Broken (Fixing Amanda)

Beyond the cracked side walk, and the telephone pole with layers of flyers in a rainbow of colors, and the patch of dry brown grass, there stood a ten-foot high concrete block wall, caked with dozens of coats of paint. There was a small shrine at the foot of it, with burnt out candles, dead flowers and a few soggy teddy bears. One word of graffiti filled the wall, red letters on a gold background: Rejoice!

 Hannah stared at the word of graffiti, It had no bearing on her state of mind; there was absolutely no reason to be joyful.  It hurt to think that her parents had died while trying to save their two children from the civil war at Bonmay. Some of her friends also lost their lives while others had gone missing courtesy of the psychotic monster; Gordon Smith.

That horror filled day when disaster struck remained vivid in Hannah’s mind. It had started out like every other Monday morning, students of Lily High had assembled at the quadrangle to discuss the inter house sports event that was fast approaching; no one had an inclination of the tragedy that was to become of the day.

 Students hurried back to their classrooms to avoid getting in late, the school had strict rules on punctuality. Hannah had signed up for the Foods and Nutrition (F&N) class; she had gradually worked her way into becoming the star student of the class, this was ironic considering she previously knew nothing about cooking. The class was her most loved solely because she got to meet amazing individuals like Miss Amanda Cole; her teacher. Miss Cole had always made her feel special, and according to Hannah, she was the nicest teacher alive.

The F&N students had gotten special recognition as the most productive and dedicated class in the school. Amanda Cole; their ever able and hardworking teacher was the master mind behind the efficacy of the class. She toiled day and night and night to create new recipes each week. All she ever spoke of was the restaurant she planned to open later in the future.

The aroma that emanated from the school’s kitchen wasn’t one to be ignored; Hannah’s team had decided to make stewed beans and chicken soup.  Everything seemed to be going fine; the meal was in its final stage of cooking. Hannah and her friends seized the opportunity to take pictures in their chef uniforms, they were definitely proud of how far they had come.

 As soon as the meals were ready, they were beautifully garnished by each team for Amanda’s attention. Hannah, Lola, Susan and Jack were convinced they had nabbed the award for the best meal already; after all, they were the perfect team. Amanda had always praised them for following instructions and making the best meals.

The whole class giggled as she walked past each meal, she was about to announce the winners when she was rudely interrupted by a loud thud on the door. Three hefty military men walked into the kitchen, all heavily armed and far from friendly.  They lined everyone up and started a thorough search; no one knew what they were searching for. Apparently the school’s security had been breached; a few of the security guards who had tried to perform heroic acts had been shot dead.

As we all stood tremulous and fear filled, the picture became clearer. These millitary men were on the look out for a particular wristband; all those who were unfortunate to have the bands on them were separated from the others. Jack was one of the culprits. His hands were immediately bound and lips sealed before he was practically forced out of the school’s kitchen.

This controversial wrist band had been previously distributed to families as a symbol of rebellion against Gordon Smith. Gordon Smith was an authoritarian president who gave no voice to the masses; he was a pyscho who thrived on the pain and suffering of his people. Those who boldly opposed him were tagged rebels. Other families who were too feeble to protest,  conformed to his leadership style with no opposition.   

Amanda was rounded up, though she wasn’t caught with said wrist band; one of the hefty men however recognized her as the daughter of the rebels’ leader. They concluded that she would serve as a great asset to luring the rebellious gang into full submission.  They also knew that her father would want her to remain alive considering the nasty  incident with his wife years back.

One of the students who was in possession of a wrist band tried to hide his just before he was searched, the military men were provoked by his stupidity, and he was shot dead instantly. Everyone in the kitchen cringed after the gory incident, the students were frightened and some passed out.

It took almost thirty minutes to complete their search, after which, the rebels were forced into millitary pick up vans. The school was in disarray when the vans drove off. It was a no brainer when the principal announced the temporary shutdown of the school.

Apparently, several military men had been disbursed round the country in search of rebels as ordered by the President. A few of the rebels had gotten prior information of the plot against them and had gone into hiding. Unfortunately, a huge number of them fell right into Gordon’s trap. They had been on the verge of a seemingly successful coup before their plans were ruined.

