2011 Caridad Pineiro - www.caridad.com
* * Excerpt **
Rafe pointed to the short opening in the middle of the excavated wall.She had to bend to enter, the crude doorway being no more than about four feet highand three feet wide. When she was within, she realized that the structure had oncebeen a steam bath. The vent to allow the smoke to exit at the top of the mound hadbeen cleared of debris and weak afternoon light filtered downward, illuminating the barefurnishings within.Rafe had set up a small cot alongside one wall. A torn but carefully mended sleepingbag rested neatly on the cot. On a stone bench beside the cot, Rafe had placed a rustyoil camping lantern. He walked over and lit it with a lighter that had also been resting onthe bench. The lantern was surprisingly strong, creating a wide circle of light in the areaaround the cot.The light played across the remaining items on the stone bench. A broken radio and cellphone, their pieces carefully placed beside one another as if someone had beendiligently working on repairing them. The map to the temple she had seen so manymonths earlier. And finally, closest to the light and the cot, a picture of her in aprotective leather frame.The presence of the photo gave her hope but still left too many questions to which sheneeded answers."Why, Rafe? Why are you here? Living like this?Hiding?" she said as she faced him completely."You wouldn't understand.""Why don't you at least try to explain?" she challenged.With a long sigh, Rafe stepped closer to the circle of light and grasped the hem of thecoarse colton tunic he wore. His hands shook on the ragged edge of the cloth as hehesitated for just a breath's length, but then he snatched the garment up and over hishead, exposing his upper body.She gasped with shock at the viciousness of the scars marring his once perfectphysique. Deep ridges cut across his ribs on the left side of his body. At his rightshoulder, two thick-scarred irregular circles led to more ridges, shallower this time, butno less painful to behold.No doubt existed in her mind that such wounds might have been fatal. Should havebeen fatal, she realized as she stepped up to him and laid her hand on his side.