Being Inspired, maybe - 115

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance:

And, then, the words:

When I woke, the first thing I realized was that I was actually waking up.  I had no memory of going to sleep.

Then, as it usually is in those first few seconds of surfacing, it is to the expectation of being in familiar surroundings 

I was not.

The room was poorly lit, dank with a rather bad aroma of mustiness.  

That was the first sensation.

Then my eyes cleared, and I could see it was a large room with two doors, two single beds side by side, and on one side, a high small window that was opaque from dirt on the outside, and probably the inside too.

Until that moment, when my eyes went back to the second bed, I hadn't given a thought to how I got there.

Until those memories came flooding back.  We were taken from our car, loaded into a van, Suzanne had been knocked put, and that was all I could remember.

Except for my companion on the other bed who hopefully was Madeleine.

The other bed looked newer than mine but the cover and pillow just as bad.

I swung my legs out and sat up, facing her bed, and peeled back the cover.  Yes, it was Madeleine, and no, she was not asleep.  She looked frightened.

I felt that too, not knowing what was going to happen to us.  If it was a kidnapping for money, then when it was paid was go free.  It was not as if we could possibly recognize the kidnappers because they were Chinese, and to be honest I couldn't begin to describe them.

She reached out with her hand and I held it in both of mine.

"Silly question," I said, " but, how are you?"

"Not so bad, but this room, this bed, yuk.  And all the better that you're here with me.  I'm not sure how I was going to manage on my own."

Interesting response.  I had thought she might ask about Suzanne, but maybe she had seen what I saw and knew what happened to her.

"Did you get to speak to the people who did this?"

"No.  The last thing I remember was being shoved into a van.  With you, of course.  That was incredibly brave or incredibly stupid.  If this is a kidnapping, as you suggested, then you just invited yourself to a very uncertain future, maybe even the worst possible outcome.  I have heard horror stories about being kidnapped in Asian countries."

"Well, if that happens, which I don't think will, then I couldn't think of anyone else I'd rather spend my final hours with."

She gave me a curious look, one that said my words were surprising.  She sat up and turned towards me, taking my hand back again.

"I thought you and Suzanne..."

"A lot of people think that but apparently one of them is not Suzanne, not from the vibes I'm picking up when we're together.  I think there was a reason why she invited you here and put us together."

"You don't think she's responsible for this too?"
I had given that a moment’s thought, but it was highly unlikely given the effort she put in to try and stop them.  But asking Madeleine to come here at the same time as me?  That was something else.

"No.  I think it's her rather twisted way of playing matchmaker.  She and I are just not suited together as much as my parents would like it to be and I think she knows that.  As for my parents, they're a bit eighteenth century like that."

"Put like that, my parents are a bit like that.  My mother seems to think I should be marrying someone from a rich family, but I find those sorts of boys just haven't grown up and had very little ambition to be or do anything."

Yes, I thought, it seemed a sad inditement of my fellow contemporaries.  I used to hang out with a group I used to call my friends, but that didn't hold well with them that I had a job and couldn't drop everything to go on some childish escapade.

"Blame the indulgent parents, for creating self-indulgent monsters.  Still, in not one to talk, gallivanting odd on one of Suzanne's whims.  To be honest, I'm surprised your parents let you come here by yourself, or that you would come on your own."

"They didn't.  It was only on condition I took Hollinder with me, making sure I don't get up to any mischief."

"Or hopefully getting into any trouble.  We can only hope he's out there somewhere planning to get you back, or at the very least find out what happened to you."

"Of that, I have no doubt.  But this all happened too fast for him to keep up.  Usually, when my parents travel, he has a team of bodyguards."

This accounted for the fact she was not hysterical which was what I'd expected, rather than the almost calm demeanor she was displaying.  She was frightened, yes, but I liked to think my staying with her had helped.

"But it's funny sometimes how things work out," she added, "Suzanne's invitation was a surprise because we rarely cross paths, and it's mostly when our mother's get together.  Then, when I got here, finding you here was a pleasant surprise. As is the revelation just now that you liked me that much."
"Perhaps I should have tried to tell you earlier, but we rarely seem to cross paths as well.  And when we are at the same functions, it's hard to get you on your own.  Aside from the fact I never really thought you'd notice me.  That and being slightly older, always a problem when it comes to parental approval.  I guess we should thank Suzanne when we see her next."

"If we get to see her again."

© Charles Heath 2020


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