Jessica waked around, looking desperate, feeling desperate. She had been sent to this land by the news station to report on this. This devastation that was right before her eyes. In fact, scratch that, she had requested, almost fought to come here because it seemed to be the next big thing. An African country responding to the plight of another in what could only be seen as a war call against terrorist; providing military support to stabilise the country. Who was she kidding? It would be the only news worth speaking of worldwide at least for some few hours. If she was to get her Emmy awards or the highest honour, the George Foster Peabody Award, she had to utilise those few hours, she just had to be in this God forsaken land and at this time.
The Recce squad, the military squad that was working to bring peace upon the land had taken them (her and her crew) through an intense mini –training and thousands of instructions on safety measures, how to take cover, how to discover potential areas that IED’S (improvised explosive devices) could potentially be and how to avoid them and proper response to warning calls. By the time they were done, Jessica felt like an older, almost retired version of an army recruit.
With such an intense training, and all the caution that had been instilled into them, she had expected to enter a hot, wild, crazy war zone. It shook her with fear. More than that however, it rippled and spread warmth to her heart. Her Emmy award was only a few footages away. She would finally prove to her daddy that she could do something out of journalism. That the time he said she was wasting was not a waste and the money invested was worth something. It did not matter to her that he had long since stopped talking. She would show him.
“Journalism crew, get some rest, tomorrow we record history. It should be safe enough for you to go to the field”
Michael was feeling uneasy, where was his little cousin? It was way past time! The guy was meant to have brought her back by midnight or 2 am at the very latest. He remembered the look of lust that the man had and got infuriated all over again. He knew that look, he’d given some that look. It was the look of someone out to score at whatever cost. He cursed at himself for not taking the guy’s number. It was slowly approaching morning, actually it was morning seeing as it was five o’clock already, and he honestly feared for the little one. He did not know the man but he knew Jewel and in her right senses; she was responsible, she would not let herself get into any stupid acts, be it drugs, sex all that, that much he was sure about. His only hope was that she was in her right senses not blinded by love or wine.
He felt a warm hand on his shoulder and almost jumped. Suddenly, the warm hand was no more; he turned to see a little girl almost frightened.
“Sorry Michael didn’t mean to frighten you,” said Liz. He smiled; these little girls had grown up so much.
“It’s okay Liz, my mind was so far away is all. “
“I know, you worried about her huh? I also can’t sleep, I honestly don’t trust that man, but I know my Jewlz, she’s about the straightest thing God ever made!”
He smiled. She would know. He had watched this two practically grow up and their friendship was nothing if not eternal. They knew each other inside and out.
“Let me make you coffee it should come your nerves. Hey what about a picnic or drive tomorrow…sorry today, gosh time flies past. Jewlz and I were to do it together and she can just join us there.”
Michael did not have much to do and besides he found that talking to her calmed his nerves, he could almost forget Jewel, he could forget all his troubles and right now when he felt like such an overprotective big brother, such distraction was welcome. He would scold her though for leaving her phone behind! I mean who in this century even does that?
Liz looked at this man just wondering how legal it was for one man to look so fine! I mean tall, light, buff and by buff she could see all the muscles chiselled, almost strained by the T-shirt that was apparently meant to be oversized, her ovaries were almost on fire! But in his eyes she knew he saw a child, like how many times even in this short encounter had he called her little one.
How he said it made her shiver all through. She knew she should be offended to be called that but somehow it filled her with such glee. I promise if this is what Jewel was feeling then she could totally understand what madness the girl saw in that Nick boyfriend of hers.
Argh! She hated nick though! She found him so immature the few times they had interacted and they were FEW! Since he came along, she had hardly seen her best friend and seeing as they were in the same school and shared so many classes that said a lot. She drew the line however when Jewel started flanking in school. It was like her brain had flown with the wind. Her class attendance had slowly deteriorated and she found herself lying more and more to cover for her. She had signed her in to so many classes she was almost perfect at her forging her signature and honestly it was seriously getting to her! She had told Jewel as much.
