The ignition turned. The engine roared to life but the car didn't move. It merely vibrated in the same place.
What now? What can I do?
I couldn't breathe and I couldn't think. I was stuck. Cold and ghastly hands held my lungs, throat, arms and legs and yet somehow I was sweating. Tiny beads of sweat lined my entire body. Like an anvil they and weighed my arms and legs down.
Run? Where too?
I'm too scared to run. They'll find me. It's a new age and even though we, the people, don't have any real access to technology it still managed to be the enemy of every free thinking man and woman.
Can I still call myself a free thinker? Do I have the right o call myself anything of the sort? I ran didn't I?
I ran like a coward . I got in this car. The car I'm sitting in and floored it. They chased me. My God did they chase me. Four cars in all and only three had sirens and the blaring lights that tended to go with sirens. The thought of the fourth car chasing me made me shiver. There was no doubt in my soul of who the owners of the fourth car were. The silent police.
The car faltered and I turned the engine off again. Running away wasn't hard in a densely populated area like this. I guess it was one of the positives of having a piece of shit for a car. It looked just like everyone else's. All I had to do in the chase was stop. But I didn't stop out of bravery or quick thinking. I'd given up.
Why run? What's the point? Should I run?
No I'm already dead. They'd already killed me before I'd started running.
[8 hours earlier]
"Did you reach anyone today?" Sun asked poking her head out of the kitchen just when I stepped into our tiny two bed room apartment.
"Think I was close today. But not a single child raised their hand or added any input. I could have said anything and it wouldn't have mattered. All they did was stare" I said closing the door behind me.
"Isn't that what a teacher wants?"
"No. Any teacher that wants absolute silence throughout is no teacher at all."
"Really? Then what is a teacher?" Came Sun's voice after she
disappeared inside the kitchen. Typical I thought. Sun could
drown you in questions and if you tried returning with your own.
She'd turn it around on you without a doubt. She didn't need
answers she could live off her own questions. In a way she was
like a child. It was probably why I loved her such much.
I rushed behind her and hugged her before sliding my hands to her thighs. She stopped stirring the black boiling pot and held my hands as if to pull them off her, but she could have easily pulled me free if she wanted to. Slowly I worked my way up to her hips then to her stomach. It was funny how small Sun was. Her skin was so soft that it felt like I was holding cloud.
"You want to know what a teacher is? A teacher is a person who inspires his or her students to learn in order to better themselves and the people around them thereby liberating a nation."
Sun burst out laughing when my fingers tickled her skin as they kept moving upwards.
"Those are strong words. Tell me are you a teacher by that same definition?" Sun asked in a playful voice.
"No I'm not," I sighed, "My students point that out to me everyday when they just stare." Sun went back to stirring when the pot started bubbling heavily again. Her whole body shook and almost seemed to rattle under my own when she stirred her pot.
"You did teach one child." She said when I kissed her on her cheek.
"Yes and have you heard from our daughter?" I asked playfully, knowing she couldn't have.
"I have actually. I used the internet." She said simply.
I stopped kissing her immediately. The internet wasn't something a person used freely.
"Which one?" I asked quickly letting go of her. She felt me tensing on her and stopped stirring.
"Don't get upset. I used the home one" She said.
Without thinking I stepped back from Sun as if she were some kind of poison. I was trying not to be upset and it was surprisingly hard. The internet was only useable under direct super vision and all out-of-country sites were banned and blocked from everyone. There was no real way to talk freely to our daughter from overseas and most conversations were heavily monitored. We had made our own satellite connection from our own research but we never used it without making precautions and we never used it alone.
"Why Sun? Why did you use it?" I asked softly.
Sun was staring at me now before choosing to examine the floor. There were few things Sun could hide from me one of them was not emotion. She was clearly hiding something else.
I cant run. I can't hide either.
I started the car now that I had regained the ability to move my arms. A siren blared out and I immediately turned the engine off. It was only a medic van.
