ABBY walked into the waiting arms of her dad and mum.
Professor and Dr Camille welcomed their daughter with a warm, heartfelt embrace.
Tears welled up in the eyes of the middle aged parents, as they beheld their only child freed from prison for two days.
The good news had come to the Camilles only a few weeks earlier. The new Seychellen government of the time made a presidential announcement regarding the nation’s penitentiary.
It was made clear that Seychelles’ sole prison facility at Montagne Posée, was already becoming too small to accommodate convicts.
And so, the new President announced that his government would be providing urgent provisional solutions, while a new prison facility was being constructed elsewhere.
In the meantime, then, the government of Seychelles moved to grant Presidential paroles to prisoners. It was to as many prisoners as could be found adequately repentant and rehabilitated; and who could be proven harmless to the society.
The Presidential parole of that year was a special parole that bypassed protocols. It bypassed the required minimum term a prisoner must have served before they were usually qualified for a parole.
Also, first time offenders as well as convicts whose jail terms had the alternative sentence of a fine – both of these were equally pardoned on that special presidential parole.
Indeed, it was mercy time for the world of convicts in Seychelles. And Abby Camille was among the fortunate souls to obtain such great mercy.
Today was Abby’s first outing in her parole process. She’d been given 48-hours’ probation in the free society.
Yet Abby’s behaviour within the official 48 hours of test in the free world could make or mar her pardon. The probation would decide whether Abby would return to jail or become free.
So Professor and Dr Camille were so glad to receive their daughter into their arms again.
But then Abby wanted to get the unending warmth and pleasantries wrapped up as soon as possible. She wanted to get out of everything around Montagne Posée now.
Her mother Dr Camille was quick to catch up on that. She was the first to pull back from the grumpy little child. The middle aged woman motioned to her husband that they all started to leave already.
Abby was awkwardly quiet at first, as the family of three drove home. The 48 hours the girl was granted were like a few gold coins. So she could only think and plan in her thoughts how best to put her precious few hours to good use.
And there it was, popping out in the young lady’s mind already.
It was her boyfriend Jason.
Yes, the first thing the freed girl would love to do was to check up on Jason Curtis. It had been a few months since Abby heard from her boyfriend. Jason hadn’t showed up through the lady’s time in detention and in prison.
Abby had written her man during the time in prison, but she never got a response. She’d wondered why Jason hadn’t showed up since the beginning of everything.
She’d wondered if her man was changing. So Abby wanted to be sure if Jason did get her letters from prison.
Now after some minutes of awkward silence, the young Camille decided to talk up. And her voice came up matter-of-factly.
‘Dad and Mum… I’m sorry for the stress I’ve put you through. I promise you’ll not have a reason to worry over me again. Thanks, Dad. Thanks, Mum. Thanks for all you’ve done for me.’
Abby’s dad was behind the wheels. He took a glance at his weary daughter in the backseat through the rear mirror.
He smiled. ‘It’s okay, my baby. It’s okay. Don’t worry; everything will be over in just a matter of weeks, and you’ll be fully back to us.’
But Abby’s mother wouldn’t let it slide. She wouldn’t let her daughter go without a proper scolding for her error.
Dr Camille had held everything to herself all the while. And now she realised she might never be able to tell her daughter what she did wrong. So she turned her head back, and she chided her child.
‘Abby, you didn’t explain to us how you got those drugs. You didn’t tell us that.’
Mrs Camille paused a moment, turned again and glanced out of her side window. Then an awkward silence enveloped the tense atmosphere.
In that small moment, the older woman calculated that her daughter wouldn’t spill where she got the drugs she was found with. Even if she asked her.
Mrs Camille knew her daughter didn’t use the drugs, as the cross-examinations from the court proceedings revealed. She was also certain her daughter wasn’t the type to consume substances in the first place.
Yet Dr Camille knew also that asking to know what exactly her daughter wanted to use the drugs in her possession for, was going to be of no use at all. For she understood her daughter would never answer.
