The Beginnings of an Escape
A Novel Excerpt
The time had come to move to somewhere safer. That was the consensus that the newly formed family of three had reached. The village was too exposed. The soldiers that had seemingly threatened Wonlay had actually told her to leave the village before the rebels returned. The rebels were animals, they said. Evil. They would surely kill anyone they found. Whether this was true or not, X felt strongly that he needed to leave this place now. He would take Wonlay and Toimu with him to the only place he knew might be safe.
X was cautiously trying on familial leadership for size. It felt good. It wasn’t new to him, but he hadn’t experienced it for a long time. A former life. Simple things like checking that Wonlay had packed everything they needed for the journey gave him little doses of happiness. In turn, Wonlay had taken to mothering Toimu very quickly. X enjoyed seeing her begin to fuss over him, in her own manner. She rarely smiled, but one could tell she cared. The one time X had seen her smiling was when she had returned to the Palaver hut with a pair of children’s sandals she had found in another abandoned hut and had given them to Toimu, helping him put them on as she knelt over him.
As the trio ventured out from their little, thatched abode and strode into the jungle, X led them with a sense of purpose and his posture reflected the spark of confidence that had begun to glow inside of him. His clothes were beyond ragged, but they had been hand-washed by Wonlay only a day ago. The bubbles of a foaming stream teased the dirt free from the man-made fibres as the woman’s hands kneaded and beat the fabric against water-smoothed rocks. X felt like his soul had undergone a similar transformation. He felt ragged, but he felt new. Other than his clothes, the only possession he had was his notebook. It sat comfortably inside the breast pocket of his jacket which he continued to wear despite the heat.
Wonlay had helped X regain his bearings after his initial cluelessness of where he was. Wonlay knew of the company’s compound and in what direction it was in relation to the village. As soon as X discovered in which direction the compound lay, segments of his original nocturnal journey began to return to him in flashes and bursts. Never a complete picture, just fleeting impressions of a path here and a river there. He instinctively felt, though, that he should lead and that he did, in fact, know the way back to the compound. It was a new found self-confidence that had begun to freshen his mind.