But at least she could still reason. She would see her more in school nowadays. And she was actually attentive. They were times she would just be there, a shell, and she knew because Jewel would always wink or just stifle a laugh anytime a joke would be said, an intelligent one of course, the ones only the few in class would get. Inattentive her would miss them and laugh only when others laughed. She hated seeing her in such. It reminded her of the dark days when her dad died… when everyone would always bombard her with questions and she would struggle with tears… Liz would get so mad and tell them off and out of class Jewel would run….
She heard that voice again, Michael…
The tea is almost boiling over…
Oh! She snapped into action, feeling almost dumb, turning off the heat and wiping the damage.
“Your mind is occupied too yes?”
“Yea was thinking about Jewlz.
“Me too… that drive? I think it would do us both some good. Maybe we could do that later? “
Liz couldn’t believe it. Of course yes! She couldn’t wait to tell Jewlz! As they settled into comfortable conversation, whilst trying hard not to stare at those lovely brown eyes, she felt her heart calming. She could get used to this.
Jewel woke up and for a while she had no idea where she was. She looked around and found that she was covered in a cute bear duvet. She knew this duvet. Eddy used to cover her with it when she was younger. He had bought it especially for her when she was younger to remind her, and him, that she was still a kid and had a right to enjoy her life, a step at a time. There was no need to rush life, despite what life had flung at her.
She smiled. After all this years, he had kept it. She giggled. This man was more sensitive than he let on. It smelt so fresh and lovely, like it had been recently laundered. She looked up to find her Eddy looking at her, smiling.
“Eddy, you kept it! “
“Of course I did. It reminds me of that little brave girl who sales-ladied herself into my heart.
Jewel laughed. Recalling the memory…
“Lol she’s a big girl now and not particularly fond of selling cars or pitching them. Speaking of which, what’s the fastest car you have right now. I need some speed therapy.’
Eddy didn’t like the idea of a hurt girl behind the steering wheel especially of a race car, even if that girl could harness and control any car that she so wished. Even if that girl was Jewel. He said nothing. She must have sensed that though.
“Relax grand pa. I will be safe. Promise! You know I can handle my cars.”
“Okay okay, I won’t give you the fastest, but there’s a car I would like you to diagnose for me. After breakfast though. Then you can tell me more about this bastard that hurt my little girl.
“I told you not to sweat it plus since when are you all mushy and stuff?”
“since you started walking into bars in the middle of the night in a dress and heels in hands. Do you know how mad you looked? Since when do you wear dresses though?”
Jewel laughed. She wondered what Eddy would think if she knew all she does when home, in her real life, was make up and dresses. Little miss proper. Not a strand out of place. ‘Making mama proud’
“ I looked killer in that dress though right?” she said as she laughed. He laughed with her. There was no way he was getting more info out of her but he was glad to hear her laugh.
“You still have my clothes? “
“Is the sky blue? Top left drawer. I told you that you’d come back, didn’t I? You love the game too much.
“Hold your horses boy. I’m only taking the car for a spin lol.”
Jewel chuckled as she walked to the bathroom. Eddy was such a sweetheart. As the water hit her she reflected on just how interesting life was.
Yester night, she was so frustrated that she almost could not breathe; now she was happy. Well not elated happy but where mom had left, Michael and Liz had come to the rescue, where that stupid son of a gun had shamefully dumped her, Eddy had come to the picture. She did not know if to call it blessed, but she could see she was unusually lucky. Like someone up there was taking care of her after all.
Luck? Really? Could she call it luck to have someone set your heart on a pedestal then flick it to the floor without so much of a thought?
She felt her eyes burn as the memories flooded, she fought against her emotions. She battled them. Even in the confines of the shower she would not allow herself to cry. The idiotic man did not deserve it.
She wished she could somehow sit on her dad’s lap again and tell him how there was a big bad shameful wolf that had broken her heart. Or share with her mum and ask her for advice.
“oh mum! What does a woman do in such situations, how does one go about it?”
She remembered her mother struggling to look at her yesterday, she almost started a conversation. Jewel had been so hopeful. Then that damned office of hers called again. She found herself battling the walls of her tears again. She did not want to cry but she felt suffocated.
Speed…speed would help. The roar of an engine always had a way of calming her spirits.