The media houses were buzzing with news of the attack on the rebels, the whole country was in a state of unrest and strict curfews had been imposed. The search for rebels was to continue until all the major leaders were caught. The President; Gordon Smith had resorted to giving out reward money to all those who were ready to snitch on the rebels. He had put together his ruthless group of militants to ensure he was never devoid of power.

Gordon Smith had served under the regime of the former President of the Bonmay; he was at the time the vice president of the country who successfully planned the execution of his predecessor. The people of Bonmay had no choice they succumbed to his authoritarian style of leadership for fear of his wrath. He had been president for almost ten years and had no desire to give up the title.

 Bonmay citizens lived like slaves in their country; they were threatened by Gordon’s soldiers at every given opportunity. No one was free to talk about the terrible and unjust style of ruling Gordon Smith had imposed on them. Anyone who was caught bad mouthing the Government was to be shot instantly by the soldiers.

The masses had lost hope of a better future for their country, until Mr. Cole decided he was done with the silence. He initially led a riot to protest the appalling lack of freedom in the country. What however started out as a peaceful protest speedily turned into a major blood bath. Gordon’s puppets in military uniforms killed many of the protesters while some escaped with severe injuries.

It was as though Gordon Smith wanted to rule Bonmay for as long as he lived. He severed all ties with neighboring countries, especially those who cautioned him about his style of ruling. The protest did not go without its setbacks on the citizens; Gordon thought it wise to reduce the minimum wage in the nation to half it’s initial sum to punish them.

Hannah’s parents had travelled out of the country before the Bonmay crises. Hannah and her sister were left in the care of their Aunty. Her parents’ trip was to last for two weeks. After spending a week out, they got word about the happenings in the country. Without giving their plans much thought, or obtaining full details of the situation, Hannah’s parents flew back to Bonmay in a bid to rescue their children. They were unaware of the curfew that had been imposed on the citizens. Just like all other offenders, her parents were killed on the streets during curfew hours. Hannah was devastated, she hadn’t even gotten the chance to bid her parents goodbye. Annabel; her younger sister didn’t take the news too well either; it was a nightmare they both wished they could awaken from.

The whole of Bonmay lived in agony with no idea on how to fight back or overthrow the devil who had made himself a mini God in their land. The rebels who escaped capturing were in hiding but they had definitely not been silenced. Mr. Cole gathered the strong and courageous of them in a secret hideout to discuss their plans to take out Gordon Smith.

They really did not have the numbers that was required to execute the task, they however, had the advantage of a few insiders in the presidential villa. Some of Gordon’s soldiers had agreed to join their coup plot.  They planned to strike at night, Gordon’s loyal puppets would be least suspecting at this time.

Mr. Cole had always been a human right activist who stood for whatsoever he believed in, unfortunately, his path as an activist had cost him the life of his beloved wife.

He was well aware of his daughter who had been held captive by the soldiers, the thought of losing her made him weary. His two daughters were all he had left, but he had to step up to fight for the freedom of his people, especially since no one else was willing to lead the revolution. The only feasible approach to taking power from Gordon Smith was ending his miserable life; he had to atone for his horrendous sins.

On the night of the attack, the rebels got into the villa unnoticed and located the other rebels who had been captured. Those in captivity had been deprived of food and kept under deplorable conditions, some of them had fallen ill and died in the process.

Unfortunately Mr. Cole’s daughter had been among those who lost their lives. He was distraught when he got the news; he decided to do everything possible to take Gordon down. Gordon Smith was eventually killed in a cross fire between the rebels and his soldiers, Mr. Cole; the revolution leader also lost his life.

A shrine was set up at the foot of a huge concrete wall close to Mr. Coles’ residence in honor of the fallen citizens of the country. The shrine was Hannah’s sacred place; she believed there was a strong connection with her parents each time she passed by it. She therefore made it a duty to visit the shrine as much as she could.

Hannah noticed on one of the days she passed by, that a gigantic statue of Mr. Cole had been erected right next to the concrete wall. It was actually fascinating to see that Mr. Cole was being honored like the true hero that he was. At that moment she remembered all her loved ones who had lost their lives including her favorite teacher; Miss Amanda Cole, It was sad to know that she would never get to see any of them again.

