As soon as I took a sip I knew it was poisoned. It was already too late. I was going to die. I needed to get in touch with my grandson, but calling him would have been too risky, and I didn’t want him to see me dying. I knew it would be very painful. So, I decided to take a piece of paper and a pen and began to write. I wrote about the reason why I’d been poisoned, but mostly about his mom. As the letter became longer, remorse filled me and memories rushed inside my head.
“Madam? Did you hear what I said?”
“Hum yes but could you say it one more time please, I don’t think I quite understand”
“You are pregnant, you have to stop overworking yourself and rest or you’re gonna lose the baby”
As the words sunk, different feelings burst in me. I was pleased to have a child, growing in me. I was terrified by the idea of losing it. I was scared about losing my job. I was curious about its gender. I was frightened by giving birth. I was excited by the idea of squeezing it between my arms. But most importantly, I was filled with unconditional love towards my unborn child.
The Structure was offering an educational program, and even if I didn’t want to enrol her in this, I didn’t have a choice.
“Kat you have to”
“But I don’t want to Al’, I have a bad feeling about them, I feel like they are hiding something from us”
“What do you mean?”
“Look I don’t know it’s just a feeling in my guts, something is off with them, I don’t want her in there, that’s all I know”
“Katherine, do you hear yourself? The Structure is here to help us, they protect and provide for all, what could they even hide from us? Listen Kat, I think your mother instincts of protection are speaking and its normal, but the Structure is good for us, do you remember how it was before? We used to live on the street Kat! We couldn’t even eat every day, and look where we are today and what the Structure has done for us”
I ended up registering her the same day, there was no other solution. I had to get back my job if I didn’t want to be demoted. And so, I worked and worked, and I saw my daughter less and less. I missed her, but the program took most of her days and my work took mine, and as soon as we were home we would both fall asleep until the next day. It went on for a while, until one day, Al’ found me in a hallway, looking extra stressed.
“Kat, you were right, you-you have to take her-take her and leave I will- I will cover you Kat”
“What’s going on Al’? You look like you’ve seen a ghost”
“You have to leave, take Mila and leave”
“As far as you can, you were right, they are hiding something and it’s not good, I gotta go Kat, but promise me you’ll leave tonight, I’ll do my best to cover you as long as I can, I love you Kat, I love you”
“Why are you not coming with us, I don’t want to leave without you Al’, I love you too”
“It’s already too late for me, they know”
And with that he was gone. I looked in the direction he took for a few seconds before running towards our room. I prepared a bag with everything I could find, clothes, dehydrated food, water, knives. I didn’t know what we would find out there. I hadn’t gone outside since the Structure took us in, forever ago. I didn’t even know how to get out. As if he heard me, Al’ sent me a text, or rather a word, “window”. As I was about to look out of the window, the door barged open.
“Mom are you okay? Uncle Al’ told me you weren’t”
“I’m okay, Al’ want us to leave, now”
“What? Why? Where is he?”
“He is not coming”
She was about to ask something when she saw me on the verge of crying. Instead, she hugged me. And then finished packing in silence. The only thing I could think of is that how fast she’d grown.
“How do we leave?”
I showed her the text, and as we approached the window, it pivoted on itself horizontally. Looking downward, all the windows in diagonal did the same until the ground. He made us stairs to outside. We picked up our bags and walked to the unknown.
As we lived longer by ourselves, I saw that they didn’t teach her the basics of life. She was 18 and I had to teach her what wood was, where water came from, what is meat and what animal she had before her eyes. She was all grown up, but she had no idea of where the food she ate daily came from. We followed Al’ advice and walked as far as we could, until we found the Abandoned, people that weren’t good enough to fit in the Structure. Before this day I didn’t know they existed. They welcomed, helped us, and we were getting ok.
Until years later, my transmitting device went off one night, I had refused to destroy it, it was my last string to Al’.
“They’re coming for you”
I warned everyone, and we left, we had to. As we were running we heard them, they were getting closer, fast. Mila gave me her son and told me to run, she told me that he had better chances to survive with me than with her. I saw the determination in her eyes.
“I love you”
‘I love you too, and tell him we love him too”
As she began crying she took the hand of her husband and faced them.
I put my pen down, as the effects of the poison began to strike.