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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23. No way out

The young girl drags herself back to the living room after finding that all the doors to both front rooms have been locked and the living room windows don't open widely enough. She sighs heavily. She’s at least grateful that she said nothing to Lisa about her plan because she can't bear dashing her little sister's hopes yet again. They’ll have to stick to their original, dangerous plan. She may have told Lisa to be brave but she doesn't even know if she'll be able to do it herself. It is unbearable not knowing what's going to happen next, what the gang's plan is, but she knows that asking too many questions could cause problems for her. And so they sit...

They've been sitting like this on the sofa for a few hours now that their kidnappers are coming back into the house one by one. In the living room, Barney looks nervous and barely looks at the girls, but whenever he does, he looks as if he wants to cry. Today he’s wearing a purple tracksuit and a green cap. If the girls weren't so scared and worried, they'd laugh at his obsession with green and purple. Barney is now following Skinny around, talking agitatedly while Skinny is trying his best to ignore him. Into the kitchen and back, until Barney makes the mistake of pulling at Skinny's arm as he is trying to bite into his sandwich. "Hey, grow up! You wanted in on this; now get with the programme! We’re doing it and that's it. Deal with it!" He yanks his hand away and the sandwich goes flying. "See what you did now!" The girls are terrified to see Skinny so angry. It’s as if he has expanded and although Barney is taller than him, Skinny makes him look like a mouse. He pushes Barney hard so that he goes sprawling onto the floor, but Barney isn't taking this lying down. He jumps up and bares his teeth. He’s pounding at Skinny's big stomach with his fists and Skinny keeps pushing him away. The girls are screaming now and the noise brings Whitey and Mack into the room. "What the hell is going on here?" Soon all that can be heard are fists flying and punching all over the place. The girls are stunned. In a matter of minutes, the fight is over and both Barney and Skinny have bleeding lips. "I don't have time for this nonsense! If you want to behave like this, go do it somewhere else!" Barney and Skinny are just glaring at each other until Skinny explains why they're fighting. And it's got nothing to do with his sandwich...

***

It’s dark in here and the space is a lot smaller than I imagined. So much for our dangerous plan to escape. Mack really isn't taking any chances with us. At least Whitey was careful when he put us into the boot of the yellow car, and he put a blanket and some pillows on the floor of the boot. It isn't the space or the smell in here that's the problem. It’s where they are taking us that I’m worried about. Lisa started crying the moment the boot door closed on us but now she's just quiet. I told her that when the car starts moving, we have to listen very carefully to the sounds along the way, just in case that can help us figure out the way we're going or where we are. Of course I don't believe a word I said to her, but I had to think of something to keep her busy. I keep playing that conversation over and over in my head - the one the kidnappers had once the fight between Barney and Skinny was broken up. Skinny told Mack that Barney had found out about their plans for us. Barney kept saying that it wasn't part of their original plan. They were going to let us go once Mommy gave them everything they've asked for. Nobody said anything about dumping kids in the middle of nowhere. Mack growled at him like a lion or a bear or some kind of animal like that. Barney has been so mean to us from day one that I can't believe he stuck up for us. He said that something bad could happen to us out there on our own and then the police would blame it on them, and he didn't want to have any part of that. Mack kept telling him to shut up while his face grew wilder and wilder. Whitey took us to the bathroom and closed the door behind us, but I could still hear them arguing. I heard thumping sounds, like somebody was pushing or hitting somebody else, and lots of grunting coming from the living room. Then Mack shouted at Barney that he's either with them or he's with us, and that he can take us home safely right now if he wants to and explain to the police what he was doing with us all this time. Mack said that they wouldn't visit him in prison, so he shouldn't hold his breath. Barney’s answer sounded weird, like he was half crying, half shouting. "We agreed that we wouldn't hurt them! So why did you give me such a hard time for smacking the kid?" The rest of it was muffled…

What did Barney find out that was so terrible? It’s so confusing! One minute there's Mack, scaring me to death, and the next minute there's Whitey being nice to us. And now Barney. What are they up to? "Sis, have you heard anything?" I can't see her face but I know she's probably frowning. "Besides cars, no; nothing special." We could be anywhere really. "Well, maybe it won't matter. We’ll see when they take us out of here." Lisa is worming herself into me and she's holding tightly onto me. "Maybe we should pray, huh?" She's nodding. Here goes. "Dear Jesus, you are the only one who knows where we are. Please help us. We know that sometimes we are bad - we do bad things or think bad things, but if you can forgive us our sins, that would be really nice. We just want to go back home to Mommy so that she doesn't have to worry about us so much. I’m sorry I got Sis into this and I pray that you will give me the chance to make things right. Please save us and I promise to be a good girl from now on--" "And stop keeping secrets from Mommy!" Sigh. "Yes, and that too. We’ll do our best, Jesus. Bless our Mommy and our Daddy in heaven, our sisters and all our family; bless us and all the little children who need you. Amen." "Amen." I feel a little bit better. "I have to tell you something..." Lisa sounds guilty. "Please don't get mad at me!" "What is it, Sis?" "Remember when you went to open the bedroom window so we could escape, and you told me to go on looking for the urn in Mack’s room? I didn't tell you..." "Sis, why are you crying? What’s the matter?" "I’m sorry! I was s-scared! I f-found a shoebox on the floor of the wardrobe in Mack’s room." "And?" "It was Daddy's urn." "What! Why didn't you--" "I’m s-sorry! I thought if we opened it up, Daddy's ashes wouldn't be in there because they threw them away!" Lisa is crying hard now and nothing I say can make her feel better. I understand anyway. That’s what we've all been worried about since the urn got stolen. I don't care about the gold; I just want the ashes back. I think that's what Daddy was trying to tell me in my dream. "Do you remember what that box looked like?" She nods and stops crying. "Good, don't forget it. You never know." You never know...

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