A week after the statue was erected, Hannah visted the shrine again. as she was about to leave, something peculiar happened, an automobile pulled up and parked beside the concrete wall. The driver opened the door, but did not get out of the car. Although her face was hidden, it was easy to tell that she was sad. There was something about how she turned away from the sun and rested the weight of her hand on the steering wheel, something about her silent composure that caused Hannah to sigh. The young girl watched the driver lean out of the car and stretch her hand out towards one of the burned out candles.

She seemed like she was trying to connect with one of her loved ones who had been killed. She took a whole fifteen minutes before getting out of the vehicle. Hannah got the shock of her life when she saw the lady who had alighted from the automobile. It was her Foods &Nutrition teacher, the news of her death had gotten to everyone in the school, she was said to have died from food poisoning while in captivity. Hannah was dazed, she tried to get closer to the concrete wall to get a better view.

She was definitely not hallucinating; it was her school teacher in flesh and blood. It had been almost two months since the civil war in Bonmay, the list of people who had died during the war had been compiled by the Government before the mass burial. Amanda and her father had been top of the list. It was strange that Miss Amanda Cole failed to correct the wrong notion of her death.

Amanda walked up to her father’s statue and caressed it with her fingers; she already had tears in eyes. She mumbled a few words of regret as tears poured like raindrops down her cheeks. Hannah rushed to the concrete wall to confront her, Amanda had been too engrossed in her mourning, and took no notice of her unwanted guest.

It took a tap on Amanda’s arm to get her attention; she was shocked to see Hannah. There was something about the way she looked; it was as though she had been through hell and back. Hannah knew something had changed; she certainly didn’t come across as the pleasant and ever smiling teacher she used to know. “I can’t believe you are alive Miss Cole,” Hannah screamed before hugging her, Amanda however, pulled out of the hug immediately.

She practically ran into her vehicle and drove off without a word. Hannah was stunned; she didn’t know what to make of the incident. Amanda had been sorely missed at school. The F&N classes had been cancelled due to the school’s inability to find someone with as much passion to replace Amanda. Jack had mentioned that she had been separated and kept in a solitary confinement during their stay in Gordon Smith’s prison. Then they heard she had died of food poisoning.

Hannah was lost in thought as she walked back to her Aunty’s apartment. After the death of her parents, Sarah who was her mother’s next of kin had been forced to take custody of both Hannah and her sister; Annabel. Sarah wasn’t particularly happy about the forced custody of her sister’s children, she was still in college and was in no way prepared to cater for anyone else but herself.

The next day at school, Hannah called Jack aside to ask him about the events at Gordon’s prison. He was initially reluctant to relieve the horrible experience, until she told him all that had happened the previous day. He found it difficult to believe Miss Amanda Cole was alive; the news of her death had circulated through the prisons.

 Many of the inmates had refused to eat the prison foods for the fear of being the next victims. Hannah described the terrible state she had met their supposed ‘dead’ teacher the previous day. It was then Jack began to wonder if she was tortured or even molested during her Solitary confinement.  Both Jack and Hannah could not place the reason she refused to denounce the news of her death.

Hannah and Jack decided to reach out to Amanda, they mapped out a plan to get her back to their school; the cancellation of the Foods and Nutrition class had made the class very sad. The major problem however, was how to find her, especially since she had been declared dead to the public. Hannah and Jack visited the house she used to reside before the war, it was empty.

They also patrolled the shrine where Hannah had previously seen Amanda for two weeks, non stop but there was no sign of her. Hannah and Jack had almost given up; it was obvious Miss Cole wasn’t interested in being found. They remembered their Science teacher; Mr. Garry who she had been previously engaged to and decided to confide in him. He was both shocked and intrigued when Jack and Hannah told him all that had happened.

Garry knew his Fiancé too well, he knew her secret hide outs and her favorite places. He was eager to confirm the claim of his Amanda being alive. Life without her had been terrible; it was as though he had lost an essential part of his living. He was almost sure that if she was alive, she would most likely continue her Friday routine of eating out at late mother’s favorite restaurant.

