I had a painful night; every time I turned over I knocked my nose. Painkillers helped but my airways were severely restricted because of the broken nose. I woke early as usual and left the three of them asleep. It was a grey day a little drizzle was falling. The sea had disappeared; a fret covered the bay masking everything in a uniform grey. It was a grim start. Our plans might be scuppered if the weather didn't get better.
After a shower, where I managed to clear up the bits of blood that Lily had missed, I looked in the mirror made me see the true horror of my injury. I could see the break in the bone had caused it too move to the side. A blur bruise was starting to appear that was spreading slowly across my face. I smiled slightly at the damage she had done, the rage she must have felt. I was glad they were joining me, being with someone at that time would help calm the nerves. The sacrifice they were prepared to make to help me made me feel humble.
It wasn't long before the sun cut through burning the fret further and further out to sea. The funerals were set to happen at two in the afternoon. We'd discussed what we wanted to do to mark them, we could have gone to the church just the other side of the country park, but we wanted to be alone in our thoughts, able to grieve with just the four of us.
We wandered down to the beach late in the morning taking a picnic. All the girls had worn the simple white dresses they'd bought, similar to what they'd worn for the wedding. They'd tied a red scarf around their waists to signify the loss of Prez, Ahlaam and Sinead. I wore a white shirt and trousers together with the same scarf. It would be totally impractical but we wanted to signify the innocence and blood that had been spilt. Zee carried her guitar down. I'd heard her singing and playing happily on the cliff top all morning. She'd played a mixture of songs I knew and some new ones, songs I'd never heard before that she'd written.
We wandered along the beach drawing glances from the few people who were walking their dogs. Hand in hand we negotiated the rocks and made our way to the end of the Brigg.
We sat quietly on the rocks talking about the last few weeks, little memories of Ahlaam and Prez flooding back to our heads. It wasn't a time to be sad; it was a time to celebrate their lives, to remember the great sacrifice that they had made. As the clock ticked down towards two o'clock we thought of their families gathering in the churches, wondering how many people would attend.
My wristband beeped just before two o'clock and we stood at the side of the sea. At exactly two o'clock I pressed my band and the words we had recorded came out. We held hands and listened to our voices again. At the funerals this message was being played and possibly at any demonstrations that were taking place. The families had asked us to do it as we’d been the ones who’d spent the last few weeks with them. It had been hard to write between us, we were all writers but this was the most difficult and emotional piece any of us had ever contemplated writing.
'Prez and Ahlaam weren't terrorists. They were teenagers who cared so much about freedom, liberty and justice that they were prepared to give up their lives to fight against a draconian government that didn't believe in free speech. They weren't bloodthirsty mercenaries who craved violence and were attacking the state. They just wanted the next generation to be able to have the freedom to read and write whatever they wanted, to be able to express themselves in whatever manner they wish.'
'Prez and Ahlaam never accepted that they should be shackled by a government that wanted to censor free thought. They were beautiful, talented and creative people; their lives and words enriched others. I hope that one day they will be given the credit that they deserve. To know them was to love them.'
'We were with them when they died, when they were brutally murdered by a government hell-bent on ruling its people with force and violence. We hope that their sacrifice can be a beacon for change, a shining pure white light that will bring people to realise that they can fight against tyranny. This country once fought a war against a tyrannical leader who sought to use racial stereotyping and freedom of thought to rule. That leader was defeated by the entire world coming against him, We urge not just the English to question how this can happen but we call on the governments of the world to put pressure on the Govian rulers to relax these measures.’
‘But today spare a thought for Ahlaam, Prez, Sinead, Meg and the many more that this government has cut dead in their youth. Please come with us and make sure that we never ever have to suffer death again’
‘Prez and Sinead, we salute you’
The message finished and we cast flowers into the ocean, violets and red roses for Prez, Lily’s ironically for Ahlaam. Zee started strumming her guitar and started singing with a beautiful voice.
‘Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high
And the dreams that you dreamed of once in a lullaby
Oh somewhere over the rainbow
And the dreams that you dreamed of dreams
Really do come true’
By the end of it we were blubbering wrecks, hanging on to each other. The emotions of the day getting to us far more than what we might think they would. It was like losing them all over again, except we still felt their presence in our midst. We noticed a few curious people watching us from a short distance. At first we wondered whether they were plain clothes GS but they wandered over and started to talk to us. They told us how they had heard about Prez, Ahlaam and Sinead and were horrified by what had happened. We didn’t tell them who we were, maybe they’d guessed but they wished us luck and hoped that soon this government would soon be brought to task. They could see our distress and after a few minutes wandered off down the headland.
