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Tanya’s life was turned upside down when her son, Steve was attacked by renegades and she had to dig deep facing her worst fear to save them both.
It is the year 2048, 30 years after a devastating quake had changed Gauteng’s geographic features. The effects of the acid water, that covered most of the area, was visible to everyone but the government. The silent death crawling closer leaving devastation in its path. Nothing is excluded from the terror.
Tanya and Steve’s path of survival meet up with the rebels in their search for clean water and she had to face much more than just acid water to stay alive.
A thrilling story of courage and survival.
Wiping the sweat away from her brow, Tanya peered straight into the scorching heat. Her face was covered by the wide-brimmed hat, her eyes protected by dark sunglasses ─ the heavy-duty kind that hardly allows any light to pass through.
It was early November with no sign of rain in the sky. The previous day they had a few drops which splattered onto the dust-covered earth, but it had made no significant difference to the parched earth. They needed a downpour soaking the earth, and soon.
Death was around her in various forms, and it didn’t discriminate between the strong and the weak. It was as if the Grim Reaper had a license to kill and touched everything with robustness. Fires were a constant enemy due to the scorching heat, and with the dry winds, it ran rampant over the veld destroying all in its path. At times she could swear she heard death laughing at their expense ─ he was a living being who had carte blanche on everything that had breath and he revelled in every minute of their anguish.
With a last glance over the dry veld, she turned her back on the vegetable garden and made for indoor cover. She tried to maintain the feeble veggies, but between the sun and the lack of water, it was impossible. Every drop of water that she could save was put in the ground, nursing the seedlings to yield a harvest: even if it was just enough for her and her son. She didn’t ask for much, but now and then help would be appreciated, she thought with some aggression.
“Ma, what will we eat tonight?” Steve asked and drew her back from her morbid thoughts. Her boy has grown the last year. Again, she looked at him, fascinated, at her kid’s lanky body. Soon he would tower over her, she thought with a sad smile. Crouched in front of the fridge, he scanned the meagre contents of the icebox. She knew there was not much to look at. Their options became slimmer by the day and it pained her. She had no idea what would they do once it was done.
In town the people were already fighting about the scarce food supply and she would rather stay far away from that commotion as possible. Violence was at the order of the day and no one was safe. Law enforcement was useless and would rather take part in the looting than protect the innocent. She tried to visit the town a week ago, but only got so far as the outskirts when gunshots were fired, and a bullet slammed into her car. The bullet’s trajectory ended up close to Steve’s head, leaving a burnt hole in the headrest of his seat. She knew she would not make that mistake again.
She brushed away the wisps of hair from her wet forehead, “I will have to open a few cans. Get some in the cellar.” she requested with a tired sigh.
She hung her hat on the doorknob, placing her spectacles on the shelf next to the now-empty spaghetti bottle. She could still remember a time when all the canisters on the shelves were filled with a variety of noodles, pasta and rice. It was her pride and joy, decorating the cheerful kitchen with all kinds of bric-a-brac. Now they were empty reminders of a past she could only vaguely recall.
“Okay, Ma.” He ran outside, his thick blond hair rustling as he moved. He jumped over Brutus, who lay lazing in the scant shade.
The once-beautiful oak tree gave plenty of shade when it was younger. She could remember the countless times she played under it: Her, Etienne and Susan. Now there was barely enough shade left to cover the dog’s body. How things have changed over the years!
Two roads. One choice.
Anabella Anthony found she was alone in the world at eighteen. Early on, she made a choice; to live an ordinary life away from the lifestyle her parents preferred. However, they had plans for her; they wanted her to become a part of their choices.
All she wanted was a regular household, with normal day to day issues like her peers, parents she could respect, and who above anything else would accept her for the person she is. Torn between dreams that filled her mind with alluring effects and uncomfortable events which tried to sway her, she had to come to a resolution: find peace and stay true to her convictions.
Through it all, she excelled in her sport; a dedicated student who falls in love with a much older man. Will she give in to her body's desires, or will she remain steadfast in her own choices? Can she find the courage to stand amidst the turmoil wanting to drag her down? And most importantly, will she ever forgive those who meant to harm her?
Aldrich Hagin, a lawyer, is ready to settle down. After a tragic loss, he experienced right after university he is now, more than ever, ready to move on and start a family. And then he meets a young, energetic, lively woman who turns his life and heart around. Will he be willing to sacrifice his own desires and wait? Can he help her and be the anchor she so desperately needs? Confronted with his own decisions, the choice is his as to whether he’ll stay or leave. What will he decide?
