by Michele

Unexpected Help



I am warmer now.

And I remember where I am, and what happened to me.

And now, I am in my bed. Or cot. No. It is my bed, and I have never
imagined anything could be so wonderful.

That sensation lasted perhaps five minutes.


This is how it came about that I am no longer on the floor, where I
had been so cruelly left, for truly, I could not even bring myself up
to this warm refuge on my own.

I do not know how long I remained there, in the dirt, for,
thankfully, sleep took me for a time. I only know that the pale hints
of dawn insinuated through the bars, for my sleep-crusted eyes could
just discern the strangely compassionate features of my benefactor.

I opened my eyes at the sound of my cell door being unlocked, at once
becoming acutely aware of my pain and stiffness. I looked up and saw
a lone guard standing over me, and instinctively I cowered under my
blanket, feeling all the smaller and more impotent for his towering
so far above me. For a very long, fearful moment I wondered what
torment might next be inflicted upon me, for his expression was quite

Then, suddenly a warmth came over his round face, and his hooded eyes
looked profoundly sad as he regarded me. Silently, and ever so
gently, he knelt before me and, casting one last furtive glance
toward the door, carefully and most solicitously half-carried, half-
dragged me to my cot and laid me upon it.

I was stunned.

As he adjusted my blanket over my trembling body, I found my voice.

`Why...?' I could only whisper.

My seeming guardian angel quickly crossed to the bunks across the
cell and took a blanket from the top one. As he brought it to me and
covered me with it, he spoke very softly, in very good, albeit
Spanish-accented, English.

`Senor... mi madre was inglesa. I have seen what they have done
to you. It might have been me. We lived for ten years in your
country, until just before the war. She took sick and passed on. Mi
padre, he is a Spaniard, loyal to Madrid, and we return here. I must
serve Spain, but my hope is for peace. Your plight, Senor -- it could
have been mine...'

A still-stunned `thank you' was the best I could manage.

`Please, Senor,' he concluded, `be careful. Do not give
them further reason. I must go... they must not think I have helped

`I will not tell them,' I said quietly.

`I will see you as duty permits.' He turned and approached
the door, then stopped and turned back to me, with a small, sad
smile, but with a genuine warmth in his black eyes. For a moment I
entertained a fancy that in the right circumstances, his features
might look most jovial. `Perhaps one day,' he whispered, 'we may
be friends.'

Then, he took out his ring of keys and let himself out, locking the
door behind him.

I lay in my cot looking after him, staring, of course, at that
massive door that robbed me of my life. I did not know what to think.
For the briefest moment, a warm feeling came over me -- besides that
warmth I knew from being at last in my cot, protected by two old
woolen blankets. Some one had been kind to me. Some one had touched
me with a gentle hand. I had long forgotten what such a touch was

It reminded me of home.

But the pain, numbness, and sense of horror at what I had endured
those long four weeks overtook me once more, and the warm feeling
passed, all too quickly, and all too completely.

I am NOT home. And I likely never WILL be again.

I am in prison, and, for all his kindness, that man -- and EVERY man
here -- is my enemy.

Somehow, I feel more alone now than ever.....








**Special thanks to Deirdre for her idea of this particular character
helping Archie like this.... :) :)

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