The next few days were anxious times. We scanned the countryside expecting the GS Squad to turn up en-masse and arrest us. There was a balcony running around the top of the lighthouse and we spent a lot of the daylight time out there in the open air looking out. It was a quiet part of the coastline and very few vehicles came our way. When they did we held our breath for the longest time, visibly sighing when it disappeared down the road.
Jacqueline turned up every day, each time in a different vehicle. The first time she brought us new clothing, which was timely as we were beginning to smell. That was a happy day as we all took turns in the shower before changing into the fresh smelling clothes. She warned us to continue keeping a low profile and not drawing attention to ourselves. There had been widespread arrests in the past couple of days as the Govians arrested various members. Apparently according to Auntie, we were high on their hit list but so far they didn’t know where we were.
Sinead’s body had been given back to her parents and the funeral was due to take place the next day. Jacqueline firmly told me that her parents didn’t want me anywhere near the church. I sensed the grief and anger that came with the statement. They’d never liked me and I knew they tried to pull her away from me.
At nights I sat up on the balcony looking out to sea, often Zee would sit with me and we’d huddle together for comfort. I rarely spoke, preferring the quiet. I’d close my eyes and imagine Sinead’s voice in my head. I’d smile at the thought but then the tears would start again as the realisation hit me that I’d never hear her voice again. Zee was my constant companion, at the beginning the others would take it in turns to stay with me, I guess they were worried that I’d attempt to take my own life, but their spells became shorter. Whether they got tired of my non communicative state I didn’t know. Zee would talk to me, tell me about her life in Iowa, little nuggets of information that I’m afraid to say washed over me.
Towards the end of the second day, Prez was getting a little stir crazy, she felt trapped in the close confines of the lighthouse building. The sun was setting as I sat on the little balcony, my eyes looking out to sea, my mind lost in memories when the inevitable storm took root downstairs. The smashing of glass brought me back from the past into the the present with a jolt. Standing up I looked over the side of the balcony, my first thoughts being the Gove Squad had arrived. I heard shouting downstairs and then the unmistakeable voice of Prez echoed up the tower,
‘We’re sat here like lame ducks waiting to be shot or captured’ she shouted, ‘why the f*** should I just sit around, I want to hurt them’
The shouting went on until I could stand it no longer. My normal calm inner self erupted much like Sinead used to do when she was agitated. I could stand it no longer. I tore down the stairs using every expletive that I could do and tore through the door, slamming it to good effect behind me. The noise inside the lighthouse stopped as I slammed the door. Prez obviously silenced by my actions.
I walked towards the cliff, my footsteps sure and deliberate. I stopped at the edge. I swayed gently in the wind. I had no desire to end my life there and then, maybe in due course but not now. The need for revenge was coursing through my veins every bit as much as Prez and Ahlaam. I fixed my gazed out to sea and stared towards the horizon. Somewhere out there was France. I imagined that I could see the coast line. France spelt freedom from tyranny, a chance of a new life without the fear of being intellectually stifled. I wondered whether I’d have been better heading with Sinead over there, she’d still be alive. Maybe we could have journeyed to her beloved Japan where she would have been so happy. However, I had to stay and try to fight this tyrannical regime and it had cost me the one I loved and valued over everyone else.
My fists clenched tight as I thought of Gove and his followers. I wanted him to suffer for his policies every much as I had suffered with the loss of Sinead. Could he even imagine what it means to lose the person that you treasure most in all the world? Did he know the distress he caused by his policies, did he even care sat in his ivory towers? I would make damn sure that he knew, he wasn’t going to get away with the violence that his followers did in his name. We should all be free to express ourselves in everyway that we want, as long as we didn’t infringe upon the rights and free speech of others.
My head began to spin a bit, maybe it was the lack of food and sleep but I had to catch myself from losing my footing on the grassy edge of the cliff. I stood back a few feet and continued to fix my glare at the horizon. Plans and ideas ran though my brain, ways I could fight back and cause Gove’s family as much pain as he had caused me. Some were implausible but others took root in my mind like seeds thrown into a field.
I wandered along the cliff edge feeling the breeze against my face, the natural forces gently awakening my bodies senses, slowly bringing life and sense back into my fuddled brain. The sun was high in the sky and above the call of the seagulls I could hear a gentle buzz of crickets in the long grass behind me. It would have been so nice to walk along here with Sinead, to experience this moment together. Sadness tinged the moment. I sighed, resigned to never seeing her again. I felt movement behind me and slowly turned, not really wanting to take my eyes from the tranquillity of the view and return it to life.
My eyes focussed on Zee stood before me. She had a worried look on her face which dispelled a little when I smiled.
