Jacob cleared his throat, Sally’s emotion seemed to be affecting him.
“At first he seemed just another nice chap there, you know him, dependable, always willing to help someone. So we became friends. Then he seemed to be disappearing every now and then. Sometimes he was just sitting with others, but sometimes he really seemed gone, no one knew where.
One evening he seemed on edge, so I watched him and when he got up to leave the group sitting on the ground talking, I was standing in the shadow of our hut and could easily follow him, keeping in the shadows.
He walked in the semi-dark as well, moving from shadowy area to shadowy area as though he didn’t want to be seen. Well then I was on his trail. He went to the guardhouse and said a few words, then they let him through their entrance and he disappeared into the outside world.”
Sally was sitting quite still, just staring at him. Her tears drying on her cheeks, her mouth slightly open. This was not at all what she had expected. Where was Ben, if this man was home, why wasn’t Ben here instead of this Jacob?
Mariah looked up. Teddy was standing in the doorway, listening intently. She gestured to him and he came into the room and sat down beside her.
“This is my son, Teddy”, she explained, and Teddy rose to greet him. Jacob stood as well, surprised by the height of the teenager, “I’m Jacob Watterson, here to tell Sally about Ben” he said.
Teddy looked at him and said bluntly “So is he dead or alive?”
Sally gasped, the one question she was afraid to ask, the answer she so desired and feared.
Jacob looked at Teddy, then at Sally and said “I’m not completely sure, but I came to tell you all I know.”
“Please go on” said Mariah, we all need to know.
“I waited and waited for him to come back, and just as the curfew hooter blasted he appeared from behind the guardhouse and walked back through the shadows for a bit, then into the light and walked into our hut with the rest of us.
I was worried, I tell you. Was he spying for the guards and getting favours in return? Could I ever again trust him? I didn’t sleep a wink that night, Ben on the other hand snored his usual way.”
Sally said indignantly, “I’m sure Ben doesn’t snore”. Teddy snorted, “See Sally he’s not perfect at all, not like you think.”
Sally’s eyes glistened with tears again. This was turning into a very difficult evening.