Amie: An African Adventure by Lucinda E. Clarke
April 27, 2016
In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Wednesday’s Sampler features an excerpt from Amie: An African Adventure by Lucinda E Clarke.
As one reviewer said: Because I always look at the underside of what I’m reading, I saw the metaphor as well as the reality of Amie’s incredibly courageous journey. It described woman’s struggle everywhere: to be heard, to fight against neglect and abuse, to overcome fear and find a safe place of refuge, to discover her own strength and her own authentic voice. This book was written with such consummate skill.
Amie was just an average girl, living in her home town close to friends and family. She was happily married and she had her future all planned out. They would have two adorable children, while she made award winning programmes for television.
Until the day her husband announced he was being sent to live and work in an African country she’d never heard of.
When she came to the notice of a Colonel in the Government, it made life very complicated, and from there things started to escalate from bad to worse.
If Amie could have seen that one day she would be totally lost, fighting for her life, and enduring untold horrors, she would never have stepped foot on that plane.
They came for her soon after the first rays of the sun began to pour over the far distant hills, spilling down the slopes onto the earth below. At first the gentle beams warmed the air, but as the sun rose higher in the sky, it produced a scorching heat, which beat down on the land with relentless energy.
She heard them approach, their footsteps echoing loudly on the bare concrete floors. As the marching feet drew closer, she curled up as small as she could, and tried to breathe slowly to stop her heart racing. No, please, not again, she whispered to herself. She couldn’t take much more. What did they want? Would they beat her again? What did they expect her to say?
There was nothing she could tell them she was keeping no secrets. She knew she couldn’t take any more pain every little bit of her body ached. How many films had she seen where people were kicked or beaten up? She’d never understood real pain, the real agony even a single punch could inflict on the body. Now all she wanted was to die, to escape the torture and slide away into oblivion.
The large fat one was the first to appear on the other side of the door. She knew he was important, because the gold braid, medals, ribbons and badges on his uniform told everyone he was a powerful man, a man it would be very dangerous to cross. He was accompanied by three other warders, also in uniform, but with fewer decorations.
They unlocked the old, rusty cell door and the skinny one walked over and dragged her to her feet. He pushed her away from him, swung her round and bound her wrists together behind her back, with a long strip of dirty cotton material. She winced as he pulled roughly on the cloth and then propelled her towards the door. The others stood back as they shoved her into the corridor and up the steps to the ground floor.
She thought they were going to turn left towards the room where they made her sit for hours and hours on a small chair. They’d shouted and screamed at her and got angry when she couldn’t answer their questions. This made them angry so they hit her again.
She’d lost track of the time she’d been here was it a few days, or several weeks? As she drifted in and out of consciousness, she had lost all sense of reality. Her former life was a blur, and it was too late to mark the cell walls to record how long they’d kept her imprisoned.
This time, however, they didn’t turn left. They turned right at the top of the steps and pulled her down a long corridor towards an opening at the far end. She could see the bright sunlight reflecting off the dirty white walls. For a brief moment, she had a sudden feeling of euphoria. They were going to let her go!
She could hear muffled sounds and shouts from the street outside. It was surreal there were people so close to the prison going about their everyday lives. On the other side of the wall, the early morning suppliers who brought produce in from the surrounding areas were haggling over prices with the market stallholders, shouting and arguing at the tops of their voices. Not one of them was aware of her, of her pain or despair. Even if they had known, they wouldn’t give her a second thought. Why should they care? She didn’t belong here. Only a few years ago she’d never heard of them or their country. The sounds drifting over the wall that were once so foreign had become commonplace, then forgotten, and now remembered. She was aware of the everyday bustle and noise of the market, goats bleating, chickens squawking, children screaming and the babble of voices. But all these sounds could have been a million miles away, for they were way beyond her reach.
Hope flared briefly. Her captors had realized she was innocent. They’d never accused her of anything sensible, and she still didn’t know why she’d been arrested. She knew she’d done nothing wrong. Her thoughts ran wild, and she tried to convince herself the nightmare was over at last.
All the doors on either side of the corridor were closed, as they half carried, half dragged her towards the opening in the archway at the end. The closer they got, against all reason, her hopes just grew and grew. They were going to set her free. She was going home.
As they shoved her through the open doorway, she screwed up her eyes against the bright light, and when she opened them, it was to see they were in a bare courtyard, surrounded on three sides by high walls. As she looked around, she could see there was no other exit leading to the outside world.
Then she saw the stake in the ground on the far side, and brutally they dragged her towards it. She thought of trying to resist, but she was too weak, and there was too much pain. It was difficult to walk, so she concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other, determined not to give the soldiers or police or whoever they were, any satisfaction. She would show as much dignity as she could.
The skinny one pushed her against the post, took another long piece of sheeting from his pocket and tied it around her chest, fixing her firmly to the wood. She glanced down at the ground and was horrified to see large brown stains in the dust.
Not freedom; this was the end. She squeezed her eyes shut, determined not to let the tears run down her cheeks, but the sound of marching feet forced her to open them again. She saw four more men, all dressed in brown uniforms, with the all-too-familiar guns who had lined up on the other side of the courtyard opposite her. They were a rough-looking bunch, their uniforms were ill fitting and stained, and their boots were unpolished and covered in dust.
She was trembling all over. She didn’t know whether to keep her eyes open to see what was going on, or close them and pretend this was all a terrible dream. She was torn. Part of her wanted it all to end now, but still a part of her wanted to scream, ‘let me live! Please, please let me live!’
The big fat man barked commands and she heard the sounds of guns being broken open as he walked to each of them handing out ammunition, then with the safety catches off, they shuffled into position.
To her horror, she felt a warm trickle of liquid running down the inside of her thighs. At this very last moment, she had lost both her control and her dignity. They had not even offered her a blindfold, so she closed her eyes again and tried to remember happier times, before the nightmare started. Briefly, she glanced up at the few fluffy white clouds floating high in the sky as the order to fire was given.