Were they even looking for me?
Of course they were. If I could somehow cross the border. There'd be hell to pay. I'd make damn sure of it. I'd tell the world! My daughter would help too. They'd give me my Sun back. I wanted her back! The engine shook as I kicked the car seat. I calmed down. I'd never make it. By now every member of the police knew what I looked like. Also I didn't want to drag my baby into these affairs. She'd be safe with me dead anyway. But I needed to talk to her first.
For the third time the engine roared to life.
"What is it?" I asked her. There was a moment of silence where she just stared. The boiling pot began to burn. I stepped past her and moved the pot. She flinched. Now for the first time I was scared. I'd never touch her if she didn't want me to. "Damn it Sun what's happening? Is it our baby? Is it our little girl?"
"No" Sun cried "It's nothing important like that. but" she hesitated "I got into an argument"
"So?" was my response, it was immediate. I was just dumbfounded about the reason why she thought I'd be upset but slowly the gears in my head started moving and added one and one together. I sighed curious of what would be said next. "with who Sun?"
"A real preacher or someone preaching" I asked.
Sun lifted her sleeve. There was a purple mark on her skin. I was stunned and furious. My feet rooted firmly to the ground.
"Who did this the 'preacher!'" I yelled I was truly furious now. There was an uncrossable line that I felt was crossed by touching Sun.
"It wasn't just the preacher. There were others they said they were police but they wore plain clothes. They tried to grab me but I pulled free and lost them in the crowd."
"I'm sorry Sun" I said hugging her. I didn't want to let her go. Every breath I took was for her. Thirty years and I still couldn't imagine living without her. Right now my imagination was driving me mad. Sun could be too inquisitive and playful for her own good. One wouldn't think such a sharp mind lurked behind her eyes. I had no doubt about what had happened. Sitting on the sides watching our country dissolve deeper into madness and stupidity tested even my patience. I couldn't imagine how Sun suffered watching it all.
Not going to school was encouraged here. Ignorance was the oil that fuelled the power of the police and the idea of plain clothes police and equally dangerous copy cat cops made the government as a whole a fearsome force.
"I'm sorry I wasn't there" was the best I could say. Sun hugged me back, she was crying now. Sun wore her heart on her sleeve so easily. Maybe I was the mad one by agreeing to live in this country. Here was a woman who couldn't help but be who she was. And because I didn't put my foot down about leaving Sun was suffering.
"Sun let's leave. We'll move to America or Japan or South Africa. We can forget all this and start over." Sun cried even louder now. "I can go back to teaching English. You can teach too with your studies" Sun sniffed the tears away before she responded.
"No I won't leave. Not until we do our part. Even if it's tiny."
"Our part in what? What about our D-"
"She knows and she understands." There was very real determination in her voice.
"That's what you were talking about on the internet wasn't it"
"Yes" She said.
"Sun. What 'difference' are you talking about?"
The car revved and I pressed on the accelerator. The car moved slowly out of the drive way. The car turned out and into the street before reaching a shopping mall I'd driven past before but I'd never stopped at. I was stopping today that was for sure. I fixed my collar and got out the car. There was spare tie in the boot. I jiggled the key inside the boot and pulled up on the key. The solid felling of the key turning without obstacles was a relief. The boot opened and I rummaged for my tie. I found it and put it on. It was important to me that I looked the part.
"I've been talking to people" Sun said losing her tearful face for a determined one.
"Which people about what?" I replied.
"Friends and family about our daughter and how we can't talk to her without risking jail."
"and did it turn out well?" I asked. There wasn't hope in my voice when I asked. It was all automatic reactions running ahead of my panic-stricken mind. .
"I think it did actually. I was impressed by what some people said" Sun said brightening up slightly.
"I don't really care what they said Sun. I only care what you said. You should know that there's a chance that they were fishing for your input on the government." I said. Sun pulled away from me and dished into two plates "So Sun? what did you say?" I continued, pressing her on this issue.
