She walked out the door and went to stand by the street. She knew it wasn’t time yet, but she couldn’t wait inside any longer. Perhaps if she waited outside it would make him come faster. It was irrational, she knew, but she wondered it just the same. After having waited for so long for this day to come, she would try anything, irrational or not, to make their meeting time arrive. She felt she could not wait one more second.
But she’d have to wait, because she had been outside for half an hour now, 15 minutes past their agreed-upon time, and he still had not come. Tired of standing and having worn out all her nervous energy by pacing back and forth, she plopped down on the curb. She looked at her feet and noticed the many cigarette butts scattered around her. She had gone through half a pack. “He better come soon,” she said aloud to no one, “and he better have cigarettes.”
Ana walked through the revolving door out into the busy street. She was still in her hospital gown, and some people in the lobby stared as she walked out. She didn’t notice.
She paused just outside the door. The sun was bright and beating down on her head but the air was cool. The combination left her perfectly comfortable in her scant covering.
She looked up one way of the street and down the other, watching the people going by in each direction. They were choosing where to take themselves, to one way or the other. Now that she was out, she could choose, too.
She turned to walk up the street. Eventually, probably soon, someone would realize she was gone, and then word would be given to find her. But she still had some minutes to walk freely. She would give herself a full, glorious five minutes of complete freedom before she thought of what was to come next.
My house sits atop of a mountain in the middle of the sea. It is a box made of transparent glass. It sparkles in the sun and in the moonlight brightly enough for the ocean creatures below to see. My house is big, much too big for only one person. Yet, here I am alone in it.
I’ve lived here almost all my life, ever since the ruler grew tired of me following his steps. He made the house, tucked me into it, set the roof in its place over me, and left. I never had a choice, so I’ve never been very sad about not being able to leave.
I live comfortably here. The ruler was tired of me, but he did not wish to kill or harm me, so he filled the house with everything I could need. I won’t go hungry. If I’m sick, I have plenty with which to care for myself. The house is full of books, art, movies, music, and if I were to get tired of these, there is always the immense sky and ocean to look out on through the transparent walls. Sometimes I see sharks and whales and fish whose names I do not know below the clear water. They used to scare me, especially when I would see their eyes shining up at me at night. But now I pay them no attention and instead look at the stars. No creature from the sea or from the sky could break through this box.
She rose out of the water in the middle of the afternoon. Her dress stuck wetly to her body and drops fell rapidly from the gathered gray fabric at her ankles. She immediately started walking forward not stopping to wipe the water from her eyes or pull the strands of hair from her face. The wind was her friend and moved the drops and strands to their place without her asking.
She walked steadily on the face of the water, the waves lapping at her heels and toes. How long had the water held her underneath? It would one day hold her again. But today it would have a break.
As she neared the shore, she wove through the few people pretending it was still summer and playing in the cold water. Perhaps they were the ones who would one day join her underneath the waves. Today, they did not see her.
Soon she reached the end of the water, stepped over the edge of the pier, walked down its full length, and headed into the streets.
(Listen as you read for a fuller experience.)
He craned his long, white neck around the trunk of a tree. His wiry fingers curled around a branch and held him as he leaned forward, sniffing the air for any lingering of her perfume. Nothing.
His lips narrowed in frustration as he peered as far as he could into the darkness in all directions. Even with his keen sight, all he could see were the twisting branches and fallen leaves intertwining with the cold mist.
After a long moment standing still and hearing nothing, he softly crept forward, winding his way through the tall, leaf-less trees, stopping here and there to again sniff, peer, and listen. Time and energy were no barriers to him. He would find her.
She wound her way through the tall, leaf-less trees, stopping here and there to unstick her long coat from the rocks and twigs that tore at the fabric as she walked steadily through the forest. She had left before sunrise and had reached the forest before any light could show her leaving. It was now hours since then, and she welcomed the covering darkness of the dense forest.
She was hungry and thirsty and tired, but she had no thought of stopping, not yet. She had managed to bring one small bag of stolen food and water. If all went well, it would be enough, but she couldn’t use up what she had too soon. She would find him, kill him, and then she would have no more need, but it might still be some time before she did. He was clever and old, and he had done this many times. She was clever too, but she did not have his experience, and, she admitted to herself, probably lacked his patience. She had to be careful.