24. Dr. Hansful

Just then another nurse came out shouting;

“Shut up. You better keep it down. If you cannot take it then why did you come here? I mean what were you expecting? Flowery prairies and ice cream vans everywhere? This is a war zone. Better get a grip!”

“Wow that was too harsh, Nurse Hanna”, the nurse who had accompanied Marie retorted in her defense.

Nurse Hanna did not hear that. Rather she stood enraged, starring at Marie, waiting for her to brandish the red cape so she could charge at her with the force of a Spanish bull. Working in a worn-torn part of the world seemed to have taken a toll on these health professionals. They all seemed to be fractious. With a round-the-clock demand for their services, many of them could barely afford more than 4 hours of sleep before they were back at the ward tending to severely wounded soldiers. Theirs was the kind of job that had the effect of keenly humbling an individual but at the same time stressing them out till they were at their wit’s end.

Worn-out from long hours of torture, famished and drugged, the young bull had turned into a mad and ferocious beast. A phone rang in the office distracting her from her target. She quickly ran inside to attend to the call.

With Nurse Hanna gone, Marie was left alone on the bench with the comforting nurse. She placed her arm around Marie. Marie’s tears had dried up but when she looked down at her sweaty shirt, it was stained with gooey mud. Without thinking, she rubbed her shirt over her face to wipe away the sweat.

“Listen, you cannot stay here. There is a hotel about 15 minutes from here. It’s nothing fancy but it is safe and enough for you to get a good night’s rest. What do you say?” the nurse said.

Silence.

“Miss, miss. You know, I don’t even know your name”.

Sniffing she replied “My name is Marie, Marie Fosuwaa Hansful”

“Hansful! You Ghanaian by any chance?”

Surprised at the question, Marie sat up. “Yes, my parents are but I was born and raised in the United States. How did you guess?”

“It is your name. I think I might know your father. Is he a medical doctor?”

“Yes, but…” She paused to think.

“Hmmmm wait give me a second”.

She went inside the ward and in a few minutes returned with a photo. Before the nurse could say a word, Marie snatched the photo from her hand and observed it closely. It was a group photo with smiling people in white overalls. Scrutinizing each face from left to right, Marie was not even blinking. And then, she saw him. It was her father, standing behind a bearded gentleman.

“Where did you get this?” she asked

“Is this your father?” the nurse replied excitedly.

“Ermm, yes. But where was this taken and how come you have this?”

“I am Anastasia Chrenko. I have been working as a nurse for the army as a reservist for the past 20 years. I come out to various bases around the world to help treat our soldiers who have sacrificed their lives for our country. My full job is in Piedmont Medical Center, Washington DC”.

“That’s where my dad works too”

“I know Doctor Hansful very well. He is not only an amazing doctor but a great man.”

Marie was lost for words. The last thing she expected coming out here was someone talking about her aggrieved father.

Nurse Anastasia went on. “Did you not know he had joined the army as a reservist?”

“Noooooo” wide-eyed.

“Oh yes, he is so generous. He has been coming here free of charge and providing medical services to the soldiers for the past year.”

“My father and I. Well, we don’t talk. It is a long story.”

“I am sorry to hear that, Marie. I am sure whatever the problem was, it is nothing that cannot be resolved.”

“With all due respect. You have no idea what you are talking about. I disappointed him greatly. His only daughter disobeying him. He was hurt. I persisted, he disowned me. We stopped speaking. In a nutshell, it cannot be resolved”.

The nurse thought for a while before speaking. “Marie, who is Jean-Paul to you?”

“Thank you for finally asking” she answered cheekily. “He is not my brother but the love of my life. My kubolo”.

“I see the situation with your father may look hopeless, but trust me when I say it will be fine. Now you go off to the hotel. I will get an escort to take you. Get a good night’s sleep and come back refreshed, ok.”

After sending Marie off with an officer, nurse Anastasia had her shower after doing her last round in the ward. She went in to sleep in the nurse’s quarters. There she sat on her bed looking at the photo.

“Go to bed. It is late”.

“Nurse Hanna I have had enough of your rudeness today”.

“That cry baby was getting on my last nerve. I sure hope she does not return.”

“Do you know whose daughter that is? Doctor Hansful.”

“What!? Is that why you are starring at that photo. I always knew you were secretly in love with him following him every deployment he goes on”

“Oh come on Hanna. You know that is not true. This story is utterly intriguing, Hanna. She lost contact with her father and her boyfriend only to find the poor boy maimed. Not knowing it was at her own father’s hands.

