The sun was setting, the light dawning upon us – ‘So that’s it then?’ she asked in absolute numbness.
‘I believe so’, I nodded and sat down beside her.
‘It had been long anyway’, she looked down at the rock under her shoe. It was a funny thing. Many things drowned with the sun, but we were a poignant kind of happy. She rested her hand on my knee and we talked about everything we had been through together.
‘No more books and canteens then’, I laughed. I realized that as soon as we get up and begin to walk, we will be on a different journey, and this would be over.
‘It’s like the end of an era’ she did not sound happy, but she had always known that it had to end. Both of us knew. We could either be sad or be welcoming.
‘It will never be the end’ I comforted her.
We got up and began to walk. I sighed, it was almost pitch dark. I looked at her, and she at me. It was all over and both of us had accepted it. We are going to lead a different life now.
‘That rock looks great on you’, I wrapped my arm around her shoulder.
‘Thanks, on you too. I think I have a better choice than you’, she laughed.
‘I think I made the best choice’, I whispered. We had finally begun our new lives – together.
He sent her a long text expressing how much he loved her, wished to be with her, and how he would do anything for her. Wishing her a happy anniversary, he rolled around in his bed smiling ridiculously. He told her that he wanted to marry her some day, and he was confident too.
‘Thanks, hon’, his phone blinked. ‘I love you too’. That was enough for him. Satisfied he sent her a list of hearts and went to sleep.
The same day, she was dressed in her most courageous dress and put on a full face of makeup. Apprehensively, she walked to her computer screen and switched it on. The front camera lit up, and she saw herself staring into an empty room.
She knew that she probably did not want to do this. Even though she knew it would break him, she had no choice.
She breathed in, almost on the verge of crying.
12 pm. A man sat casually on the other side of the screen.
‘Happy anniversary, babe’, she said, holding her tears back.
He shifted in his seat and took off his shirt.
The t-shirt held a photo of her.
‘Six more months’, he said, ‘Time won’t make a difference anymore.’
‘Breathe in’ I had to keep saying to myself. ‘Follow, and listen to commands’
I had been trained for this day.
Putting on a blunt face, and taking control of the situation – I looked at the people around me. Everybody was eyeing each other with fear and anticipation.
We knew that once we would be given the signal, we would have to rush out there without thinking twice. We will have to face the noise for every mistake we make, and look every person in the eye – fearlessly.
Was I ready, for real? I do not think I know until date. However, what I do know is, it was a life-changing day.
All of us smiled at each other, helped each other, covered tracks for each other. It was a pleasure to watch and be a part of. I had myself forgotten a dance step on stage that day, but my parents simply applauded in the crowd.
There’s just something about annual days.
‘Please let me go’, I begged. ‘I would never hurt a fly, you cannot accuse me so.’
He would not budge. He looked at me with calculating eyes as he asked me to sit down.
‘Name’, he demanded.
‘Alicia, but you have to believe me, I – ‘
‘What were you doing there?’ he cut me off.
‘I was just passing by, I swear. I did not even realize it. I heard a loud bang and I panicked, and – ‘
I was shivering by then. I was not sure he believed me at all or if he was even listening.
‘Did you get a good look at him?’ He asked, almost concluding our conversation.
‘I… I did not. By the time I could return to my senses, he was gone.’ I looked down, on the verge of crying.
‘Your mother is here. Please sit, I will need you to fill out a form.’ He directed me to a seat where my mother was seated. I looked at her, ashamed.
I sat down without saying a word. She looked at me and sighed.
‘Of all the things you could crash our car into; it had to be the model of the President. Didn’t it?’ Smacking her head, she paid the fine and we went off. There, with the statue went my driving privileges.
‘I am sorry, Betty’, I yelled while trying to keep up with her. ‘I know I do not deserve forgiveness or anything close, but you have to hear me out.’
I kept panting as I chased her down the lane.
‘I did not mean for you to find out. Please, it was just a one-time thing and I know that is no excuse but you have to know that it will never happen again’ I begged and pleaded, but she just would not listen to me.
‘Will you please stop walking? I cannot breathe anymore. Please, just listen to me. I am sorry.’ Exhausted, I slowed down and started panting. I could see her speed past everybody.
‘I swear to God, it will never happen again’, I yelled.
‘YOU TOLD MY FRIENDS I HAD A GASSY STOMACH PROBLEM, MOM’
Well, that part was true. I could not deny it.
‘UGH. I AM SO EMBARRASSED’ she yelled.
It was a hard task winning against teenage kids.
‘Hello’, the voice was soft yet condescending. It felt motivated, the voice had a purpose, and it included me.
‘NO NO NO NO NO’, I yelled. It could not have been happening. Hoping it was a dream, I continued to express my dislike for the voice. I was a target, and I had no escape. I could not ask for help as I stood there – frozen in my step.
‘Let’s get started’, she said
‘I CAN’T’, I talked over her. ‘STOP TALKING OR I WILL HAVE TO REPORT YOU’, helpless, I fell to my knees.
‘Like you haven’t already. You think I do not have ways of getting to you?’ she asked. ‘Just do as I am asking you to.’
As she finished, spooky music filled the atmosphere of the room. I could hear elevated music getting louder and louder.
I felt trapped.
‘AMANDA, WAKE UP’, I heard a faint voice in my ears. I woke up disheveled and looked around. My husband was looking straight at me – worried.
‘Are you alright?’ he asked
‘I guess. It was a bad dream’, I explained
‘What about?’ he asked
‘Call center employees’, I sighed.