“Are you OK?” she asked, her mid western accent quite pronounced.
I nodded, not really wanting to speak and turned my head back towards the sea wanting a few more moments of peaceful thoughts. I shut my eyes trying to take a mental picture of the scene. Standing still for a few moments I breathed in the air, the freshness of the salt purging my lungs.
‘Fancy a walk?’ I asked Zee finally turning back towards her.
I saw her nod and taking that as an okay, I started off along the cliff path heading west. She walked beside me keeping pace with my longer strides. After five minutes I slowed, more of my tension ebbing away. I looked to my side and caught Zee looking sideways at me.
‘Sorry, not much company today” I said smiling.
‘it’s OK’ she replied, ‘you never were’
I laughed, the first time I’d done that in days. I held my hand out and took hers in mine. We walked at a more leisurely pace from that moment talking about before all this had happened. Even though we were very close online, we never really talked about our families and so as we wandered hand in hand she told me about her sister and her life in Iowa. The time flew and we walked on oblivious to the world around us.
We might have walked on forever if we didn’t start to get back to civilisation. Coming towards us on the path was a couple walking dogs. I panicked slightly and ducked behind a wall into a small wood dragging Zee with me. I could have sworn that they would have spotted us or at least heard my heart pounding. We knelt close together both slightly breathless as we waited for them to pass. After a while we heard the dogs further up the path. I bobbed up and saw them in the distance turning away from the cliff path and heading inland.
‘It’s Ok’ I whispered still stood up.
Zee popped up next to me, a look of excitement and apprehension on her face as she watched the couple’s backs disappeared behind a wall.
I looked down at her face, felt I could feel her heart beat through our clothes so close we were stood, her breath against my neck. A smile appeared on her face as we stood looking at each other. I sensed a change in our interaction, a junction we’d reached. Our faces were so close and the tension filled the air between us.
I leant down and placed my lips tenderly on hers feeling the moisture of her lips on mine. I felt them push back on mine. We stood together for what seemed like ages. My heart was running so fast, the anticipation before, the actual kiss and the aftermath. I stood searching her eyes for a response, for a sign of what to do next. Time seemed to stand still.
I leant in again placing my lips once again against hers. This time there was more passion between us as our lips moulded together and I put my arms around her pulling her closer feelings her hands on my back. This time the kiss went on, our lips slightly open moving as one. We eventually broke apart both of us a little breathless and smiling.
I stroked her cheek and moved back in to kiss her again. This time however she moved her lips away and I ended up making contact with her ear. I pulled away puzzled. One minute ago we’d been kissing and I was pretty sure she’d liked it as much as I had. I looked at her in confusion.
There was an awkwardness for a moment as we stood looking at the floor, in fact anywhere but into each others eyes, each avoiding the other. The wind started to pick up and I shuddered slightly.
‘Sorry,’ I said after a while
‘it’s Ok, it’s not that I didn’t like it, it’s more…’ she said pausing and looking at me.
‘Go on ..’ I said quietly.
‘Well are you in the right place to start a relationship? You’ve just gone through all that. Two days ago you were going to marry Sinead and now you’re kissing me. It doesn’t seem right. I don’t want to someone you turn to and then realise it wasn’t right. I’m not that sort of girl. Right now you can’t give me a commitment and I doubt that I can. ’
I looked from the floor into her eyes. The excitement of contact felt wrong now, my mind lurched. What had I been thinking of?
‘Sorry, it just felt natural.’
She hesitated and looked deeply into my eyes as if searching for something.
‘I know,’ she said biting her lip a little, ‘me too but it needs to be for the right reasons, not that you’re missing Sinead.’
‘Sorry,’ I said, ‘but it’s not just that, it’s more, you know you mean …’
I stopped as she placed her fingers over my lips to silence me.
‘Don’t keep saying you’re sorry all the time. I understand, I understand completely,’ Zee replied.
We stood opposite each other for a few moments in silence. I’d stepped over the line and didn’t know quite how to get back. I relied on Zee so much, I guess I always had. I hated the thought she might now be distant, that I’d be completely alone. I could take her just being a friend.
As if she could read my mind she took my hand.
‘Look Tom, I guess we don’t know what the future holds. Let’s not rush anything even though it feels like we haven’t got much time left. Maybe see what develops.’
I must have looked vacant because she sighed with exasperation.
‘Well I’m not ruling out anything later, just not now. OK ?’, she said smiling.
I smiled back.
‘And for god’s sake if anything does happen let’s try to keep it a secret…’ she said
We started to walk back and gradually fell back into normal conversation, the awkwardness vanishing as we got closer to the lighthouse.