In answer to Linda G Hill’s stream of consciousness prompt Attach/Attachment
She’d been attached – shackled really – to that wall for hours. What could they want from her that required such long isolation? She didn’t have much to say. She had even less to reveal. Even if they had proof of her involvement, she only knew the part of the plan she was supposed to complete, nothing more. The fact that she was caught was concerning, but not overly so. Hers was the simplest yet the most important, part of the plan. At least according to the message she’d received. What worried her was the time wasted.
Her hands, her arms were hurting from the weight of the chains and manacles pulling at her skin. And she was parched. The bowl of water was out of her reach, so she could only wet her lips with what little saliva she had left. Her lips were cracked though. Would they bring her food or allow her to drink? She didn’t know.
She still wondered how it was possible that she was caught. Rather, she wondered how their information could have been so wrong. She went through everything, trying to figure out what she could have done differently.
She moved to the small apartment 3 months before: her request was approved extremely fast, which meant the rebels had people high up in the Housing Ministry. She’d met her neighbours and established her routine, running every night when she came back from work, so everyone in the vicinity would notice. She ran three different routes, which she alternated so people couldn’t guess she was observing the one house she needed to enter on the day she’d receive her orders.
That night she left for her run slightly later; she’d find herself at the house right about curfew. She ensured her watch was 3 minutes late, no more. It couldn’t be obvious. When the alarm went off in the neighbourhood she entered the property as she was supposed to. Anyone would understand. Being arrested after curfew was an offense punishable by up to 2 weeks in prison, depending how far from your home you were found. She only lived two blocks away, so in case of an inquiry, there’d be an entire neighbourhood who could testify she did run every night.
Unfortunately, the moment she stepped on the porch another alarm went off: one she’d only heard once in her life. There was a Cabinet member in the house. Everything had been planned so it would be empty. Panicked she turned around and made her way back to the street. But she never reached it. Within seconds, car and trucks filled with military personnel arrived. She was on her knees, manacles on her hands before she could open her mouth. They blindfolded her, placed a white noise head set on her ears and brought her here. Wherever here was. There was nothing she could have done. Absolutely nothing. But she’d been there for hours without being able to tell her story, defend herself.
When the door opened, she blinked. The light was blinding: she realized the guard was holding a flashlight to her face, while another officer unhooked the chains and pulled her up. Everything hurt after being chained down and not moving for hours, but neither seemed to care as they marched her through a corridor.
The room they brought her in looked nothing like an interrogation room. In fact she might have been in the office a man kept at home. Cosy and agreeable. The guard attached her to a chair; one she was surprised to find comfortable. What was going on? Could it be that they knew? She found she was sweating. She was more scared to be here than she’d been in the cell. At least a prison meant dealing with detectives. They would listen to her story, check it and realize that she was indeed caught outside at curfew because her watch was late. A fine, maybe a day in prison would be it. But a place like this, something that could be one of the Cabinet members’ offices: they must have an inkling something was up. She was in trouble.
When the side door opened, she felt terror. He was here. How could he be here? It was no mere cabinet member, the President came in. Biting her lips to avoid making a sound she lowered her eyes. But she couldn’t help observing him. He’d been in charge for almost 10 years and he looked exactly the same as when she first saw him. He was handsome, his muscles well defined underneath the shirt he wore. Was it possible? Could it be that she still felt some attachment for him despite everything? No. He dismissed the two guards with a slight wave and sat in front of her.
She hesitated… before meeting his gaze. His grey eyes hadn’t lost any of their intensity but there was sadness too. Now that she looked at him closely, she could see the lines etched in his face and brow, the soft lines around his eyes. So power had taken its toll. Good. But he remained as handsome as he was then. Again? She loved him once. In fact she hadn’t loved anyone since him. There had been men in her life but nothing that ever felt like him. No.
“Good evening Sasha.”
She bit her lips not to scream. How could he know? Everything was so wrong. No one, nobody, not even the Chief knew her real name. How could he recognize her? She had changed; her hair was different, she’d worn contacts for 10 years and she’d put on some weight.
“Your papers say Ana but you and I both know it was your sister’s name. You’re not as careful as you thought.”
There was no point denying it. He knew her. But she didn’t intend to give him anything else.
“You haven’t changed.” She snorted. “No you haven’t. The long hair suits you though. I’m glad you let it grow.”
She remained silent, not trusting herself to speak.
“Don’t you want to know how I knew to expect you here tonight?”
She was still in the house? Well, she didn’t need him to tell her. Someone in the organisation had betrayed them or was a spy. They had their own in the government. She wasn’t so stupid as to believe that the reverse wasn’t true. That was why people only knew the part they had to play.
“Do you even know you’re only a decoy?”
She bit her lips again, remembering too late that this man knew her better than many, as well as her telltales. No she hadn’t known. But she wasn’t going to tell him anything. She only knew the part she had to play.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about. I was merely late in my daily run. The house had a light so I thought I should ask for help instead of being arrested past curfew. I live two blocks away from here.”
“I know. With your son.”
It took everything she had to not tremble. He couldn’t know about Victor. She had done all she could to avoid anyone knowing about him.
“You probably wonder why I’m here with you even though I know the true mission is the Defence Building.”
“I don’t really know.”
“Sasha, don’t play stupid. You were always clever. That’s one of the reasons I loved you. I know you’re part of the rebellion. If I’d known you were alive earlier, I would have…”
“killed me? Like you did all my family!”
She cut him savagely. She might have loved him. She knew she had loved him, more than reason, but she was unlikely to forget how 10 year old Ana was shot in the head in front of her eyes. Her sister had never done hurt anyone, she’d only been a child. She had tears in her eyes. And she hated him for that. That he looked so sad now angered her even more.
“I didn’t kill them. That wasn’t me. Nor was it my plan or idea.” She didn’t care. It didn’t matter. She didn’t want to know. He sighed. “I wanted to see you. I’ve waited for today since I knew you would be coming here.”
She was curious. She did want to know how he could possibly have learned she was alive. He’d always been good at keeping her guessing.
“They told me a woman wearing a tattoo below her ribs in the back would be the decoy at the Employment Minister’s house. So what? Many women had tattoos. “And that this tattoo represented the solar system.”
She almost gasped. There was only one person beside Gregory who had ever seen that tattoo. The Chief was a government’s spy.
“I knew it could only be you. I had to see you.”
“Why? So you can kill me now. I’m the last of the royal family, the last person standing between you and absolute power. I haven’t done anything in 10 years Gregory. Nobody knows who I am.”
She hoped he would forget her son. He stood and came to kneel beside her. Tied to the chair, Sasha couldn’t move away from him. She didn’t want him so close. His hand leaned on her face: his touch obviously still awakened an answer in her body. It disgusted her. How could she still feel something for that man? That monster? When his lips pressed hers, she stopped breathing. He kissed her deeply, reminding her of the attachment that bound them then. He kissed her in the same way he did that night he asked her to marry him, the night Victor was conceived. Merely two weeks before the coup. He had used her to get to power. She’d been a tool. She should hate him. Could it be they were still attached to one another? He stopped the kiss and met her gaze.
“I love you still Sasha.” She turned her head away. “And I am the leader of the rebellion.”
That shocked her speechless.
“Within a month you’ll be reinstated as the queen of Dokhra. I’m not letting you out of my sight until you sit on that throne.”