Jessica could not believe her eyes. An eerie silence met, welcomed and enveloped her as soon as her feet touched the ground. As she walked, a desperate almost strangling feeling gripped her, rumbles of rock, white settled dust, and buildings, or what was left of them surrounded her. There was so much devastation that met the eye, so many crumbled empires, livelihoods and so many gun shells, too many for her to count. It felt like someone had brought the war to a sleeping foe and somehow managed to drag not only the spoils but the very lives and souls of the victims. There was not a single person in sight, not even a body, just shells upon shells of guns and so many crumbled rocks, and that eerie silence that pierced not only the heart but bore into the soul. She felt literallt crippled, all her senses suddenly alert but numbed at the same time, and her heart wept inside.
Never in her life had she experienced such a thing, seen such a scene. A place that was so cold, so desolate; so…empty. She tried to listen for anyone, anything yet she had nothing, no one! The whole place there was not a single soul. How? She stood rooted to the ground wondering what had happened. She felt tears well up from within her; she could feel the land crying out almost in anguish.
“Is there anyone still alive here, were these buildings once homes of people? Where are they now? Did they escape? Are they alive? Or did succumb to this scourge?
Oh Lord what would make a place so cold, so lonely…’’
“Just like your heart…”
“No my heart is nothing like this!” she shouted in her mind, tears filling her eyes, she had so much going for her. She had Jewel, she had jets at her command, a crew that looked up to her. She possibly couldn’t be this cold; this alone… as hot, burning tears streamed down her eyes, she wasn’t sure whom she cried for, her or this barren land.
I wonder what happened to those who lived here, were there any survivors, could I get them as witnesses, and will they risk their faces on air? But who would know? She’d take the footage from their backs. Her camera man would know how to deal with that. Did the militia still hit this town? Did they still bomb this place?
She didn’t have to wait long to get an answer, an ear piercing sound soon passed over her and before she had time to adjust she could feel herself being pulled to a safety area, she didn’t think about it twice. She followed, running for her dear life, behind her dust lifted, the land moaning for the pain inflicted upon it.
Jewel stepped on the gas pedal like her life depended on it. To some extent it actually did. She knew she had promised she would be careful but she also needed to think ;or not think …she wasn’t sure anymore. But she felt like she needed to understand the next phase of her life.
Sadly, it deemed on her how her life for the past year had consisted mainly of her books( the last part at least) and Nick. She cringed that he held such power in her life. He was literally her first everything, her first challenge, her first serious crush, her first boyfriend, her first love, her first kiss and now her first heart break. She felt like her life had all come undone. She hated to think what would have happened had that woman not come to the hotel. For how long would have his charade continued? Until he took her to his bed? Was that all that he had been after all that while?
“how cheap could a man be?” how cheap had she been? One dinner! One dinner was all it took and she had let him be her first intimate physical contact.A dinner she could darn well afford if she wanted, in a hotel she could buy out should she choose. Nkt!
“Going with the flow.” She had convinced herself. and that flow had kept on going for so long!
Liz had never understood why she had kept her ‘mouth purity’ as she called it. Everyone had had their first kisses at 15-16. She was 18 almost turning 19. Sometimes Liz had looked at her like she was mad. But how could she explain to her that when she was younger she had read the Bible from cover to cover and one of the things that had stuck with her was the need for waiting, the joy of purity.
“Do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases”
She did not think Liz would understand but at least she respected her for it. How could she now tell her that she had actually kissed someone? Who dumped her immediately afterwards.
She remembered Liz’s words, “what is the worst that could happen, it’s not like…” Arrgh! She could not bear remember. “Will I tell her?” Liz was already in the dark about her and racing cars. Somehow she had managed to keep that from her for all these years, would she hide this as well? But if she did tell her, she would have to recount everything that had happened and she did not think she had the heart for it.
Michael was also home. How would she explain where she had spent the night? How would she mask the anger she felt? She could say they had gone to a club somewhere but Liz would see through it. So now what? She came to a halting screech as she realised she was more concerned about them and what they would think than about herself. But her own thoughts were dark. Guilt and shame filled them.
“oh why had i not seen him for what he was sooner, why had i not listened to that stupid text?”