OUT & FREE 1ST JULY
Mrs Camille turned back to face her child again. She resumed in a sterner tone of voice.
‘You are 25 already. So you can’t continue to behave like a kid! Grow up and be responsible, uh! Stop giving us heartaches! Be responsible for yourself, will you!’
‘Think of Emma! Will she cause trouble like this? She’s your age, isn’t she? You said her family is far away in South Africa.
‘D’ you see? She’s all by herself here and yet she isn’t causing any trouble. When will my own daughter grow up and act responsibly, huh?!’
Abby tightened her fist beneath her clothes. And she suppressed a boiling protest in her belly.
Mrs Camille finished her words.
‘Neither I nor dad will take this from you at all, if you try that sort of nonsense again! Do you get that clear?!’
Abby grumbled a quiet yes. And Professor Camille only glanced at his stern wife with a small smile and a sweet whisper.
‘Oh Abigail!’ he said. It was his wife’s sweet name he cooed.
Mrs Camille only glanced at her husband a second and looked out through her side window.
Abby was angry. But she knew she was in no place to defend herself. She hated the fact that her mum compared her to Emma, but she decided to take it in and give an apology.
Abby made a small effort to understand her mother’s disappointment. And she soothed herself with the fact that her mum’s hurting words couldn’t match the heartbreak she’d given her parents in the past months.
The young daughter had initially planned to alight along Queen Harbour highway, before they reached home. She’d planned to stop at Jason’s place off the highway in that suburb.
But now Abby could tell that her desire wasn’t going to be granted, with the atmosphere around already. So the young lady decided to roll along with whatever came her way.
OUT & FREE 1ST JULY
Abby’s father broke the lingering silence now. His voice came up composed and decided.
‘You know, child. Your mum and I only want the best for you. We’ve beaten ourselves over this many times. We’ve thought maybe we didn’t show you enough love and care. Maybe this, maybe that.
‘But it’s true. We didn’t have enough time and attention for you. Maybe we could have done better to raise you well.’ Mr Camille’s voice drifted as he finished.
The words reached down to Abby’s soul and her icy heart melted. For she heard her father’s faint voice tremble with emotion.
Abby knew her father barely got angry with her. She knew her dad to be someone who’d go any length to care about her, and in spite of his own busyness.
But here was that loving father feeling incompetent and sad, all because of her own incompetence.
Abby was broken down. Her heart was wrecked at the thought of what she’d done.
She went ahead to beg them with all sincerity now. For her earlier apologies were only some acting up.
‘I’m really sorry, Dad,’ pleaded the girl. ‘I’m sorry, Mum. It’s all my fault and I know it. It’s all my fault… not yours at all.
‘You’ve done your best for me! You’ve really taken care of me so well. Dad and Mum, I’m sorry for being a bad girl. It’s not your fault at all. It’s entirely my fault.’
Mrs Camille picked up. She didn’t want the family to wallow in that sombre mood for too long. She took hold of the wheels of talk and gave it a light spin.
‘You know what, Abby?’ quipped the woman, turning back. ‘We’ll start making up for the lost time with a really good time at your dad’s table tonight!’
She flashed a quick smile now. ‘He cooked your favourite seafood! With all the rich sauce and vegetable soup!’
Abby sprang up and leaned towards her dad. ‘Hey, really!’ she cried.
Professor Camille adjusted the rear mirror in a bid to peer at her daughter’s excited eyes.
He winked at her. ‘Blessed are you among the daughters of men, you know!’
Abby jumped in her seat. ‘Thank you, thank you! Thank you so much, Dad!’
Mrs Camille looked at her daughter’s happy face now, and she was overwhelmed with happiness herself.
She reached out a hand and fondled her daughter’s cheeks.
‘Aw, my little Abigail!’ she called. ‘Welcome back to us!’ she cooed.
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