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23. Maimed

She had an ambiguous expression. Marie thought hard. One observing her would find it difficult to decipher what feelings hid behind those dimmed green eyes. Reminiscent of the fresh tilapia the fishermen of Cape Coast would bring up shore on their boats to sell. Still alive but struggling to breath out of the ocean. Their milky eyes looking straight into yours pleading for their rescue. Hypnotizing you into a deep agony of culpability.

This woman’s sly smile revealed two large canine teeth, with her tongue she caressed the left one while staring at Marie. As though she had finally resigned to do what she did not want to do, she shook her head and slowly begun to draw the curtains open.

Both women stood looking at each other. As the curtains were drawn apart, Marie instinctively turned away from what was unveiled. She was now looking across a room with rows and rows of beds neatly arranged one opposite the other. From the entrance, there were three row on the left and two to the right. Five flickering lights run on the ceiling. The darkness of the night was no match for the darkness that was happening in this building.

Each row had approximately ten beds with broken men being attended to. Marie scanned the room, soaking in the pain of these men once able, strong and brave. Now rendered inapt by the weapons of battle. To her left a man completely bandaged from head to toe, only his eyes and mouth exposed to allow in oxygen. Ropes holding his arms upright attached to the bed poster. He had a metallic brace around his neck making him completely immobile. Feeble sounds of sobbing came from the mummy.

Two beds over, a man who looked like he had recently arrived and was one of the few loud tormentors. He was screaming, thumping the bed with his fists and trying desperately to escape the three strong men who were holding him down to the bed. A doctor was standing near and the moment they had mobilized him, gave him an injection which immediately calmed him. As they moved away, his bloody trousers became visible. A leg severed below the knee. A nurse moved in to dress his wounds.

Marie was horrified, after what she had been through that afternoon, she could not contain her tears. Tears welled up in her eyes. She began to cry uncontrollably. Her eyes met a pair of eyes. They were still. Suddenly white sheets were pulled over them. This was too much for her, she was about to crumble when someone grabbed her hand. And in a soft voice said

“Marie, Marie is that you my love?”

She turned around slowly to see, swallowing hard and dreading what she was about to see. There a man lay fully bearded, his head wrapped heavily in bandages. Heavy eye dressing covered both his eyes.

He tilted his head slightly to see her properly. She looked at this unfamiliar face, wondering “could it be?”

“Marie” he said again

“Yes?” she came closer

Upon hearing this he tried to leap up to hug her but was immediately thrown back by the force of the heavy plaster on his legs. As Marie watched, she saw white plasters covering his knees all the way up to the groin area. He had no legs. He was still holding on to her hand and squeezed it desperately.

“Marie, you came. You came for me”

Overwhelmed, she could not speak. She was crying, uncontrollably. The nurse who had escorted her to the bed tried to console her. Asking her if she needed to go out for some air.

“Come my dear, let’s step outside for a moment”

She let herself be directed outside. Where the nurse sat her on a bench. She hid her face in her hands and cried till she had no tears.

“It is ok my dear. You are going to make yourself ill. We don’t have room for you in there as you can see.”

That remark only made Marie cry more.

“There, there. Listen, you are blessed, he is still alive. Most family members say goodbye and the next time they see their loved ones, they are in a casket. So please console yourself alright. God is in control.”

“Ah!” She shouted “God. Where was He when all this was happening? God!” She shouted

“Hey, clam down young lady. You don’t want to wake everyone up. He will tell you himself one day but your brother is a hero, alright. If it was not for his bravery, six men in there would have been dead. He needs you more than ever now. Be strong, go in there and tell him you are proud of him and that everything will be fine.”

“My brother?” Marie asked “He is more than a brother to me and what have I done in return? Abandoned him!” She said regretfully, returning to her sobbing.

