The next day Jacqueline turned up and took us to one of the local towns. The bustle of the streets was in sharp contrast to the quietness around the lighthouse. We were given money to buy some new clothes and things to replace those items we’d lost in the camp. It was a brief interlude away and let’s face it shopping makes us all happy to a certain extent. Then all too soon we were back in the lighthouse, exiled as it were from society, hiding away like animals in the long grass.
The next few days passed us by. Zee and I spent more time together walking along the cliff tops, maybe getting to know each other better but finding solace in each others company. We’d more or less split into pairs, Lily and EH, Prez and Ahlaam and Zee and myself. We’d come together for meals in the evening. Inevitably Lily would be cooking, we were getting used to no meat in our diet but still the barbs from Prez hurt her at times.
One night I was sat in my usual position on the cliff edge when Lily sat next to me.
‘Prez is starting to really get to me’ she said, ‘she’s always complaining about the food. I’d leave it to her, but honestly she can’t cook for toffee.’
‘You’re a good cook, don’t listen to her, she just hates being hidden away. She’ll only be happy when she’s doing something.’
‘Yes I know, but she has to realise we’re all missing things. We’ve all come away from those we love. Every night I cry myself to sleep at the thought I might never see my family again. At times I want to go back home and get on with my life, but I know I’ll be arrested and carted off to one of those horrible camps.’ She spat out.
I hesitated and placed my arm around her shoulders. She buried her head into my shoulder and I felt her shaking as she started sobbing. I held her, unsure of what to do as a damp patch appeared on my t-shirt. I stroked her hair as she continued, obviously emotions coming out of her in a physical manifestation of her unhappiness. I let her cry herself out before talking.
‘Sorry Tom, just all gets too much at times. I hope that Crissy gets here soon, I miss her so much even though we argue.’
‘Any time you need to talk or rant, I’m here.’
We sat together looking out to sea. It was that golden hour of night where the light of the sun bathed everything in yellow chiffon. Gradually the light dimmed and the air started to cool. Lily shivered slightly next to me.
‘Better go back,’ I said
We got up stiffly and started to walk back to the lighthouse. I saw Zee waving at the top of the lighthouse and waved back at her.
‘You and Zee seem to be getting close.’ Lily ventured
‘Well we’ve been friends for a long time you know, always had this bond.’ I said non committedly.
‘Ah…’ Lily replied
‘Look, Lily, I’m still coming to terms with Sinead not being here. I’ve got no idea where I’m going in life. Look I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how long I have to live. I’m not sure there’s long left before events catch up with me. I have too much respect for Zee to assume anything. I just want to avenge Sineads death in anyway I can. ‘
Lily patted my arm.
‘It’s OK Tom, we understand.’ She said, ‘I think you’ll get along well with Crissy.’
That evening we sat around the balcony watching a storm out to sea. . Flashes of light stabbed the sea as distant rumbles of thunder like large timpani drums filled the night air. Nature at it’s most theatrical. The electrifying display was maybe a portent to the future. Our little group, I think, knew that our future was limited. According the the Govians, we were a big threat. At that moment in time we didn’t really know why.
Tensions between us melted away as we sat with mugs of tea and coffee and talked. Arguments faded away and as a group we came closer once again. The bonds of our friendship renewed, it was good to see Prez smiling and laughing with Lily, the carefreeness of the camp returning from the trauma of the past few days. Maybe the natural storm outside quelled our moods.
That night instead of separate rooms we bedded down together in the large room. No one slept early as we talked into the night. The loneliness we all felt was evident in our strained voices. At least we had each other to keep us going. Gradually we dropped off one by one.
In the middle of the night I was awakened by the sound of someone crying. It took a while for my eyes to get used to the dark but I saw the small diminutive figure of Prez disappearing out of the door. I slipped out of my sleeping bag and followed her down the stairs.
‘Are you OK Prez?’ I asked
‘Yes’ she said tersely.
‘Sure ?’ I asked again
She shrugged, as she turned to the window, I saw her eyes glistening in the moonlight from outside.
‘Missing your family?’ I ventured
She paused and nodded slowly.
‘People don’t understand; they see me as some firebrand who only wants destruction. I’m not like that really. Yeah, sure I left home to come here and help you Brits, but sometimes I lash out at people without really knowing that I’m doing it. I take out my frustrations on those I’m close to. What your government is doing to it’s own citizens is goddam awful. I’m worried though that our country is going down the same path, if it’s not stopped here.’
I could feel the anger in her voice, sense the raw emotion. Prez was hurting every bit as much as the rest of us but bottling it up. Ahlaam appeared, wiping the sleep from her eyes.
‘Awake again Prez?’ she asked quietly
‘It’s OK Tom, it’s happened every night. You go back up, I’ll sort her out.’ Ahlaam replied, ‘I’ll be fine’
I left them and headed back upstairs. Zee stirred as I lay back down.
‘Tell you in the morning,’ I said laying down. She smiled and her eyes shut. I lay awake for a while before drifting into a dreamless sleep.
The next day as if sensing that something was wrong, Jacqueline appeared at the lighthouse and told us all to pack. We loaded up and set off back up country stopping that evening at a church hall in Birmingham.
The next day we headed for a local Theme Park where we spent the day. It was an exhilarating experience, a chance to blow off steam and forget everything. The brightness and smiling faces allowed the tensions and trauma of the last few days to disappear. We wandered around laughing and joking totally forgetting where we were and what was happening in the world. That evening back at the Church Hall Jacqueline sat us down.
‘Tomorrow we’re heading for Yorkshire. I’ve got a new camp set up for you, hopefully no one knows about this apart from me so you should be safe for the moment.’
‘Do we get action?’ Prez asked.
‘Yes I think you will, but we need to plan, so just bide your time a little more.’