A love story filled with decisions both have to make; to stand against all odds and remain true to oneself.
Anabella emerged from the swimming pool―the rippling water a clear aqua right to the tiled floor―wiping water from her eyes with a brush of her hands, and making sure her hair was neat. She had just swum twenty laps as part of her training program for her upcoming championship and felt good, energized, excited, and ready to compete. She had put in long hours, focused every effort to accomplish this one gold medal; her dream for many years. It would open doors for her future plans and was in reach―she could feel it. Anabella knew she was ready.
“How do you feel, Anabella?” asked Mr. Rhodes, her coach.
“Excellent! I’m not even tired. This was a good workout,” she answered.
“Are your parents bringing you to the venue, or should I pick you up?”
“They are out of town, so I would really appreciate it if you could pick me up.” Although she could easily drive herself to the championship, she preferred to go with someone. The tension and stiffness of sore muscles after a hard race brought numbness to her limbs, which made driving almost impossible.
“Then it is settled. I will pick you up at 7am, sharp. Don’t be late,” her coach said sternly.
“I won’t be, Mr. Rhodes.”
“Go and rest, relax this afternoon, and make sure you are in bed early. Don’t worry about anything; all will be fine. You have worked hard these past few months.”
“Yes, sir.” She knew she had worked hard. The sore muscles were evidence, as well as the fact that she had not spent much time with family or friends. She had enough confidence in her abilities not to be worried at all and loved the competitive side of the sport; racing against a good competitor, and the excitement of winning after giving it her all.
There was solitude once you dove into the water, only you and it, and the lane stretching ahead. Sounds of the crowd did not bother her. At moments like these, she could allow the water to enclose her and swim through the currents created by other swimmers. An unsurpassed sense of freedom and accomplishment ran through her veins, and the adrenaline rushed through her core, making her feel alive. Here, she felt whole, forgetting everything else. Here, she was in control of her surroundings and her own life. Here, she set the pace, overcoming all fears.
It was her home, the place she felt safe. Over the years, the swimming pool had been the only place she’d considered a safe haven in her otherwise dysfunctional life. How she had longed for a healthy family life, to wrap her arms around a loving father and a caring mother, to tell them about her day, to include them in her life. She sighed as she turned away from the pool, burying the negative thoughts wanting to rob her from her jovial mood.
Confidence radiated from her whole posture and she felt good, really good. She never let on what was taking place within her mind. She never allowed outsiders into her life. She was always the outsider, never part of the family concept. Her only confidence came from who she was, as well as her accomplishments in either sports or academics. However, it neither made her arrogant or self-absorbed.
While Mr. Rhodes was talking, she managed to dry herself and put her sweatpants and top on, ready to go to her house.
“Bye, sir. See you tomorrow at 7am, and thanks.” She respected her coach for his time and devotion where she was concerned. He had put in just as much time as she had the last couple of months during training. She had learned to trust him for all the advice and his continued motivation, and would miss him when she went off to varsity the following year. He had influenced her to study to be a physiotherapist as her passion was to work with people.
“Bye, Anabella. See you in the morning.”
“Goodbye, Mr. Rhodes.”
Once home, she went straight to the shower. The warm water was soothing to her sore muscles and she fully relaxed under the spray. She was all alone―for a change there weren’t a lot of people in the house. Her parents had gone to a business seminar for the weekend, and would only be back on Sunday evening.
Her two older brothers, Roy and Derek, were not back from work yet, not that she expected them because they would usually go straight to the pub, or a friend’s house. It was Friday night after all, and their parents weren’t there to arrange their weekend. How she wished they could be a real family. She loved her brothers, but living at home kept them apart and they did not spend time together.
It was not unfamiliar to Anabella to be on her own on a weekend. If her parents were there, they didn’t speak to her anyway, because they would be busy entertaining their friends. She wrinkled her nose in disgust.
A long time ago, Anabella had decided not to be part of their lifestyle and because of this, there was no relationship between them. She had learned to distance herself, choosing to rather throw her time and energy into her sport. At first, it was a way out of the house. Now it had become her life; a life she appreciated and cherished.
She had the shower all to herself for as long as she wanted.
Once in her room, she got dressed, brushing her hair until it shone. Music played softly from the radio and she sang along with the well-known song.
Suddenly her cell phone rang, disturbing the stillness, but she smiled. The Caller ID showed it was her best friend, Monica. Of all her friends, she was closest to her, and was the heart of the group with her sparkling personality; always busy arranging parties or schemes, especially where boys were concerned.
