Tell A Tale in 500 Words
WHEN THE BOUGH BROKE By Susan Jones
‘I spotted your boat through my binoculars, whilst standing on the deck of a Greek cruise ship. Your flimsy vessel was laden with people: unmistakably refugees fleeing from their homeland, Syria, apparently. I saw a man stand up, grab you by one arm, spin you around over his head, and hurl you into the water. You landed many metres from the boat. A woman then stood up so hastily the small boat started to rock. I saw her mouth form into a circle of horror as she gazed at the place where you had disappeared, I could her howls of grief and despair, but only in my mind. She raised her arms and face to heaven in supplication, and my own eyes were temporarily blinded by tears. When I looked again, I saw the same man hit her so hard that she toppled into the sea. The woman lay spread-eagled on the surface of the water for some time; eventually it swallowed her up. I know she was your mother, Amad; she made no attempt to save herself because she wanted to be with you for all eternity.
‘Shortly afterwards the boat capsized and its passengers became a squirming, thrashing mass, like a great shoal of hungry fish. I later saw the body of your mother lying on the deck of the cruise ship among several others, one being the man who cast you both overboard. He committed you to the horrors of the deep and paid the ultimate price for his cruelty. But you, Amad, were miraculously saved. The lifeboat crew brought you and one hundred or so more on board our ship.
‘I paid a greedy steward what he asked to give me care of the toddler in the bright yellow sweater. It was an amount sufficient to pay for his silence regarding your presence in my cabin, and to assist me on disembarkation in England. Money speaks in an obscenely loud voice, Amad? You will learn this as you grow.
‘I called in a number of favours from influential friends, and within two months you were officially mine. The exact nature of your installation in my home is unknown to them all, but I doubt they suspect I am capable of smuggling, or human trafficking, or whatever the law calls importing an illegal immigrant. How little they know about me, about the constant ache in my heart.
‘You are the child my darling husband and I were denied in marriage, my consolation in early widowhood. The name I gave you, in the absence of another, is short for Amadeus: gift from God. That is what you truly are, my beloved boy. Amad sounds well, I feel, for a child of your heritage, a heritage I promise I will never undermine or overlook. One day you may despise me for my actions, but in the meantime, let there be warmth and peace and harmony. In the meantime, in our world, let there be love.’
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