Lioness nkt! She had come for her alright. But all the damage had been done by the one man he thought would not hurt her, the man whom she had thought would make her laugh away her problems. The woman hadn’t even needed to to raise a finger. She just stood there and got kissed enjoying the touch of his arms around her.
God she missed that feeling! Arghh! What was wrong with her!
What’s wrong with me? How could i still desire such? Desire him?
She hoped they would both get herpes! Then shuddered as she remembered he’d kissed her too. Argh!!! And she had liked the feeling, NKt!
‘Daughters of Zion do not awaken love until it so desires’
She heard that from somewhere and remembered how in her childhood and with raging hormones, she and her classmates would read Song of Songs with such delight and then would be halted by the very warning. The words were coming back to haunt her and she would drive her way past them.
Words… So many words, “I love you! It’s only you! My one and only! You light up my world, it doesn’t matter how long, I will wait for you. You make me so happy.” Lies! All lies! And she, the fool, who had believed them.
“If you want a man, go find yourself one, this one is taken and has a lioness looking after him!”
How she had dismissed that text made her want to almost laugh at herself.
“It’s not like he will come with another woman and dump you, even he isn’t that dumb.” Oh Liz that tongue of yours, you cursed me. You have no idea just how right you were.
She’d never felt as much as a villain as she did a victim. She was the other woman! She! How could she? Yet, how could she have known. “Oh Lord what have I done? Why did I not trust my gut? I felt something was wrong. I had so many questions.”
She slowed down as the road became narrow; she had driven most for the journey subconsciously but this stretch; she had never been able to. It was a road she knew well, she had driven here, raced to this place and even walked. It led to Motorsport, her father’s workplace, his little piece of heaven on earth and finally his gateway there.
She felt her resolve weaken as she remembered just how often she had come here, especially after his death. She had never been able to go to his final resting place since then but here, she had frequented. She had thought that perhaps if she continued working there that she could help improve the car that had killed him, that somehow she could finish his legacy. Most of all, though, she felt like it would somehow help her feel like she was with him again, that he never left.
It did not work.
Every day, visions plagued her. She would see that turn and see the car go up in flames; she would hold a spanner and see him struggle to get out. She could hear him choke, cough and then feel the hands restraining her from running; she would see the ambulance, hear it blaring in her mind. Then the worst memory, her last memory, would be of him, her daddy, burnt up, patches of raw pink-yellow skin and see that wet fluid all over his wounds, his chocolate dark hands now so burnt he looked white. She could see him wince as he held her hands and see him gnash his teeth to withstand the pain.
The words came back. “I love you baby so so much and mama loves you too. Be a good girl hunny and take care of yourself and mama for me, will you? She loves you so much, don’t you ever doubt that.”
She could never bring herself to remember the rest, it was too much, too painful. She felt her heart become so heavy, as if it was restrained by her chest, she felt like she would burst and a single hot tear streamed down her left eye burning her cheeks as it coursed down.
I miss you dad so much. I wonder what you would think of my life choices from up there. Are you proud of me papa? Have I disappointed you daddy? It hurts dad so much. You said i believe in myself papa, and I still do, it’s a little shaky now but I do. Oh dad, why did you have to leave me alone? Why did you have to go?
She felt choked. Like a wave was coming and she couldn’t handle, it was too much, it hurt so much.
I AM the Father to the Fatherless, Trust me.
She heard, almost felt, the familiar voice again. It was strangely calm and reassuring. She felt for those minutes like it was okay.
Her eyes back on the road she changed her path. Up ahead was what she had come for: THE DHABI TRACK. Owned by an Arab it had been named after the Abu Dhabi city and was the new talk of town. It was barely an year old but it had many driving miles to come try it out. Today she would find out why. As she drove into the Dhabi, she felt instant goose bumps all over as if all the tiny hairs of her arms and legs were as eager as she was to check out this place, craning as if for a better view.
It wasn’t as magical as she had anticipated but it would do. Baseball cap holding her hair in place and her casual look intact, she knew no one would recognize her. She paid cash to some guy at the entrance and drove in. Her speed therapy was about to begin.