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A Dream Deferred - Chapter 26

January 05, 2015 12:35AM
A/N: Happy new year! If you don't check the TR, I posted a personal update there to explain my tardiness. Thanks for understanding and all the nice messages! A link to the previous chapter is here. The camp described in this chapter is real, and you can read more about it at the UNHCR's website. The events described here are fictional, but inspired by some real life events that occurred at the camp.

Thanks again for all the support.


~~

CHAPTER 26

The darkness enveloped them almost completely. Sunrise was still more than an hour away, yet the sky betrayed no hint of the revolution of light that was about to accost it with a force that was as overwhelming as it was unavoidable. The optimist was likely to claim this inevitability of dawn as evidence that even the darkest hour would have to one day end. But to Elizabeth, dawn was just another reminder that the truly powerful were virtually impossible to stop. She glanced at the passenger seat, marveling once again at the level of commitment to the story exhibited by her travel companion. He appeared almost disheveled with his tousled hair and noticeable stubble perfectly complemented by a pair of simple, dark jeans and an old T-shirt. She had never seen him like this before, so casual and so far from impeccable. It was almost as though the media mogul had never existed. Instead, he was just another journalist, penniless and powerless, unconcerned by appearances, motivated solely by the version of the truth he permitted himself to seek. Elizabeth found the idea of this Darcy oddly appealing - not because he was pretending to be someone he was not, but because he cared enough to even try.

Darcy noticed her furtive glances and finally said, “Are you going to say something or will you just steal glances at me the whole drive?”

Elizabeth smiled as she returned her attention to the road ahead. “I’m not used to seeing you like this.”

“You told me not to wear a suit.”

“I didn’t even know you owned T-shirts, Will.”

“There’s a lot you don’t know about me.” Darcy paused, but Elizabeth said nothing, so he said, “I spoke to Ed last night.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah. He relayed all your concerns. Again. And offered me the opportunity to reconsider.”

“But you didn’t,” said Elizabeth.

“Reconsider? No. I want to do this.”

“Yeah. I got that when you showed up at my door,” said Elizabeth. “I guess I should brief you.”

“If you wouldn’t mind.”

Elizabeth looked at him for a moment, then said, “We’re going to the Zaatari refugee camp. It’s about 10 kilometers east of Mafraq.”

“And the camp is for Syrian refugees?”

“Yes. It opened in 2012. At its peak, the camp was home to almost 200,000 refugees. But now the UNHCR says the number is closer to 80,000.”

“Where did all those people go?”

“Some went back to Syria. Others went to live with friends or relatives. These camps are a lifeline for the shell shocked, but they have massive problems. Basic food, water and shelter are all major concerns. Not to mention organized crime.”

“What kind of crime?”

“Smuggling. Drug dealing. Prostitution. You name it. For a while, the camp was basically run by these mafia-like organizations.” Elizabeth paused. “Human beings can be quite enterprising. It still surprises me sometimes.”

After a moment of silence, Darcy said, “These mafia groups…- they still around?”

“Yes, but they’ve been neutralized. That’s the UN’s word, not mine,” said Elizabeth with a smirk. “The guy in charge, a UNHCR official by the name of Killian Kleinschmidt, started talking to these groups and coordinating with community organizers at the grassroots level.”

“And he’s been successful?”

“To an extent, yes. But these places are full of transients. Nothing stays the same forever.”

“I see,” said Darcy, relapsing into a contemplative silence once again.

“Globally,” said Elizabeth. “The number of displaced people has topped 50 million for the first time since World War II. Bet you didn’t know there was a refugee crisis.”

“No,” said Darcy, his cheeks flush with embarrassment at his ignorance.

Elizabeth noticed the contrition in his voice, so she said, “Don’t feel bad. It’s not the kind of statistic that stays prominent for more than a news cycle. Refugees are the byproduct of war. And these days, wars tend to be unending, so there are no easy solutions. Returning home is not always an option. And resettlement can be tough. The host countries tend to be poor and resource constrained themselves. Refugees impose enormous strains on the system. Jordan is a great example.”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, Jordan has a population of about 6.5 million. 2 to 3 million are Palestinian refugees, many of whom have full citizenship.”