Later that evening we were sat at the bottom of the cliffs. We’d lit a campfire in the rocks and were sat round talking. My wrist went off and I saw Jacqueline was calling. I answered putting her on speaker.
‘I hope you had a quiet day,’ she said, ‘sorry you couldn’t come to the funeral but we were right they were looking for you. There were huge crowds in the West Midlands for Ahlaam. When they read your message out you could see the anger rise, GS Goons tried to stop it being played but people stopped them All over the country there have been huge marches and rallies in every major town and city. One in London nearly turned into a riot until an author; Anthony McGowan, stood up and asked the crowds to remember to act peacefully. In the US at Prez’s funeral the Secretary of State turned up to pay his respects and there have been massive crowds protesting outside all the English embassies around the world.’
‘There is immense pressure on the government now to stop and resign. I’m not sure your stunt is needed now.’
I felt Zees hand take mine as Jacqueline was obviously waiting for a reply.
‘I’m still doing it Jacqueline, one final act may take us across the finishing line’
I felt Zee squeeze my hand.
‘Me too’ Zee said. I smiled
‘We’re in as well Jacqueline,’ Crissy said looking across at me
‘Well if you’re sure?’ the wrist said, ‘I’ll leave the package, well packages now at a services just outside Ipswich. I’ve got you front row seats for when the Govian leader talks. I thought the others would come along with you. Meet me outside the hall at 6pm and I’ll make sure you get through security. See you then’
It was quiet when she left. I looked around
‘Thanks again’ I said.
We sat watching the campfire for a while, a rainstorm to the south of the bay darkening the skies, the rain sheets visible over the still water. Zee started strumming her guitar
“I’m looking out my window
Watching the rain spill
Tonight it makes me smile somehow
Oh right now I’m thinking about you
A crack of thunder quakes the floor
Did you feel it too
For always and forever more
I'll always be thinking about you
Because life is like the rain
For it’s loud and it’s scary
It’s dark and it’s dreary
It’s bent, broken, twisted, torn
I’m lucky I’ve a rainbow
I’d keep every minute
Just locked up in my heart
That way they’ll be hidden
And I’ll always be thinking about you”
The rain and the hail will fall I know
But I know we will never follow
The wind and the storm will toss us I know
But I know they can never break us
Because my life is like the rain
It’s loud and it’s scary
It’s dark and it’s dreary
It’s bent, broken, twisted, torn
I'm lucky I've a rainbow
Oh yes, you are my rainbow”
Original song by @dramaticllama Nightshade
Her beautiful voice singing a song that she’d obviously written, As she sang the drizzle started falling down on us wetting our clothing and hair.
As she stopped she looked at me and smiled sheepishly. I leant across and kissed her lips gently.
‘Lily and I am going to go back up, let you have a bit of time alone’ Crissy said, ‘it is our last night here’
I looked at Zee and back at Crissy
‘Stay, we’re in this together, we’re OK,’ I said evenly
Zee smiled and nodded agreement
‘Tonight we’re all as one’ she said
I put out my hand and Crissy sat took it and sat down close to me whilst Lily sat next to Zee.
We spent the rest of the night joking and singing. Crissy turned out to have a great voice as well leaving Lily and I as the only ones who couldn’t really sing. I maybe held Zee a little too tight and Crissy’s hand a little too long but I think we all realised that after tomorrow there might not be anymore nights like this one.
On the way back up the cliff to bed, Zee and I fell behind the others. She stopped at the top and looked out onto the bay. I stood behind her and held her my chin on her shoulder.
‘You like her don’t you’ Zee said eventually
I thought about it and wondered what to say. Eventually I nodded slowly.
‘What about me, do you like me’ she asked
I nodded again. She turned to face me smiling
It’s weird Zee, I never thought I would ever love anyone again after Sinead but these last few weeks I’ve felt so close to you. I know I love you and want to be with you so much. Then Crissy came along and I have these feelings for her. I can’t explain what it’s like.’
‘It’s OK Squonk, I understand. If we had longer I might be angry but I always knew you were in love with someone else. Let’s make the most of the time left’ she said kissing me tenderly.
‘Oh and Squonk, you must tell her how you feel’