"Only what I feel" Sun said flatly.
Typical I thought again.
"When did you do all this 'talking'" I asked slowly holding myself from losing my mind.
"The past month" was her reply.
I was still fuming but if nothing had happened in the past month then chances were that nothing was going to happen. I felt hope for what felt like the first time.
I left the kitchen to the window of our bedroom. It wasn't a big room but it wasn't a big apartment so the room was big enough. I took off my tie and unbuttoned my shirt. I opened the window and a soft breeze cooled my skin but not my mind. Sun wouldn't leave and if she didn't leave then I wouldn't leave either. It was as simple as that. Looking out of the window lights below attracted my attention. We were three stories up and you couldn't see much other than the parking and the opposite apartments parking area. The lights belonged to more than one car, which was something that rarely happened. Some of the lights looked a lot like police lights but still nothing registered in my mind.
I stepped into an internet café. There was a guard there but I brushed past him. I went straight for the clerk.
"I'm in a rush I need to hand in important results to the head of schools"
He didn't seem to care at all. But then again why should he? He nodded and stuck out his hand. I really didn't want to cause a scene and I could see that guard taking a second look back at me and the clerk. I had no choice. I took out my identification and handed it to the clerk. The clerk checked it to see if was real. I knew it had a stamp that said teacher on it so my story definitely checked out. After almost a minute he nodded and logged me on. As I expected there was no one on a PC in the whole café. Internet cafés were for show only. They were there so when the outside world looked we could say we have it. I sat on the furthest PC and typed quickly. As expected all sites useful to me were shut down. Sun had showed me how to find a proxy she had created. She had showed me how to exploit it to its fullest. I logged on to GMail and wrote my message. I hadn't read English in a while and the sudden change was disorienting. I wrote my message for my daughter who was offline. I was grateful for that. It made writing this so much easier.
Police lights? Inside our parking lot? I'd never seen that before. I tried to ignore it by looking at the other windows of the opposite flat. All lights were on but only a few apartments looked active. Slowly I started to notice a trend. Faces were appearing in widows. They had noticed the lights too. My curiosity muddled with my mind but all my thoughts seemed to settle on one undeniable fact.
Something was happening.
DAUGHTER THIS MAY BE THE LAST MASAGE I CAN SEND TO YOU
There was knock on the door.
"Sun?" I called out and Sun called back oblivious of the commotion below. The knock repeated but louder this time. I stepped out of the room just as the door burst open. Sun screamed and before I could think of anything I was already running. Three shots fired. All I could hear in my head was Sun's scream. I'd never heard her scream like that. I sprinted into the room in time to see Sun fall dead. With three bloody holes in her chest and one in her head. Stunned I ran toward her and turned away in time to avoid getting shot. I could hear shouting and then running. I ran into my room and shut the door behind me. Within seconds the door burst open but I was gone from their views and hanging precariously out my own window. My heart was racing so hard it hurt my ribs. My ears were ringing painfully. My strained fingers and eyes were burning up. Now is not the time to mourn! I yelled in my head. Turing around I saw faces staring at me but none willing to help in the least. They'd all seen me before but they would be told that I would bea terrorist and that would be that for them and that would be what I was from then onwards. I was three stories up hanging and I was losing my strength fast.
I WANT START BY SAYING THAT I'M SORRY. YOUR MOTHER IS DEAD. SHE'S BEEN SHOT BY THE POLICE. I'M SORRY BABY. I'M REALLY REALLY SORRY. THAT'S NOT ALL I WANTED TO TELL YOU. YOU MUST NOT COME BACK. PLEASE DON'T COME BACK HERE. THE REST OF OUR FAMILY WILL TAKE CARE OF US EVEN WHEN WE'RE BOTH DEAD. IF YOU WERE TO EVER LISTEN TO ME, CONSIDERING THAT YOU NEVER DO, LISTEN TO ME NOW. DO THAT FOR ME AND SUN.