“You’re saying half of Jordan’s population is comprised of refugees?”

“Well, they’re not refugees anymore. It’s been a long time since 1948, and many of them are fully integrated in society, although some still live in refugee camps. But Jordan has 200,000 or so Iraqi refugees as well as 600,000 Syrian refugees, so you can see, the numbers add up quickly for such a small country.”

“And I assume those numbers are fairly fluid?”

“Indeed.” Elizabeth nodded. “The local population tends to be wary of the refugees because of the toll they take on government services and the economy. But things are about to get a whole lot worse, I think.”

“How?”

“Given everything that’s going on in Syria and Iraq, I doubt that Jordan will allow its borders to remain so porous. Which means a lot of refugees are about to be stranded at the border.”

“I don’t understand. Why would Jordan close its borders now?”

“Security concerns. There is a credible threat that militants will be able to seek refuge in one of these camps undetected.”

“Is that really possible?”

“Yes. In fact, I know that it is.”

Darcy looked at her in stunned silence. “You’re not suggesting…-?”

Elizabeth nodded. “Officially, we’re going to Zaatari to get an update on the situation there.”

“And unofficially?”

“We’re meeting one of the former leaders of the Sunni insurgency that erupted during the Iraq war.” Elizabeth paused. “I embedded with his people for a little while. I got to know them - and him. I began to understand him in a way. You could say we established a relationship of trust.”

“Oh.” Darcy absorbed her words. “What is he doing in Jordan?”

“Hiding, I think. From ISIS. There’s a turf war going on behind the scenes. Many Sunni leaders are on ISIS’ hit list due to substantial disagreements about…- well, pretty much everything. I don’t believe Abdul is a terrorist. That seems like a strange statement given his background, but I think he took up arms to defend his people. I don’t think he’d condone mass slaughter of innocent civilians in the name of Allah.”

“You sure about that?” said Darcy.

“No. But I don’t always have the luxury of certainty. Sometimes I have to trust my gut.”

“And what is your gut telling you?”

“That I need to meet him. Hear what he has to say.”

“So this piece you’re writing…- it has nothing to do with the refugee camp?”

“Not exactly. I’ll do a short write-up on the camp. But the main piece I’m working on is about the broader Shia-Sunni struggle sweeping the region.”

“And you think…- Abdul will have a useful perspective to share?”

“He’s been in the trenches of this war for almost a decade now. I think it’s safe to say his perspective will be quite useful.”

“Yeah,” said Darcy. “I imagine you’re right. How did you find him?”

“A reporter never reveals her sources,” said Elizabeth with a smile.

“Well, I guess I see why you didn’t want me to come.”

“You can still change your mind, you know. I could drop you off at the nearest bus station.”

“You’re not getting rid of me that easily,” said Darcy.

“You don’t have to be a hero, Will.”

“Pretending to be you for a day does not make me a hero, Liz.”

“Your stubborn streak is not at all charming,” said Elizabeth with a sigh. “Well, fine. Consider yourself briefed. You can catch a nap if you want. We still have a little while to go before the border.”

The balance of the journey to the border was quiet and uneventful. The usually loquacious Elizabeth was consumed by scraps of memories scattered in her brain like a jigsaw puzzle - snippets of hushed conversations over freshly brewed tea, sleepless nights spent transcribing a narrowly missed mortar attack and endless days in the scorching desert heat spent pondering the absurdity of it all. She scoured this melange of disparate recollections for anything useful that would give her an edge over her interview subject. Journalism was a delicate dance of dominance, a battle over the subjective lens through which the supposedly objective facts would be viewed. And it was her job to ensure that her lens did not get skewed by the agenda of another. That goal was not as easy as it first appeared for it was nearly impossible to erect the kind of emotional fence that impartiality generally required. But Elizabeth found that meticulous preparation and an unwavering focus on the task at hand at least helped squash the impulses that threatened to betray her integrity. And the uncomfortable silence that pervaded the car was just the latest addition to the long list of collateral damage incurred at the altar of a better story.