Anabella trusted her as she was the only one who knew what was really going on at her house. Not that she ever allowed her to come over. For that, she was too ashamed, but she knew enough and was always close. When things got really bad, she could always turn to her. Although Monica was a cheerful person and looked like a ‘dumb blond’, she had shown maturity in a lot of things over the years, something that was not well known in their group.
“Hi, Bell! You in the mood for a party at my house tonight?”
She could hear Monica was excited―almost out of breath because of it―and she could see her, as if she was standing right in front of her. However, Anabella did need to rest. Her muscles were still stiff after the practice.
“Not tonight, Moni, I really need to rest. Tomorrow is a big day and I must be in top form,” she said with a sigh, smiling because of her friend’s anxiousness.
“Please, Bell, do come, please, even if it is only for an hour or so.” Monica sounded very eager, almost desperate.
What was she up to again? “Moni, I can’t come, please understand.”
“Bell, pretty please, a hunk of a guy is here, a friend of my brother’s, and I want you to meet him. Please come.”
In the background, Anabella could hear a shout, as if someone was screaming at her.
“Please, Bell!” It was Monica’s brother, Tim. He was twelve years older than they were and a lawyer, working for a well-known law firm in the city. Again he shouted in a deep voice, laughing, “Please, Bell, come!”
Anabella smiled at this and then said, “All right, Moni, but only for an hour. I do need to have a good night’s rest.” Reluctantly, she gave in. She knew her friend would not stop until she said yes. Her friend’s family was like a real family to her. Over the years, she had learned what it was like to have parents, and many times she would find herself crying afterward, longing for parents like theirs.
“Great. I expect you at seven, and you can leave at nine. Will that be early enough?” There was relief in her voice.
“Yes, that’ll be fine. Thanks for the invite. See you later.”
With an hour to spare, she stood in front of her closet. She took out a light, cream-colored winter dress with three-quarter-length sleeves. It fell to just above her knees. There was still a chill in the air this late in September and she didn’t want to be cold. Long, dark-brown boots completed her outfit. Her long, straight, dark-brown hair hung loose over her shoulders. Even after the winter, she’d kept her tan, which was noticeable on her face, knees and forearms.
She left the house at ten to seven as Monica only lived fifteen blocks from her. It was already dark outside, and stars dotted the sky. A light breeze ruffled through her hair but it wasn’t freezing, which she was glad about. It had been a long time since she had seen her friends, and maybe it would be good to see them all again. She got into her silver Renault Clio, a gift from her parents on her eighteenth birthday. To say she had been stunned to find the car parked in the driveway the morning of her birthday would have been putting it mildly. She had not seen either of them for almost a week, so Roy and Derek handed her the keys.
She’d spent a great morning with them, driving them to the nearest Mugg and Bean, enjoying breakfast together. Like ordinary young people, they laughed about silly stuff. No one mentioned the always absent parents. They had spent the previous night with friends and didn’t return home until two days later. It was good to hear her brothers laugh and be the young handsome men they were. Normality was not a word which described them, but on that day they had come very close to it. They even took a few photos together, which had been framed and now hung in her room. They reminded her that if they tried hard enough, they could be a regular, happy family, the one thing she craved the most.
She had an air of confidence about her, but at the same time she was very humble and shy. Through life’s trials, she had learned not to boast in her own abilities but to stay in the background and do her own thing. She had been forced to learn to stand on her own two feet, and not depend on her parents. They never cared, or were interested in her life. Although they took great care of her material needs, they emotionally distanced themselves, which bordered on abuse. Their own life and lifestyle was all that mattered to them. Her brothers would protect her at times but only to some degree, before they would leave her alone to fight or fend for herself. She loved her brothers, and she knew there were a lot of sacrifices they had to make to adjust to their parents’ way of life, but she could never pay that price.
Her innocence was precious to her. It was a significant issue, or rather an embarrassment to them, especially her mother. They thought she was uptight. She was always proud of the fact that she could still be a lady, watching Mrs. Richter, who played a huge role in her life. Her example of grace and humbleness was the measure of a woman, which made Anabella determined to be similar. She wanted to be graceful, elegant and have respect for herself, with a husband who would adore her. From teachers and classmates she only received respect and admiration.
In less than two months, she would complete her schooling. She looked forward to the following year as she would be attending the University of Cape Town where she would study physiotherapy, with her main focus in sports. She had always loved sports; there wasn’t one she had not tried at one time or another. She liked the commitment, the discipline it brought into her life, and the joy of competing. When competing in a team sport or as an individual, she felt that she was accepted for who she was as a person. In the beginning, it was a way to escape her home life, but now it had become her lifestyle.
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