Take a look at this awesome excerpt from The Palaver Tree by Wendy Unsworth!
At the end of the day, in the darkness, she held her torch low to the ground to light her way down past the pool. Down in the town the firing had started up again. The curfew had quietened the streets around her but not entirely; Ellie wondered what types of people were out there now and she moved as silently as she was able. There had been no sign of Smart Alec. She hoped he had gone directly home to his village. There was nothing here for him now.
She took a bowl with her to collect water for drinking. Her phone was in her hand, her precious lifeline that she had conserved all day. By now there must be a message.
The screen lit up and she waited, her hand cupped over the tiny screen; even its small brightness frightened her, seemed to illuminate her. She focussed on the little battery symbol and those diminishing bars. Then the sound; it was so loud in the darkness that she clasped the handset to her chest, bending into it, absorbing the clamour. Cursing herself she clicked on the mute button.
Marc, Marc, Marc, Diane, Marc.
Nothing from Gabriel.
Ellie went back, opened up the first message and then the phone vibrated madly in her hand, scaring her so that she fumbled and almost dropped it as she toggled up the volume.
‘Ellie! Got you at last! Has your phone been off?’
Marc’s voice; manna from heaven.
‘The battery is low, I had to switch it off.’
‘Where are you now?’
‘I’m still at the house.’
‘Christ! What’s happening?’
‘Gabriel was supposed to come but it’s already dark and there’s a curfew. Did you speak to Diane?’ Ellie pressed the handset to her ear. The reception was bad. Away from the phone speaker she heard Marc hiss something. ‘Just a minute, we’re pulling over. I can hardly hear you. Yes she called me and explained, I thought you would be out of there by now.’
‘There’s no light, no power, no water.’ She was feeling teary and Oh God! A beep beep warning sounded in her ear, ‘Do you know what’s happening here? Have you heard anything else?’
‘My dad is keeping me updated with the news; there’s been some serious fighting. Kisangane’s in chaos; I don’t want you to worry, but you do need to keep the curtains closed and stay away from the windows. If you are using a torch or candles, keep them low. Don’t attract attention by letting people know you are there. When is Gabriel coming?’
‘Tomorrow, it has to be tomorrow now.’ Beep, beep.
‘Where are they taking you, do you know?’
‘Oh God, Marc the phones beeping, it’s going to fail and I can’t charge it.’
‘Ok - I’m on my way. As soon as you get somewhere, let me know where you are I’ll meet you wherever it is. And get on to Gabriel now, find out when he will be coming for you.’
‘I will, look I have to go...the phone...’
‘Ellie, I love you.’
‘I...’ Beep, beep. Then the screen went blank.
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