The Jordan River crossing that connected Beit She’an, Israel to Irbid, Jordan was always a busy hub, and today was no exception. The elaborate web of checkpoints seemed daunting, but Elizabeth had vast experience with the security apparatus of the region, so their passage was relatively straightforward. After all the papers were examined, bags were searched and fees were paid, Darcy and Elizabeth emerged in Jordan just as the day was getting started. The sun was now high in the sky, and it was already quite hot. The relentless combination of dust and sand danced around them, thick and strong, coating their lips with the gritty scum of the desert. Elizabeth reflexively reached for her bottle of water, even though she knew that the kind of thirst this heat evinced was not easily quenched. Her throat felt dry, almost as though she had been wandering in the desert for months. The desert had a way of claiming her with the absolute authority of a tyrant, wilful and unyielding, determined to rob her of any sense of agency. And yet, lulled by the inviting songs whispered into her ears by the arid gusts, she felt an almost inexplicable fondness for the desert. No matter how foreign or uninviting or uncomfortable, this, too, was home.

“You were impressive back there,” said Darcy, finally breaking their silence.

“You are too easily impressed, Will.”

“I knew you spoke Arabic, but it’s something else to see you in action.”

Elizabeth smiled. “My liberal arts education was good for something, after all.”

“What made you want to learn Arabic?”

“It was accidental, really. I studied French in high school and adored it. Stayed with it in college. I spent a semester abroad in Morocco - primarily to study French - and sort of fell in love with Arabic while I was there. I appreciated the way it sounded, how emotive and passionate it was. I had always planned on studying French and international relations. It took a bit of juggling to add Arabic to the mix, but I’m so glad I did. It has served me well over the years.”

“Arabic is tough to learn, no?”

Elizabeth shrugged. “Languages have always come rather naturally to me.”

Darcy gave her an unabashed look of adoration. “Like I said, impressive.”

Elizabeth blushed. “I didn’t mean to brag.”

“You’re just stating facts. And I asked.”

“You did,” said Elizabeth. In a bid to escape his piercing gaze, she looked straight ahead. “We should be there in a couple of hours.”

The road to Mafraq was relatively desolate, sparsely decorated by the occasional vendor selling fruits and coffee out of a decrepit old cart. They drove in companionable silence, hypnotized by the barren landscape stretching out for miles around the highway. As they approached Zaatari, signs began to appear for the crossings into Syria. In the peaceful moments at night, the artillery fire from across the border could be heard in the villages around Zaatari. A solemn reminder for all those who had managed to escape that there would be no home standing upon their return. Until a few years ago, Zaatari had been just a sleepy village with nothing much in its vicinity but a Royal Jordanian Air Force base. And now it was home to one of the largest refugee camps in the world. A dubious distinction, but one that had put Zaatari on the map for the international aid community. For better or worse, the camp had become a symbol of the humanitarian cost of the Syrian civil war. And it was becoming increasingly obvious that there was nothing temporary about either the camp or the war.

The car arrived at the camp gate and a soldier rapped on Elizabeth’s window. Elizabeth handed him their documents, which he studied in silence for a few minutes. After a long, suspicious glance at Darcy, he finally waved them in. They drove to the parking lot under the watchful eye of Royal Jordanian Army officers. The camp was bustling with honking cars and impatient motorcycles interspersed with street vendors and young children wandering in search of a purpose. As they parked the car, Elizabeth started giving Darcy a quick overview of the camp. What had begun as a UN-sponsored temporary shelter for war-scarred refugees had evolved into a complex urban ecosystem, more akin to a slum than a camp. There were unauthorized businesses selling everything from coffee and sweets to bridal dresses and washing machines. The central boulevard in the camp that housed shops, schools and clinics was known to residents and aid workers as Champs-Elysees. The informal economy was powered by electricity stolen from the grid to the tune of $750,000 a month. The residents had organized themselves into social classes, much as they would at home. There was gentrification and wealth disparity at Zaatari with rich businessmen living in relatively lavish accommodations while some families survived with 10 or more people in a cramped tent. Amidst the chaos and deprivation, the camp had come to approach something resembling normality.

