Guide and Key
Oliver woke the next morning with the rich smell of coffee filling his nostrils. He opened his eyes in the dim light of the common room and rolled over, being careful to not fall off the sofa as he did. Every muscle in his left side flared to a fiery wakefulness, reminding him of yesterday’s events. His eyes fell upon a large mug resting on the table, filled to the brim with a dark brown liquid. He glanced around, but didn’t see anybody else in the sitting area or the kitchen.
He swung his legs down to the floor and leaned on his knees for a moment, waiting until the pain subsided into a dull ache, then dropped to the floor and did several pushups. The pain returned, but he pushed through it and kept moving until his arms pumped his body fluidly up and down. He rolled to his feet, wincing as his bruised muscles and organs screamed at the sudden movement. Oliver knew he didn’t have any broken bones, but the damage he had sustained yesterday would take at least a week to fully heal.
Oliver sat down on the sofa and pulled on his shirt. He picked up the thick brew and sipped at it experimentally. The liquid was as thick as heavy cream and far stronger than normal coffee. It left a slightly gritty feeling on his tongue, but it was so sweet that he couldn’t help but keep drinking it. He sat on the sofa for a few more minutes, mulling over the events of the previous day as the caffeine worked its way into his system.
He was half way through the mug of coffee when Hadiya pushed through the curtained doorway to the family’s rooms. “Good, you’re awake. I was worried when the noise of making coffee didn’t wake you, but thought the smell of a mug right beside your nose might work.”
Oliver raised the cup in salute and thanked her, then set it down and began pulling on his boots while Hadiya busied herself at the stove.
“My mother and father are out refueling the Jeep. When they return we will have breakfast, then I imagine you will be on your way to rescue your partner.”
Oliver folded the thin blanket that he had slept under and laid it on the arm of the sofa. Then he picked up the cup of coffee and walked to the kitchen table. He watched Hadiya in silence for a moment, sipping his coffee and trying to think of the right words for the question that had been bothering him since Hadiya, her grandmother, and their guards had rescued him yesterday. Finally he said, “Hadiya, I’ve been thinking about this all night. Why didn’t your men just shoot me yesterday?”
She turned from the counter, still twisting a ball of dough in her hand, and gave him a quizzical look.
“Not that I don’t appreciate it, but what do you gain by keeping me around? What can I do for you?”