They had stopped moving. Blindfolded, hands tied behind her back, Varuna sat upright. Her head hurt, and the elbow pulsed with pain. Since her feet weren’t tied, she shuffled them awake. They hit a flat surface. Testing, she gave a few little kicks. The pared soles brushed against the doorknob of the vehicle. 

Understanding the side she was facing, in a hoarse voice, she called out, “Veda! Veda!” As if in reply, a whimper sounded near her, but it died out. Oh, God! What had they done to her twin sister? 

Over the thudding of her heart, she heard the morning chirping around them. The dense, woodsy smell met her as she willed her mind to quiet down. But it was so hard when fear clawed at you from all directions. Why was she the one awake? Veda was the brave one! 

The small voice in her mind asked her–What would Veda do? Would she give in to the fear and let an abductor take you without a fight? Varuna replied vehemently, “No! No, Veda would never do that!” 

So, with the agility of an eight-year-old, Varuna folded her right leg close to her body and pitched her head forward. Using nimble toes, after several failed attempts, she managed to lower the blindfold. The silk of the material slipped down easily. Her eyes flickered open, bracing against the dim light. She saw her sister lying on the van floor. Red, gooey blood oozed out of numerous wounds on the little face. Her sister had fought, she was sure. Since her heart wanted to lodge in her eyes, she searched for a bottle of water. It lay upturned in the far corner. On her scraped knees, Varuna crawled towards it. Then turned her back to pick it in her tiny fingers. It took her a long minute to grab it and cover the distance to her sister. She inclined her back near her sister’s head, unscrewed the bottle, and poured its contents on Veda. Veda coughed violently awake, “What–what–where are we?”

“I don’t know. But we have to hurry.”

“Uh–Uh… My head…” 

“Don’t get up just yet. Let me get your blindfold. We’ll try the binds, next…”

“Okay… Ow… I am fine…I am fine.”

Varuna looked down at her sister. Everything hurt with the awkward angle, but she pulled the swatch down Veda’s eyes.

“Uh–okay” Veda sat up gingerly. Looked around. “No time for binds, Varu… The window…The driver-side window is open. Go, Varu, go…”

Varuna pulled all her weight into the driver’s seat and nearly fell flat on the steering wheel. Nevertheless, she put her head out of the window. “I don’t see anyone.”

“Good. That’s good,” Veda huffed beside her. “Now, try jumping out.”

“What! Are you mad? That’s impossible, Veda!”

“Stop thinking. Just jump!” Veda butted her sister. “Here, let me help. Go! Go!”

Varuna inched and slipped, inched and slipped, and fell out after five minutes of trying. Then it took another five for Veda to do the same. For a moment, they sat on the dirt road, catching their breath. Then the girls ran for their lives without turning back.



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