As they walked on the Champs-Elysees, Elizabeth said, “Newer camps built after the Zaatari experience are meant to avoid the mistakes made here.”

“Meaning?” said Darcy, his eyes wandering around in fascination.

“The ground-up urbanism of a place like this is messy and unruly, and the authorities have had a tough time keeping things under control. Places like Azraq are much more strictly policed with dirt floors, no electricity and corrugated metal shelters in almost military order.”

“I see. And this place is just a tad bit more chaotic.”

Elizabeth nodded. “Indeed. Much more dynamic and frankly, interesting. But the Jordanians won’t make this mistake again.”

The boulevard smelled like nothing Darcy had ever encountered before - a combination of sweat, cigarettes, sewage and meat roasting on spits. There was life bursting from every inch of the camp. Young men were standing idly in front of shops drinking coffee. Women were sweeping the dirt away from their storefronts, taking pride in the meager possessions fate had allowed them to keep. Schoolchildren dressed in uniforms were eating fast melting ice cream with the kind of relish that belonged to the innocent. There was a frenetic energy in the air that Darcy had not expected from a place housing refugees without home or country. The poverty was palpable as was the enterprise, and it was a fascinating combination. Darcy had always thought that he had seen the world, and he almost laughed at his own naivete born out of a sheltered and privileged existence. This, this was the real world, nuanced and complex, filled with joy and hardship and sorrow and unspeakable horror. He thought of his own normal filled with ski vacations and expensive schools and felt his bile rise. Perhaps it was just the heat or the smells, but he felt sick. He glanced at Elizabeth, who seemed at ease in her surroundings. She belonged here, perhaps more than she did at a fancy party in New York. He could see it in her face, the way her eyes lit up as she spoke to some shop owners, the way the Arabic rolled off her tongue, the way her lips curled up in a smile. Everything else in her life was trivial compared to this moment. She was meant to be in places like this, telling the stories that were forgotten, recording the history that the world would rather not know. She tilted her head and smiled at him, her cheeks flushed from the sun. And Darcy thought that he had never seen something quite so beautiful before.

They arrived at a shop selling pizza, and Elizabeth stepped in to chat with the man behind the counter. Recalling that he was supposed to be a photographer, Darcy began to take pictures, first of the store and then of the large sign hanging from the front door advertising the joint’s fast delivery service. He looked back at Elizabeth, who seemed engrossed in conversation, and decided to take a walk. As he stepped outside the shop, he almost collided with a bike, whose rider was a boy of 9 or 10. The boy spewed some angry words in Arabic at him, which Darcy assumed were choice words of admonishment at his recklessness. After catching his breath, he walked a few steps and stopped in front of a travel agency that apparently provided pickup service at the airport. In front of the store sat a young woman dressed in jeans, a long shirt and a headscarf. She locked eyes with Darcy, and after a moment’s hesitation, flashed a bashful smiled. Without a second thought, Darcy reached for his camera and began taking her picture. She was young, perhaps 13 or 14, and there was an innocence in her eyes twinged with a deep sadness that even her smile could not erase. It was jarring to see her in a place like this, robbed of any sense of childhood. He thought of his sister at 14 and how young she had been then, how carefree and clueless, how fiercely protected. That such protection did not exist for all the children in the world had always been a theoretical fact relegated to history books and news reports. Witnessing it up close in the middle of this sweltering slum was quite a different matter altogether. Suddenly, a loud yelling emanated from within the store and an older man, presumably the young girl’s father, appeared. He seemed angry, and instinctively, Darcy took a step back. The girl seemed terrified and practically ran into the store. The man began to walk toward Darcy, his yelling now accompanied by wild gestures. Darcy felt the sweat drip from his forehead, and he prepared to run.

Out of nowhere, Elizabeth appeared by his side. She began talking to the man and gesturing in return. After a few minutes of what seemed like an elaborate negotiation, she turned to Darcy and said, “Will, give me the camera.”