22. War Zone

<meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”0; URL=/?_fb_noscript=1″ />Suddenly, a loud blast echoed through the city. People screamed and instinctively dropped to the floor. The soldiers immediately took out their weapons to defend. It was as if every minute spent in training was for this very moment. They barked orders for everyone to stay prostrated on the floor. Hurriedly, they formed a shield around the civilians. Some curious ones ignoring orders to stay down, stood up eagerly trying to identify the source of this commotion.
“Uruzgan, Uruzgan” shouted one tall lanky young man. He appeared to be one of the locals. His Afghanistan accent was hard to miss.
“Are you sure?”, people asked still covering their heads.
“Of course I am”, he said with the audacity of a man who knew what he was talking about.
“Uruzgan is North of Kandahar”, he said pointing frantically. “And obviously, the sound of the blast came of there”.
People reassured, they picked up themselves from the floor to take their positions in the queue, thick dark smoke creating a backdrop as things went back to the norm in this war-torn country.
Marie this entire time had been reciting her Psalms and any scripture that came to her mind.
“Where is a bible when you need one. And so shall it be in the end time. Thank God grandma made us memorize scripture when we were young. I do not know what…”
At that moment, the lady in front of her shouted something unintelligible at her and then realising she didn’t understand translated into English
“Who are you talking to? Are you carrying a walkie talkie”?

A few other people in the queue turned their attention to Marie asking her what was in that black bag. But before she could respond, a soldier was called. Screaming insults at her, he ordered her to let go of her bag and throw it into the bush. Marie was petrified. Best to obey this six foot plus muscular white man brandishing an automatic rifle.
Reluctantly, she obeyed.
He then ordered everyone to move away and then riddled bullets through her bag.
“Nooooooo” She screamed “Stop it! Why are you doing that?”
“Shut up! Stand back! If I say it again this bag will be the last of your worries, he belted at her.
In despair, she dropped to the dusty sweltering road which felt sticky as the tar was melting under the constant sunshine.
Tears streaming down her cheeks, she cried almost inaudibly, “please stop. I mean no harm. All I have in there are clothes and shoes, Lord Jesus Christ help me!”
When the soldier heard her mention that name he immediately stopped and turned to her.

“What did you just say” he asked
Thinking he was about to harm her, she stood up and pulled back as he also advanced towards her.
“I, I said only clothes”
“No! you said Jesus Christ. Where are you from, who sent you?”
“No one. I am here, I mean I am an American, officer, but travelling from Ghana. I am here to find John-Paul Nketia. He works with”
“Say no more”
The soldier’s eyes lit up and his nose flared as a retriever sniffing the concealed illegal drugs would do. Wagging its tail in content and in anticipation of a reward.
He told her to follow him and that he was going to help.
“What about my bag” She pleaded.
“Nothing I can do ma’am” He looked away unapologetic.

Together they walked through the gates as people watched on in stupor as though she had been a guilty convict being led to jail to serve her time.
They went into a first building where he asked her to wait as he went in an office. When he came out, he took her into another building where he got her a badge with VISITOR written on it.
“Here, wear this”
Does this mean, he is here? John-Paul is here?”
“Ma’am, this way please” he directed her east into yet another building outside of which several military ambulances were parked. Men and women in white lab coats were walking around speaking in low voices with bleak expressions.
Inside, they met a middle-aged woman in white overalls and a cap. As though a secret message had been transmitted, she nodded towards the irascible soldier.
“You can come with me” she said without eye contact. Just like that, the soldier disappeared.

An intense concoction of smells invaded Marie’s senses. “How could these people breath in here?” she thought
Then she realized most of the people were very ill, wounded or unconscious and the least of their concerns was the smell. Soldiers survived from the battle front but succumbing to a lifelong of woes. Her heart skipped a beat. Where was her John-Paul? What had happened to him?
The nurse stopped at a bed which had a white curtain around it. She stood there and for a second seemed to hesitate to reveal the horror that lay on the other side.

21. Making things happen

That evening Marie lay in bed trying desperately to fall asleep. Her one desire was to reach the dark place where both the living and the dead visit. But flashing images kept tormenting her mind. The arguments with John-Paul, her father shouting, the pleas of her mother sobbing and asking her to apologies and return home. The demon of guilt kept feeding to her soul “you should have listened. You should have obeyed. Your life would have been so much more fulfilled. Your life is doomed, there is no hope for you.”

She woke up in a pool of sweat with a brilliant idea. With the bottom of her long nightie she whipped her face and jumped out of bed. Without turning the lights on, relying only on the balcony light and the bright moon, she took a stool to her wardrobe and brought down her suitcase. Lumping the dusty bag on her bed, she grabbed a handful of clothes from her drawers and damped them in the bag. She made three trips between her bed and drawers then she paused and went to the bathroom. Packing everything she thought necessary into her toiletry bag, toothpaste, toothbrush, comb, body lotion, sanitary pad and oh the hair oil, she could not forget the hair oil.  Back in the room, the toiletries went into the suitcase. After that, she took a quick shower, put on some jeans, a t-shirt and some trainers and headed for the living room. She looked at the clock, 4:30 am. Her plan unfolding in her head, she pulled out the letter drawer and brought it to the room. By now the suitcase was packed so she zipped and locked it and placed it next to the door. Then she emptied the drawer onto the bed. She looked at the clock 4:35 am.