 Garry, Jack and Hannah arrived at the restaurant the next Friday to scout for her. They chose seats close to the door for easy and thorough scrutiny of everyone that came into the restaurant. A number of customers popped in and out of the restaurant but there was still no sign of Amanda.  It was starting to look like a fruitless effort until a woman dressed to the teeth walked into the restaurant.

This particular woman wore really big shades, an oversized gown and a scarf which draped from her head to shoulders; it was obvious she was trying to hide her identity. She took a seat at the corner of the restaurant and beckoned on the waiter thereafter. Mr. Garry could almost swear this lady’s physique was similar to his fiancés’; the only difference was that she had a bulging tummy.

He tried to get closer for a better view but was indiscreet in his attempt; she noticed she was being watched and stood immediately. Garry rushed to prevent her from stepping out of the restaurant; he took off her shades and was shocked to see his fiancé. Hannah and Jack sat back and watched the drama unfold.

Amanda already had tears in her eyes, she tried her best to wiggle out of her fiancé’s grasp but was unsuccessful. Mr. Garry thought it wise to avoid causing a scene in the restaurant, he gently pulled her to his side and escorted her out of the building. Jack and Hannah immediately followed the couple for a situation report. They had worked really hard to locate Miss Cole and were curious to know the reason behind her hiding and façade.

It was after eavesdropping on their conversation that Jack and Hannah started to get the full picture. Amanda had thought it best to remain dead to the world and start over under a new name. She felt her father and his plight for freedom had destroyed her life beyond repairs. Even her younger sister had no idea she was alive.

The worst part of the whole situation was that she was pregnant with Gordon’s child. It was a miracle that she hadn’t started to manifest symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, considering the hell Gordon had put her through before his death. He had beaten and sexually abused her severally while she was being held captive; Gordon had been angered by her father’s actions and thought it best to transfer all his aggression to her.

Garry was stunned by her revelation, the pain in his eyes was difficult to conceal. He immediately understood why she had decided to stay dead to her loved ones. The thought of his Fiancé carrying another man’s child, let alone the child of a monster like Gordon Smith was too much to bear.

Garry held her close while they both sobbed; they obviously had a lot to talk about. They all got into his SUV and headed for her new apartment. Jack and Hannah were happy to be reunited with their mentor. She had taught them a lot about self confidence and determination. The school was never the same without her, they were eager to have her back as their teacher; the only problem was that Miss Cole had no intention of coming back.

As the weeks passed by, she began to come out of her shell. Her Fiancé; Mr. Garry had decided to take responsibility for her unborn child; it was a difficult decision to make, but he loved his Fiancé too much to let her go. He contacted her sister to correct the notion of Amanda’s death, considering she was Amanda’s only surviving relative. 

Amanda and Garry had a private wedding on the beach when she was seven months gone. It was a beautiful ceremony with very few guests, the Foods and Nutrition students were all in attendance. They were unhappy she wasn’t coming back to teach at their school, but they respected her decision.

Amanda eventually set up a restaurant in the Suburbs of Bonmay and named it after her father. It was a lifelong dream that had finally come to pass; she made a fortune off her restaurant. In Hannah’s opinion, Amanda deserved the happy ever after she was getting; she had been so nice to her students during her stay at Lily high. It was a much needed compensation for the terrible experience she had been put through by Gordon Smith.

The Garry family welcomed their first child by the end of the year; he was the most beautiful little creature Hannah had ever seen. Mr. Garry loved the child like he was his, it didn’t matter that he wasn’t the biological father.

Amanda set up a foundation to help women who had been sexually abused; she decided that no one should be made to face such trauma alone. Mr. Garry stood boldly by her side through all of her decisions. She also took part in some philanthropic work and was very giving when Hannah’s aunty asked for assistance with the upkeep of both her nieces.

The fight for freedom in Bonmay was a historic event that could never be mentioned without acknowledging the Cole Family. The people of Bonmay embraced the new, democratic style of ruling and ensured that no self centered monster like Gordon Smith ever got in the position of power again.

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