Still dazed, Darcy said, “What?”

“Give me the camera, Will!” Elizabeth shouted. He handed over the camera and watched in silence as Elizabeth continued talking to the shop owner. After looking at the screen for a few moments, the shop owner stopped yelling and with a last deadly look at Darcy, returned to his store. Elizabeth sighed and turned to Darcy. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Darcy found his voice. “I don’t know…- I was just taking pictures.”

“Will, you can’t take pictures of young girls without permission.”

“Oh… I didn’t know.”

“Well, now you know.”

“What did you have to do to get him to calm down?”

“I deleted the picture and promised to fire you.”

“Oh.”

“Will, this kind of thing can get you killed, you understand?”

Darcy nodded. “I…- I get it.”

“These people have been violated in every way imaginable. They don’t take kindly to having their last shreds of dignity torn away by strange Westerners ostensibly profiting from their misery.”

“I, ah…- I understand. I’m sorry, Liz.”

Elizabeth’s voice softened. “Just stay close, will you?”

Darcy simply nodded in response. He was not planning on leaving her side again.

After interviewing a few more shop owners, they began to move away from the boulevard and toward what appeared to be a residential neighborhood. They walked past rows and rows of prefabricated houses and tents until they reached a somewhat secluded spot. Directly ahead of them stood a large house protected by formidable men undoubtedly carrying weapons. Elizabeth approached the house and spoke to one of the guards, while Darcy stood in silence, looking around nervously. After a few minutes, Elizabeth and Darcy were shown inside and offered coffee, which they politely declined. They sat alone in silence for a while, and then finally, a tall imposing man sporting white linen clothes and a beard appeared and immediately greeted Elizabeth. Elizabeth returned his greeting and began to speak rapidly, and Darcy deduced that they were in the presence of Abdul Sharif. The conversation continued for over an hour in Arabic. Elizabeth spoke and listened and took notes, while Darcy just took in his environs. The house was grander than most that they had seen so far. It had been cobbled together from shelters, tents and cinder blocks and sported an interior courtyard and a satellite dish. There was electricity and judging from the toilet he spied in the corner, indoor plumbing. Relatively luxurious given the circumstance, and for a second, Darcy forgot he was in a refugee camp. Even Zaatari, it appeared, could not escape from the curse of the haves and the have nots.

Suddenly, they heard a commotion outside and one of the guards appeared. Judging from his animated tone, something was happening. Darcy looked at Elizabeth, who was talking even more rapidly than normal. Another minute of suspense, and then, she rose from her seat and looked at him. “Will, we have to go.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Apparently one of the army vehicles hit a child. There’s a mob forming. There may be another riot. We have to get out of here.”

“Oh…- ok.”

“We’re going to go out the back and try to reach the car from the eastern periphery.” Elizabeth paused. “Don’t worry. I’ll get us out of here, ok?

“I’m not worried,” said Darcy. And he wasn’t. He had Elizabeth.

They walked out of the house with hurried steps, and when they were outside, they could hear the mob forming in the distance. The sounds were chilling, all angry shouts and broken glass and teeming crowds. The paved road in front of them seemed deserted, so they continued wordlessly on their path until they turned a corner and practically ran into a large crowd. They could hear the tear gas and warning shots in the distance, but those measures were not instruments of calm at this juncture. Elizabeth and Darcy watched in horror as a car was lit on fire, and the crowd descended into a chorus of angry chants. Elizabeth exchanged a quick glance with Darcy and clenched her fingers. She motioned him to follow her and began to walk furiously away from the crowd. As the mob thickened, her fast walk broke into a run, and she pushed her way through the disenchanted and the aggrieved, fighting her instinct to stay and document the chaos. She looked back at Darcy and saw a sea of frenzied faces instead. She stopped and screamed his name, but her voice was lost in the collective voices of discontent echoing all around her. Fearing the worst, she started running back toward the crowd and finally saw Darcy on the ground surrounded by an angry mob. And just like that, all the noises receded into the background, and all Elizabeth could hear was her own silent panic.