“This should not take more than thirty minutes” she thought.

One by one she re-read the letters looking for information. Anything that could tell her the where, what and how to get to her destination. Then she remembered in his third to last letter he had asked her to keep him in his prayers as his division had been sent to Kandahar.  She wiped the sweat off her forehead picked up her back and called for Stella. She handed her some cash and told her she would be back soon.

“Take care of this place. Make sure Nana goes for his lessons alright” She said

“Ah ah where are you going this early? I thought your Accra meeting wasn’t until Friday.”

“Well no. I am leaving the country. For once Stella, I am taking your advice. I am making things happen”

Surprised and confused, Stella was lost for words. She watched Marie walk away as she tried to merge all the questions she had into one. But it was too late, she had left. Marie walked to the junction and hailed a cab.

“Sister eh oten den eh. Anopa tutuutu dem jema eritu kwan. Nyame nye wu nko ai” (“Sister how are you? You are travelling so early in the morning. May God protect your journey”) the porridge vendor sent her off with blessings.

“Medase” (thank you) she replied before getting into the taxi.

In two hours she was at Kotoka airport, Accra. She went to the Airline’s desk and presented her diplomatic passport and one-way e-ticket on her phone. That easily, her luggage was checked-in and she was able to board the flight to the obscure.

Kandahar, three days later. She was in a taxi giving directions to the driver who seemed very uneasy to be have to go to the American embassy. He had objected at first but finally agreed when she took out a 10 dollar note. However that didn’t end there, his suspicions grew during the drive as he asked more questions.

“Why are you filming madam? Are you sure you are not a journalist. I don’t want any trouble.”

“No, I told you Mahmoud, I am a tourist. I just want to capture this beautiful place. Can you slow down here so I can buy a drink” Just like in Ghana one had the luxury of quenching one’s thirst in traffic by purchasing beverages on the roadside. The chilled coca cola did just that and she no longer felt like she was about to collapse from heat stroke.

Mahmoud continued. “Tourist eh? Here in my Afghan! We don’t get many around these parts”. Peaking at her through the rear view mirror. “This is my country but I would never encourage anybody to visit. Especially a little lady like you. You must really enjoy dangerous places. What do your father and brothers think of this eh” waving his right hand in despair.

“You have no idea” she whispered

“Eh?”

“No, I was saying I think it is beautiful here”

“Hmmm” he muttered a few words in Arabic and parked the car. “Yallah! Here we are. I cannot go any further. You will have to walk from here.”

Marie looked out and they were at about hundred feet from the checkpoint into the American base. There were queues of military and civilian cars and people being checked. The moment she took her bag from the taxi, is when she regretted the hastiness of her packing. In this desert sweltering heat she had to carry the bag through that distance and through the queue. Reminding herself like a self-encouraging slogan;

“I am making things happen, I am making things happen, I am making things happen”.

20. Charity begins here

<meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”0; URL=/?_fb_noscript=1″ />Stella knew how to reach Marie, just like Marta when she was growing up. She loved her mother dearly but always gravitated towards other older women for comfort and advice. Stella herself had 4 grown children. The two oldest were married and living in the capital Accra with their own children and the third born, a girl was running a successful fashion design business in Koforidua in the Eastern region. Stella’s last, a beautiful boy sadly was struck with severe autism and living with his mother. He was Marie’s age but could not do anything for himself. He had to depend on people for everything and some of the villagers who did not understand his condition had insulted his mother and shun her for being cursed. When Marie moved to the village Stella and Nana were living in a rustic chop bar, where Stella would cook and sell local dishes and alcohol to make ends meet. They shared a small space in the back which had a leaking rooftop. The men would get drunk and abuse the young man, raining insults at him and shoving him around, telling him to be a man. Marie witnessed this once day and offered them her home in exchange for Stella taking care of the place, cooking and doing her laundry. That way she could make some money and Marie would use her connections to get Nana some help.
One afternoon, Stella saw Marie dropping yet another letter into that drawer. Unable to control her tongue any further she asked,
“Madam, another letter?”
“Stella I have told you not to call me madam. You are old enough to be my own mother. Please” She responded. She looked very worn out from her long day working at the centre but the smell of banku and okro stew coming from the kitchen gave her something to smile about.
“Ok mad, I mean Marie. Why are all those letters in that drawer?”
“Don’t worry about them. You need a drawer eh? I was planning to burn the letters anyway so you can take it ok”
“No, I have more than enough room o. I am asking because I see you every week reading a letter with the same looking envelop. I think it is the same one but no you finish it put it back in the envelop and place it in that drawer. But I have never seen you writing one. I know it is none of my business but who is it?”
Of all the topic, she was willing to discuss, this was none of them. So rather than says so, she kept quiet.

