I’d like to, but no, they aren’t.
What do you need the most apart from your family?
~ * ~ * ~
Ben slowly went
through the old mine, mindful of the low ceiling. The candle he held flickered
with every step he took and cast long fearsome shadows on the walls. Behind him
he could hear his sons shuffling along, their voices subdued and grave with
their task. Involuntarily he shivered. He didn´t want to think about it. Every
new corner they passed, every new way they tried destroyed the hopes they had
harboured for so long; and the shadows grew and mocked the little lights they
everywhere around him, looking down, teasing, and he could hear the faint
tinkling of metal. He shook his head to clear it, then
Joe stared back at him, wide-eyed. Ben froze.
heard it, too?” he whispered, too afraid he might be wrong than to speak out
nodded. Ben turned his head to the tunnel where he thought he had heard the
noise and strained his ears. Seconds went by.
Hoss, his face obscured by darkness, whispered huskily.
only imagine the arm Hoss stretched out to indicate the direction, but then he
had taken the lead, and Ben followed his frame deeper into the darkness, heart
thumping in fear what they would find.
ended abruptly after 20 yards. Ben´s eyes, adjusted to the surrounding
darkness, could see Hoss in front of him, a grey figure crouching on the
ground, and his mouth went dry. He could hear Joe taking a sharp breath behind
His voice was hoarse. Fear held him in a tight grip.
turn around, but the faint clink of metal sounded again when he bowed down.
words were carefully pronounced. “We got him.”
second, Ben didn´t feel his body, then a tight grip on his shoulder brought him
back and he sank to the ground in relief.
The words came out as a prayer of thanks as he slid over the ground, almost on
hands and knees, to reach Hoss´s side and finally made out the dark head
cradled softly in the arms of his middle son.
stopped him before he reached him.
didn´t register until he felt Joe´s hand on his shoulder. “What the…”
“He´s real bad off. We have to get him out of here first.” The urgency in Hoss´ voice
finally woke Ben from his stupor. He stumbled to his feet, hardly feeling Joe´s
“Of course…of course you´re right.” Still shaking, he took the light from Hoss and
watched as he carefully manoeuvred the limp body of his brother up into his
arms. Metal clinked again.
almost shivered at the eerie sound.
out of here.”
~ * ~ * ~
choked. He wanted to touch his son, take his hand, but he didn´t dare to. He didn´t
want to hurt Adam anymore.
fell down on the bony wrists that lay on the blanket, deeply marred from the
had found him, the shackles had been red with dried blood. Raw flesh marked the
space where they confined his son, flesh that had been excoriated so much that
the bone showed in several places.
unconsciously rubbed his hands as he looked at Adam. He had woken just outside
the mine after they had given him water. He had fought them, with every reserve
his weak body could muster, had cried out loud for help.
the hair on his arms stand on end as he remembered. Never before had he heard
such cries, low-pitched and hoarse and full of anguish. He shivered.
off”, Adam had whispered when he finally recognized his family, his eyes huge
wells of pain.
off, Ben thought. He closed his eyes at the memory, just to hold the feelings
in check that threatened to overwhelm him. Get them off, and they didn´t have
the tools they needed. Get them off. He had had to watch Adam fight desperately
against the irons that wouldn´t budge, had to watch him lose his fight.
In the end,
they reached home and freed Adam from the fetters. Unconscious
as he was, he didn´t notice, and Ben was glad. The doctor had seen Adam,
had bound his wrists and given him medicine.
at Adam. His cheekbones still showed sharply under his skin, but his face
wasn´t as ashen as when they had found him. The lashes lay still on the pale
cheeks, like black fans on ivory.
wished he could touch him. He had tried, once, to stroke a haggard shoulder,
but Adam had jerked away from him before he knew what was happening, wincing as
he did, and had stared at his father with his dark eyes full of horror.
Ben let his
head sink until his gaze fell on Adam´s hands. His son had moved them while he
slept, but only to a certain space between them – and stopped, as if the metal
was still on them, confining him.
At first he
hadn´t understood when Hoss tried to make him understand that Adam moved
“strangely-like” – but he had found out soon enough, and his heart bled.
He rubbed a
hand over his face, willing threatening tears to
subside. God help me, he thought, help me get him back. He reached out a hand
and gently touched Adam´s brow.
shot open, but he didn´t move. Instead, he stared at Ben, breathing hard,
along time in which Ben didn´t dare to move, but finally he saw Adam relax,
fractionally, until a tiny smile showed on his son´s face.
He saw his
reflection in the unfathomable golden eyes, and he saw his own hands pick up
Adam´s. The face before him flinched but he held on to the hands, clenched to
fists, and moved them apart, inch by inch.
widened. Ben could read the fear in them, but he moved their hands away from
each other, never stopping, never hesitating, beyond the space that had
restricted them for so long.
blinked. His arms relaxed, and slowly he opened his fists, grasping his
father´s hands, holding on tight. Ben looked down, and smiled, and when he
lifted his gaze, there were tears in Adam´s eyes, and he knew he had won.
~ * ~ * ~