Elizabeth stood, silent and motionless, paralyzed by a tsunami of powerlessness as the old traumas came rushing back to remind her of her crimes. She was back in that market in Baghdad, witnessing the forces of anarchy claim the life of another because of her - her hubris, her recklessness, her luck. Her therapist often said that grief was a process, that loss was a slow healing scar, but the truth was far messier. What no one ever told her was that loss was like undergoing surgery without anesthesia, that she would feel every prod, every poke, that she would experience the pain unfiltered by analgesics. And that the pain would not be dulled or dampened by the passage of time or the change of scenery. She lived with it every day and rightfully so. It was to be her only penance, her only punishment for having survived. Living with such profound melancholy was a tricky affair. The pangs of guilt and sorrow intruded on her consciousness at the most inopportune times, but she rather liked the reminder of the things that she had lost. It was like breathing, seldom noticed or acknowledged until it became labored. So it was with grief, always present, but only noticed when the weight of memories made it difficult for her to ignore that she had surrendered a piece of her soul forever. And as all the grief, all the loss washed over her once again, she realized she was not prepared to lose yet another piece of her soul.

Elizabeth found her footing and began pushing her way through the mob. The crowd was angry at something and everything, and it seemed that a Western face was enough to invite its wrath. She began to yell loudly in Arabic, explaining that they were on the refugees’ side, that they were just journalists, that they were only trying to shed light on the plight of the Syrians. When she finally reached Darcy, she found him lying in a defensive position, blood flowing from his arms and head, his injuries of uncertain magnitude. Darcy looked up to see her standing in front of him and said something unintelligible. Elizabeth shook her head at him and continued screaming in Arabic; explaining, cajoling, pleading. The crowd either did not hear or did not care about her declarations, and for a moment, she was sure that they would both die there. The mob pressed closer toward them both, and she closed her eyes. She had not imagined it ending this way. All of a sudden, loud noises from about 30 feet away broke through the mayhem, and she opened her eyes. A Jordanian armored vehicle was approaching them, and the mob dissipated as rapidly as it had formed. Elizabeth crouched in front of Darcy and asked if he could walk. He nodded, so she lifted him to his feet, held his hand firmly, and together, they ran.

The chaos had spread to almost every corner of the camp, but Elizabeth and Darcy encountered no more hostile mobs, and soon, they were at the car. Elizabeth opened the passenger side of the car and made Darcy sit down. “You’re hurt,” she said.

Darcy looked up at her. “It’s not so bad.”

“Will, you’re bleeding.” Elizabeth found the first aid kit she carried in the trunk of her car and began to clean his wounds. He had cuts and bruises on his arms and face, and his T-shirt was ripped.

“I…- “ His voice was shaking.

“Shhhh, stop talking. Let me finish.” Her tone was calm, efficient, professional. Another 5 minutes of first aid and a quick physical exam later, she said, “Nothing’s broken, I think. You’re going straight to a doctor when we get back. I want you checked out for a concussion. The cuts are fairly superficial, but you’ll want to get a tetanus shot.” She paused. “You look a lot worse than you are.”

“Thanks.... I think.” He smiled.

“This isn’t funny.”

“I know.”

“You could have died out there.”

“I know.”

“I didn’t want you to come. Why does no one listen to me?”

“Liz, I’m sorry. It was my fault. I fell behind.”

Her calm demeanour had evaporated, and tears were beginning to form in her eyes. “Why didn’t you just trust me when I told you not to come?”

Darcy stood up, looked at her for a second, and then reached out to give her a hug. He held her close and felt her arms tighten around him. “I’m sorry.’

“I almost lost you, Will,” she said through her tears, her head buried in his chest.

“I’m sorry.”

“I can’t do this again.”

He had no words of comfort to offer. “I know. I’m sorry.”

“I can’t do this again,” she said. “I can’t…- I can’t do this again.” She was trembling. They held each other for another minute, and when they parted, Elizabeth avoided Darcy’s eyes. She wiped the tears off her face and walked to the driver’s side of the car. Before getting into the car, in a steadier voice, she said, “Let’s get out of here.”