But she had forgotten how stubborn Stella could be. When she looked up she was still standing at the kitchen door waiting for an answer. They kept their eyes locked till one of them succumb and it was always Marie so today she was determined to win. So she sat in her seat properly and looked intensely at Stella across the room. The eye-locking show down begun. In a short time the smell of burnt food filled the room and Stella had no choice but to run into the kitchen to see to it.
“Yes! For once! I have won” Marie jubilated.
“Oh no it is because I had to check the food. I will take you on again any time.” Stella quickly returned. “But seriously Marie tell me what is going on?”
With a deep breath, “Those letters are from John-Paul”
“Who is John-Paul?
“A guy” Stella replied cheekily
“I know a guy, which guy?”
“A guy I fell in love with a long time ago but we are no more now”
“It doesn’t look like he is over you my dear”
“hmmm, he writes to me every week without fail but I just don’t have the courage to write him back.”
“Do you love him?”
“I, I, I” She started sobbing. “I do love him but it is too complicated now. Plus, I was very mean to him the last time we saw each other.”


“Oh my dear listen in life it is very difficult to find some who love you unconditionally. Not because of what they can get from you or what plans they must achieve but simply because you are you. It is almost impossible. I would advise you that if you truly love him and he loves you too, better make it work. Forget about the past and make it happen.”


“Stella, I have had enough. I don’t need a man to be happy and accomplished. I mean look at me and look at what I have achieved on my own. My very father rejected me because I chose to come here to help. I am not like the women here in Ghana. I see young women do not strive to become successful. To them getting married is the epitome of success and so they work hard to marry and marry rich.”

19. Beautiful Ghana

<meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”0; URL=/?_fb_noscript=1″ />Somewhere, on the West Coast of Africa. She had spent the last hour, in a house overseeing the Atlantic Ocean, holding a letter in her hand. Having just read its contents, Marie was taking in the beautiful breeze. Taking in a breath of fresh hope.

Cape Coast was heavenly. A beauty that is meant to be lived and not described, as no words invented by man could make justice to this place. People came from far and wide to rejuvenate, rest and soak in the pure air. The beautiful ocean blended with the cool tropical breeze, made for a tranquilizer from all of life’s woes. It was that time of the year though, the rainy season and the humidity was the reality. Although it made Marie’s coarse hair impossible to manage and mosquitoes seeming to grow in number it was Marie’s favorite season. Only for the fact that each time it rained she remembered her Kubolo.

This was truly paradise many from back home could only dream of. To her, it surpassed all the luxurious exotic places her parents had taken her and her siblings for vacations. For some reason, she felt at home here, like she belonged among the simplicity of this place. She fit in with the people, with nature, with the pace of life. And oh the children. They were so precious and she was so proud of what she had accomplished with them at the development center. When she came to Ghana a year ago it was only a make-shift orphanage run by a group of volunteers. However, with lots of petitions and fund raising she was able to drive things to turn the orphanage into a development center which not only provided care to orphans and abandoned children but facilitated adoptions in conjunction with governmental bodies. They enroll the children into various development programs to help them acquire basic education and transferable skills. Her love for them was more than enough to comfort her in times of loneliness. Or so she thought.

The letter in her hand reminded her that she still longed for companionship. She couldn’t live her life alone and certainly not with anyone other than. A sudden roar of thunder echoed through the village. And out came startled Stella, Marie’s housekeeper.
“Get inside madam. A storm is coming.”
“Why are you afraid Stella. It is only a storm. Come sit with me” Marie retorted with a smile.
“You know what’s best! Eating fufu while it is raining. It makes the soup more delicious eh. And you know what is even better after that?”
They both looked at each other and at the same time said:
“You will sleep well well like a baby! Hahahahaha”

Marie picked up the envelop and followed Stella in. There she opened a drawer in a little bedside table that was unusually placed in the living room and placed the letter with all the others stamped Afghanistan.

