dare!" "I wonder if Daddy knew he was going to die." That came out of nowhere. It stopped the young girl in her tracks and left a buzzing in her ears. "What?" "I mean Daddy knew he was sick, didn't he? He had to think about it sometimes..." "I don’t think we'll ever know what Daddy was thinking when he was sick. Not even Mommy knows. I wish I did and I wish I could ask him, but..." They both went quiet for a while. The young girl swallowed hard and when she spoke again, it sounded like she was trying not to cry. "I think it was probably really scary for Daddy to be sick and know that he might die, but we know that Daddy never quit fighting. Everybody said that Daddy didn't want to die and he never gave up. So we shouldn't either." "Yeah, we'll only be scared when we know for sure we've got no way out." "Exactly! Don’t worry before it's necessary! Otherwise we’ll end up worrying for nothing and get grey hairs."

Skinny got up to go to the bathroom and barked at them. "Looks like our sheet is at peace tonight, girls. That exorcism worked wonders! Ha ha ha!" The girls didn't understand him but hugged each other, as if to protect each other from Skinny's nasty glare. "Hmm, he wasn't laughing like that 2 nights ago! I’d like to punch him--" "Shh! You can't punch him - he's a fat monster! How are we going to get past these guys? They never leave us alone and they're all bigger and stronger than us." "Daddy would tell us to stay calm and think clearly: what are their weak spots? And he would tell us to believe." "Yes, and he would tell us to be very quiet." "You’re right. They have to forget we're here." The young girl giggled. "I can't believe Mommy told me to fight!" "When did she say that?" "That first time Mack called her, remember? She told me to scratch out his eyes and pull his hair, if he tries to hurt me." "Wow! Mommy always tells us it's bad to fight." "Well, Sis, if we get the chance, you and I will have to fight. I’ve bitten down all my fingernails, but you've still got yours. Use them if you need to. Now’s not the time to worry about acting ladylike!" And that is how the two brave sisters passed the night, thinking positively and hoping for the best. For all their planning and the gang's too, nobody could have predicted what would happen the next day. One good thing was that they found in each other someone who, as Josie from Gauteng had said long ago, would back her sister up if she was in trouble. And that might be the only thing that can save them.

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