Death seemed to be staring me in the face grinning at me, ready to swallow me whole. I tried to avoid thinking about the ground. The only other thing I could see was Sun's face. I looked down and the ground was all I could think of again. Someone stuck their head out of my room window the same second some one opened theirs a floor below. I jumped scraping my fingers against the walls until they found the lower ledge and froze in place. I was staring my neighbour in the eyes now. He didn't move a inch. There I was hanging on the second floor and all he could do was fucking stare. Ignorance and just plain stupidity was an amazing thing. I shuffled across the widow and jumped again. I hit the next widow, safe, again before I jumped off the first floor. I landed on a car hard.
Windows shattered around me and I lay hurt but surprisingly not broken. My car! I thought desperately searching for it till I found it.
DON'T RUN AWAY FROM LIFE MY CHILD. INSTEAD LEARN FROM THIS. YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A HERO TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. YOU DON'T HAVE TO SHOUT TO BE HEARD NOT WHEN THERE'S SOMEONE WILLING TO LISTEN TO YOU. LEARN FROM THIS MOMENT, LEARN FROM US, LEARN FROM THE WORDS OF PEOPLE WHO LIVED BEFORE YOU.
LEARN, SO OTHERS MAY LEARN…
I looked up from the screen and realised that someone was calling me. I looked more carefully and realised it was the guard. I ignored him and finished writing the last thing my daughter would ever hear from me. I typed faster. He was calling me by my full name now. I typed faster than I'd ever typed before. I waved back at him and I raced to finish my message. The thought of this being my last message filled my lungs with poison. I could taste it in my throat. The guard gave up on calling me and strode towards my PC. I clicked SEND and watched as it viewed a sending screen. It sent finally and I logged off. The guard grabbed my collar just as I switched off the whole window. He was talking but my stunned fear of being held by the guard deafened me. He was leading me to the clerk. I stepped ahead and kicked back in time to catch him in the groan. He fell slowly and my other foot helped him down with a kick to the head. I broke into a run and the clerk tried to get in my way. I blasted into him using my greater size and momentum. Within a minute I was in my car again turning the key for the fourth time and like 'old faithful' the car's engine roared to life. Beyond thought I began pulling and pushing on levers and sticks I couldn't think of let alone name. My car roared into action as if listening my soul's request rather than what my hands and feet were doing. I say my soul because my mind was dead. The sweating had returned but the hands that held before had never once let go of me, not since the moment that my house door had burst open.
Where am I going? What am I doing?
I was driving but I didn't know where to. All I could think was of that it was 'away'. That's what mattered. The security guard had spoken but he couldn't have known about me or his gun would have been out or he would have brought assistance. What had he wanted then? It didn't matter, what did matter to me was that my name was probably being run on a police wanted list right now and the murderers who killed Sun knew where I was or at least had an idea of where I was. I wish I knew where I was, I thought numbly to myself.
Ten minutes passed and the car stopped. My hands moved to the gears moving the stick to park. I watched myself turn the key and listened as the engine died down. I felt like a puppet being played by an invisible force. When I looked out my door a smile etched on my face for a second before my sadness took hold. I was outside my school. If anyone led me here it would have been Sun. She knew I wasn't going to leave. The car, I felt maybe because I'm crazy, had helped too.
My car wasn't new. It wasn't anywhere near new. Rust lined
various parts of the car's exterior. Time had worn out the edges
of the seat and the leather dashboard. The engine was twice as
old as the car looked but somehow it never let me down. And now I
wasn't going to ride it anymore someone else would own it or tear
it up. I was grateful that it had taken me so far.
I absently checked my hair in the rear view mirror. Tear lines stained my face. I'd been crying and I hadn't realized it until now. The funny thing about wiping tears away is that the act of cleaning had a knack of making you look worse. My eyes were red and my tears welled up all over again to replace the ones wiped away. Great now I AM crying! I thought as I dried my eyes. I leaned on the s