18. Abandoned

Dews of a nocturnal rain covered the windows of her bedroom. It was dark and cloudy outside. Marie lay in bed one eye open, gazing into the future that lay before her in beautiful Ghana with her man. She stretched out and pulled the heavy duvet over herself almost covering her entire head. The thought of all the preparing she had to do for the trip that day was daunting and she thought she should get the most out of her cosy bed. She closed her eyes and tried to picture Ghana from memory her past vacations when she was 7 but nothing. All she had were glimpses of things she had seen on television when her parents would watch the news or when relatives visiting would show her pictures. Suddenly her radio alarm went off, it was eight o’clock. VaShawn Mitchell’s “Nobody Greater” was playing, she increased the volume to the maximum. And for three minutes basked in the words “searched all over, couldn’t find nobody greater than you”. It was so loud that she did not hear her phone nor the doorbell ring. After four minutes the singing gave way to a softer melody as the song came to an end. The sound of her doorbell echoed through her flat an unwelcome tune into her melodious meditation.

Reluctantly, she got out of bed went to the door. It was John Paul, he did not look pleased.

“Marie, I have been standing her for almost ten minutes. Called you, rang the bell.”

“I am so sorry, I did not hear you.”

“I was worried something had happened to you. Why was the music so loud?”

“Are you going to stand in the hallway and yell at me?”

“I am not yelling am I? Alright let me come in so we can fight like real couples do” giving her a cheeky look. She was not amused.

He walked in. “Still in bed I see”

“Hey give me a break ok.”

“Marie I have been up since 4 am. Done one shift already. Will be going for another shift at 12 and you are still in bed”

“Oh my God are you serious right now?! I don’t need this negativity right now John Paul. After all I have been through.”

“Yes you have been through much but the pity party is over. You have lots to do for the trip”.

“You mean we have lost to do?”

John Paul said nothing.

“You mean we right?”

He took a deep breath and sat on the carpet as the flat had no living room furniture.

“Marie, come sit next to me”

She kept standing with her arms folded. The radio playing a 90s R&B song in the background. Her heart was racing as she was waiting to hear what he had to say.

“Marie you know I love you. I would move mountains for you if I could and I want us to be together forever. But I cannot come to Ghana with you. I, I, I, there is something I have to do first but rest assured I will come for you.” He wasn’t sure she was still listening so he raised his head and she was standing there arms folded streams of tears flowing down both sides of her face. Too painful to watch but he had to. So he went on.

“I applied to join the army a few months ago. Passed the training and tests and found out three days ago that I have been accepted. They want me to move to base and deploy in three weeks.” He spoke looking down at the carpet, he could not bear watching her cry. Then he heard her drop to the ground, uncontrollable crying and asking why. He went to her, held her as she sobbed.

Three hours later they were still on the floor, their backs to the wall. Her eyes swollen. They just sat there, silent.

“You have known all this while and you are only telling me now. I can’t believe it! I thought you were different.”

“Different?”

“You are like all other men out there. Deceptive, manipulative…”

“Wait don’t take this out of context. When have I been all those things? I think I have been more than supportive through it all.” He went on “My darling listen this is the best option for me right now. I will get my papers sorted out, a good salary with benefits and I will be able to take care of you.”

“There is always school. You can enroll to get your degree and…”

“No! I am sorry, I didn’t mean to shout. School is not for me. Life has been my teacher so far and I am convinced the army is the right way for me to go. I am not abandoning you. Far from that. I will visit, we will write and…”

“Visit! Write! That’s not good enough John Paul, I thought we were in this together.”

“We are and I will prove it to you wait and see.”

“I can’t believe this. Why won’t I feel abandoned? You encouraged me to follow my dreams, went against my father only for you to abandon me even before the journey begins!”

He was lost for words. It had not gone as planned. He knew she would be upset but for her to think he did not care hurt him.

He stood up went to the toilet came back into the open plan kitchen, drank some orange juice and bid her goodbye. He had to go for his second shift. A peck on the cheek he left her. In four hours her joy had been turned into disappointment and fear. She walked to her room and caught a glimpse of John Paul on his pink bicycle riding off. She went back into bed, pulled the duvet over her head.