They drove in silence for a while, uncomfortable silence that felt like salt on a fresh wound. Finally, Darcy said, “Liz, I…-”

“You’re not going to apologize again, are you?”

Darcy smiled. “If it’ll make you feel better.”

“Nothing’s going to make me feel better.”

“Liz…-”

“I’d rather not talk about this right now.”

“I’m ok, Liz. You said so yourself.”

“Yeah.”

“You’re angry at me.”

“Yes… no.” She sighed. “I’m angry at everything.”

“You wish you hadn’t come?”

“No. I’m glad I came. I got what I needed from my interviews.”

“Oh. So you just wish I wasn’t here?”

“Yeah.”

“I’ll try not to take it personally.”

Elizabeth finally tore her eyes from the road and looked at Darcy. “You don’t get it, do you? If I had been a minute late or if the army hadn’t showed up…-”

“Things would have been much worse. No, I know. I get it.” Darcy paused. “But you do this all the time. You put yourself in danger, in situations infinitely more volatile than this. How do you do it, Liz?”

“It’s just who I am, Will. I know what I’m doing, and I can handle myself. And if - when - I die, I don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for me. I’ll have lived my life on my terms. And that’s all I want.”

“Well, I’m also here because I wanted to be here. I’m not going to lie. I was scared out of my mind. I really thought I was going to die. And maybe you’re right. Maybe it was reckless of me to come. But I’m glad I did. I learned so much today… things I couldn’t have imagined. That’s worth something, right?”

Elizabeth shook her head. “Nothing is worth your life, Will.”

“It’s worth your life, then why not mine?”

“This isn’t some kind of vanity exercise, Will.” Elizabeth felt her pulse race. “This isn’t some trophy for you to put up along with whatever other accolades you’ve accumulated in your highly decorated existence. This is real life. It’s messy and it’s dirty and it’s dangerous. And people like you don’t belong here.”

“You don’t believe that,” said Darcy, his voice subdued. “You’re just angry.”

“I…- yeah, fine, I’m angry.”

“You’re angry because you almost lost me, and you said you couldn’t do that again.”

“Don’t flatter yourself.”

“Liz.”

“What?”

“Please, just talk to me.”

Elizabeth felt her chest tighten. “I can’t.”

“Please.”

“No, Will, you don’t understand. I can’t. Not right now. I owe you an explanation, I know. I’m sorry. But I can’t talk. Not yet.”

“Ok.”

“Ok?” She raised her eyebrow.

“Ok.” Darcy nodded. “But there is one more thing I need to apologize for.”

“Yeah, what’s that?”

“I broke your camera.”

Elizabeth looked at him, and for the first time in hours, she smiled.
SubjectAuthorPosted

A Dream Deferred - Chapter 26

TanishaJanuary 05, 2015 12:35AM

Re: A Dream Deferred - Chapter 26

janasheOctober 21, 2015 05:12PM

Re: A Dream Deferred - Chapter 26

Lucy J.January 09, 2015 06:11AM

Re: A Dream Deferred - Chapter 26

EvansJanuary 07, 2015 10:50AM

Re: A Dream Deferred - Chapter 26

EsteeJanuary 06, 2015 07:34PM

Re: A Dream Deferred - Chapter 26

DylangraceJanuary 06, 2015 02:53AM

Re: A Dream Deferred - Chapter 26

EliseJanuary 05, 2015 11:50PM

Re: A Dream Deferred - Chapter 26

jancatJanuary 05, 2015 05:52PM

Re: A Dream Deferred - Chapter 26

ShannaGJanuary 05, 2015 05:03PM

Re: A Dream Deferred - Chapter 26

LisetteJanuary 05, 2015 09:26AM

Just curious

LisetteJanuary 05, 2015 09:31AM

Re: Just curious

TanishaJanuary 05, 2015 02:37PM

Re: Just curious

LisetteJanuary 05, 2015 07:10PM

Re: A Dream Deferred - Chapter 26

Debra McJanuary 05, 2015 05:36AM



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