88 - Baghdad
SEVERAL YEARS AGO The next voice to drift into focus from out of site was equally unexpected. “Father Tom?” It was Amira’s voice. Shouldn’t she be sleeping by now? She’d just had major surgery after all. At least I was pretty sure that Amira wasn’t dead. The idea of things having gone so sideways that she could have been killed here in the base didn’t even bear thought.
“Amira, I’m right here.”
Which in highsight was a pretty silly thing to say. Of course I was right here, where else would I be? And if she knew to call out to me, then she already knew where I was. In all likelihood, she’d be right here where I could see here in a matter of seconds. Our base of operations wasn’t that big after all, you could walk from end to end of it in well less than a minute.
“I’m coming, just a second.” I heard some quieter words that sounded like she was talking with someone right next to her. Their voices didn’t carry nearly well enough for me to make out individual words however. A moment later and she walked back into view.
At some point since I’d left, she’d managed to find a change of clothes. It was slightly more traditional Arabic garb than she usually wore, with a less fine cut to it, but I still wondered were she’d gotten it or who had gotten it for her. After all, she’d just had a fairly major surgery–was she even supposed to be out and about already?
She actually looked fine–no, more than fine. She looked completely healed and was moving just as smoothly–if not even more so–than she ever had. It seemed to me at least that getting shot was actually doing her some good now that the actual getting shot parts were past. a
But when she came closer and I got my first look at her, all of those question flew right out of my head. The look of worry and compassion on her face just made me want to assure her that I was okay–and I was for the most part–and that everything was going to be okay–which I couldn’t really promise, but I could say it at least. I opened my mouth to do just that, but she cut me off with a single raised finger.
“What in the world happened to you?” There was concern there, true, but there was also an unmistakable thread of anger. What was she angry about.
“I got shot.” The words just sort of slipped out. I hadn’t meant to be quite so blunt about it. “And held prisoner.” I didn’t want to mention just *where* I’d been held captive, not just yet. And not with so many young soldier all around trying yet completely failing to feign disinterest.
She just looked at me for a few long moments, blinking more often than she seemed normal. Perhaps she was processing what I’d just said? Finally, she replied. “You’re quite right, we should talk about this somewhere more privately.”
I started to ask what she had in mind, but she hadn’t finished it yet. “But I have a feeling that one of your officers is going to want to come down and debrief you first. I have a feeling that it’s going to be one heck of a story.”
“Debrief me? Heck of a …? What do you mean?” I knew what the words meant, but they didn’t make sense.
“To figure out where you went. And I guess more importantly, how you’re back.”
It still didn’t make sense. “But it’s not that complicated. I got shot, I got kidnapped, I escaped, and now I’m back.
But she was just shaking her head slowly. “You don’t know, do you? You really don’t know.”
“Don’t know what?”
“Father…” Her voice abruptly shifted, growing softer. “You left on that mission to the museum almost two weeks ago.”