FLUENTELLA TALES: EPISODE 16

english phrasal vebrs related to stress

Written by: Marie

Marie is from Cape Town, South Africa. She has taught English as a second language in a variety of settings, including a kindergarten, after school language academy (in South Korea), and at a world-famous language school for adults in her hometown. She is able to help students of all ages and levels. She can help you or your child with English grammar, British or American pronunciation, or any type of English test preparation. She especially enjoys Business English and IELTS preparation. She has 13 years of teaching experience with all ages, levels, and nationalities.

  As I make my way through the meadow to where I think the gunfire came from, I keep thinking of Jake. We left him in the house, unconscious. He probably won’t be able to escape his bindings, but you never know. Reasons why he could be part of this operation swirl through my mind. He was always a hardworking person but tonight he looked like he   burnt himself out.  Even more so when I dated him and he worked 14-hour shifts in the medical tent while on duty.  Calm down, Betty! You have more important things to worry about right now. My fingers holding the firearm begin to burn from the cold, but I ignore them. Before the attack on our family, three out of the five of us had some kind of military experience. We can beat whatever this is, we cannot give up. So far we have no casualties, but I need to find my sister and mom to be sure.

I sense movement across the meadow. Someone or something is approaching me. Night vision goggles would have been great right now. But we are on the farm, not the battlefield. I can just make out two figures. Whether they are the enemy or family is hard to tell. I crouch down and wait for them to come closer. They do the same. No movement for a couple of minutes. What is this?  The attackers did not seem to know what they were doing, but these two did. I cup my hands together and decide to try something. When my sister and I were younger, Grandpa taught us how to copy the sound of an owl using our hands. We used this sound to communicate over long distances when we played a game called Bandits with our cousins on the farm. I now blow air through the gap between my thumbs over my cupped hands. The sound travels easily over the deathly quiet meadow. No one would suspect anything as it actually sounds like an owl hooting. Suddenly, one of the people stands up and the hoot of an owl comes back to me. It’s my sister!

As quickly as possible, we close the distance between us. The other person with my sister is… my mom. We hug each other. The relief I feel is overpowering, but there is no time for questions. Mom whispers, “Girls, we are literally and figuratively snowed under with problems. The first thing I need to know is, Betty, have you seen Grandpa and Louis?”

I nod and reply, “They are both fine. Grandpa is setting up his rifle and scope in the living room to cover us. The house is clear. Grandpa knocked out one of them and we secured him. I don’t know where the rest went, but Louis is out to get them. Are you OK, Mom? You look like you  stayed up  five nights in a row.”

Her laugh sounds ominous. “I’ve looked much worse before, dear. No need to worry. I don’t have a concussion, but I am wound up  and ready to  take it out on  these fools. How dare they attack my family, on my property, on Christmas Eve? They will pay and you two are going to help me.” I look at my sister and ask, “What happened to Mom? She sounds a bit crazy.” My sister shrugs. “She won’t tell me what is going on. Just listen to her and don’t ask any questions. She’s armed and apparently knows more about guns than we ever knew.”

Alrighty then… “So what’s the plan, Mom,” I ask. She looks toward the barn. “Their kidnapping attempt backfired. They came for me. We need to find out why. If we can get back to the house with the help of Grandpa, we can interrogate the guy you tied up and get some information from him.” I feel upset but hide it well. My sister’s eyes are a bit glazy and she is staring at the snow by her feet. Shock or cold, perhaps? I give her my jacket to wear. “Stop  zoning out  and focus! You heard what mom said. Let’s get going,” I snap. Mom and I lead the way back to the house, the way in which I came from originally. My sister is trailing behind us, much more noisy than I could appreciate, but she never had to creep around in the dark before. By the look of things, our Mom has. We stop behind a mound of snow for cover. We are close to the barn and the road now. This holiday was supposed to be a time when we could all  switch off  and relax. Funny how trouble suddenly  piled up  and we are stuck in this weird situation. I wonder if my mom plans on torturing Jake to get intel out of him when we get back to the house.

Is she capable of that? Am I?

TO BE CONTINUED

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