Elizabeth & Tau

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She was finally here. The place she felt her heart had always yearned to be. Where is here, you say? Well, it's certainly not the petty American city she had endured for all of her life. She had dealt with the fact that everyone around was oozing with their desires, none of them however sought elsewhere for a fulfilling happiness. That's what her mission is here. America provided easy living and she had always felt something missing, and she knew where that missing piece was. Sierra Leone, Africa. Seeing as how she had spent years babysitting and selling crafts to earn enough money to go, she could only cry a little as she touched foot in the city known as Freetown. She was home.

She arrived at the rehabilitation center with her mission trip. Immediately, they had a sense of new toys considering the fascination they had sparked in the children's eyes. They ran up to them with their wide white smiles and severed limbs, as if there was no longer anything evil in the world. She was crying. She hugged them all and spun them in the air like she would her own kids (if she had any). Every child in the place came running, except one. She saw him, distant from all the other happy youth. He seemed rather cavalier considering there were strangers there of which he doesn't know much of. Oh well. Why bother him?



The next evening, she and the young children watched as some of the patients took part in an amputee league soccer game. They all sat together, each one taking turns sitting next to her, the alien missionary from another continent. They laughed and joked at each other. Except for one. The same one. He sat on another bench, alone. Though, she didn't see the game in his eyes, but pain and suffering. Memories haunted him behind his flesh. He sat there, placid and immovable. She thought to herself what could bother a person to that kind of regression. She assumed he was just another child soldier, and let him be.


Many times, she would catch herself staring at this boy. Being a classy American belle, she didn't even consider being in a relationship with a man of color. He, however, was different. He was beautiful. She saw something beyond his black shell, and liked it. But she shook the idea from her head as fast as it had come. Date a black boy...what would father think?


As she lay sleeping in her cot, she would hear a distant whine. She always took nothing of it, until tonight. As the wailing grew louder, she removed herself from the bed to investigate, deciding she couldn't let herself ignore it for one more night. She rubbed her eyes wearily as she slowly traveled to the end of the rehab center. It didn't even occur to her how much trouble she could get in for this as she involuntarily opened the door to the male dormitory. She saw what was making the disturbing noise. In the corner, the anonymous soldier lay shaking in his bed. Rocking back and forth, he moaned, lost in the terrifying world behind his eyelids. Watch is all she did for a while, he took a turn for the worse. He shot up in his bed, flinging his fists through the air. She quickly grabbed his wrists and shook him awake. His eyes opened with a pop, and he looked confused for a split second. Sweat beads littered his dark skin and he quivered in his sheets.

"Hey...you okay?" She looked in his eyes sympathetically.

"You're not allowed in here." His head was turned.

"I..I'm sorry.."

His head was still averting her. She felt so guilty. How could she come in here and violate him like that? She had no idea what was in those nightmares of his. How could she expect to help him when she was fully aware he would most likely reject her?


Silence. They both were still and quiet. Out of nowhere, she grabbed his large masculine hands and pulled him to his feet, and out of the dormitory. She led him through the twists and turns of the hallways until they reached the front entrance. They walked out of the building to the fields. She could sense his resistance but yet he did not fight her. They reached the soccer fields and she pulled him to a sitting position on the ground. They sat for a second, studying each other. It was 1:57 A.M.

"What was your dream about?" An answer wasn't expected, but she asked anyway.

He remained silent.

"You know, I can help..but it has got to go both ways."

"...I see my family. I see the rebels..." Tears got the best of him and slowly traveled down his cheek. She moved closer to him, hoping to provide some support. He leaned away but eventually gave in and sat close to her without hesitation.

"Go on."

"I don't want to remember.." He looked off into the forest.

"Why? You will never recover if you can't reminisce on how things were and how much better they are now. That's why you have nightmares. You have to be able to accept that what happened isn't going away. The more you block it out, the more it builds up. Eventually, it will break, and so will you. Rejoice in the fact that you have your life back! I'm not expecting you to get over it that fast..but you have the ability to get back in the world! Don't let it pass...."


He looked back up at her, his eyes shimmering. At that moment, she took him by the mind and showed him how to forget. It was 2:23 A.M.


They talked for a while longer, the air was uncomfortable though. She knew he wasn't interested in being out there. So she hatched an idea. She stood up abruptly and offered him her hand. He looked a little lost, but did as she had beckoned.

"We are going to play a little game." Her face was lit with a wide grin.

"It's the middle of the night..what game could we possible play?"

"Guess."


She went inside for a minute and came back out with two pairs of cleats and a soccer ball.

" I see the way you watch soccer. You like it, so we're going to play."


He was reluctant on playing soccer with a small American girl, but gave in after a while. They started playing one on one, but slowly. He wasn't into it. Was she really that lame? She knew he could play better, so she turned up the speed. She was faking him left and right until the score was a devastating six to zero. He had obviously reached his breaking point because he started running circles around her. The game was finally starting to go somewhere, because he was already caught up. Slide-tackles from her to him and speed from him to her. It was becoming a real game, and the joy was obvious on both their faces. It took one score from either one to win, so she took a chance and ran her heart out to goal. As soon as she was sure she had won the game, that hulking black boy came from nowhere and sent her hurtling to the ground. As soon as they recognized exactly what had happened, they had rolled all over each other with howls of laughter. All they could do for a while was smile at each other. At that moment, she took him by the hands and showed him how to live. It was 3:45 A.M.


They laid side by side telling stories and laughing. Even occasional shoves were exchanged. She sat up and looked far off.

"Can I tell you something?" He gave an unsure nod.

" What has happened here is awful. But you are like trees. Wanna know how? You are immobilized and forced to watch your friends, family, and country destroyed before your eyes. There is no way to shelter yourself from it or run away. Like the trees, you have no choice but to look on. Some of the trees were harmed while others stand still. But the trees must continue to grow. Every year they must continue producing their fruit and growing new leaves. If all the trees gave up hope and laid down to rot, there would no longer be oxygen for us to breathe or fruit for us to eat. What I'm saying is, don't give up hope. Move on for things will get better...for everyone. Even the trees."


Her gaze was returned to his face. He was crying without sound, but he was smiling. At that moment, she took him by the soul and showed him how to hope. It was 4:40 A.M.


Somewhere along the way, they had fallen asleep on the ground. Her head was on his shoulder. They were both smiling. When the sky changed from the darkest black to an early purple, the sound of awakening children sounded through the grounds.

High we exalt thee, realm of the free;
Great is the love we have for thee;
Firmly united ever we stand,
Singing thy praise, O native land.
We raise up our hearts and our voices on high,
The hills and the valleys re-echo our cry;
Blessing and peace be ever thine own,
Land that we love, our Sierra Leone.


Both sat up slowly and swiftly. She looked at him, and he looked back with a smile. She hugged him, and after a couple moments, he hugged back. They gazed into each other's eyes and cried tears of love and joy. They held hands and smiled as they walked back to the building. It was at that moment that she took him by the heart, and showed him how to love. It was 6 A.M. That is the story of Elizabeth and Tau, which means 'lion'.





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