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Ayisha walked gently, faintly, leaving no trace of her existence. A few leaves touched her face and covered the path but everything else seemed to ignore her. Her heart was weak, her mind was obliterated. Like a drunken surgeon, S… he had messed up her consciousness. As if aggravating an old and painful wound, he had said the words she did not want to hear. And he did not stop there; no, he brought to light her feelings of submission, of fear, of loneliness.
From a young age the young Miss Butterfil had dodged being close to her peers – a fearful ability called it her parents, being “a freak” called it the other kids. However, she was not that odd, nor was she a complete social misfit. Ayisha listened to all kinds of music – from popular to the classics, though she didn’t prefer either; she watched all sorts of movies and even liked the clichés in them; she played sports to the best of her ability and never refused to participate. Yet, the way she talked annoyed some, alienated others and repulsed still others – she could not help their lack of refinement or general intelligence. “Maybe I am precocious! When I get older things should level out, perhaps in a few years time.” Yet with every passing day the gap between her and “the crowd”, as she referred to everyone else, widened. “Maybe my surroundings are simply not good enough. When I enter a better high school, there will be fellow-minded individuals.” Indeed, her institution was among the best in the country and a few individuals excelled above her in some subjects. She got excited, “Finally, people to call my own, spend time with and … have fun.” They were truly ingenious in their fields, perhaps future inventors. But apart from that, there was nothing; much like a calculator they were perfect for doing calculations and useless for anything else.
“Maybe I am not trying hard enough”, Ayisha did not give up, “so I will do my best to be as friendly and amiable as I can.” Miss Butterfil attended all the socials she could, talked to everybody, always smiled and was never discourteously critical. And it worked – her peers started speaking to and inviting Ayisha to their gatherings, they phoned her and exchanged messages. But from time to time she would say something straight out of her heart without first having bashed it into a formless, likeable statement. As she read people’s expressions covertly saying “How awful, how appalling” there was no greater insult to somebody’s dignity.
Ayisha tried to control these moments yet they were an integral part of her, and it is not possible to stop using you hand simply because someone had found it inappropriate. So she stopped listening. She “dropped her act” and returned to her normal behavior. Ayisha didn’t chase anybody away – they left. On that very same day the young Butterfil wrote:
Dear Future Me,
I hope you are having a blast wherever you are. But I am no optimistic fool and I know things are unlikely to change. Please, I beg of you, uphold your dignity and character so far as you don’t scare anyone away. Please don’t become an easy woman either. But, please, please look out for opportunities and when they arise, grab them, take no prisoners. I assure you there won’t be many.
A despairing young maiden
Having come to haunt her, these words, Ayisha asserted, had proved to be her Achilles’ heel.
“I am sorry, my past self, and most certainly I will be sorry, future Ayisha, but I have tried everything, I have even diminished my ego to a grain of salt yet no joy comes from communication… Nothing… this overrated human medium of happiness is not for me … and I shall pursue it no longer…”
Mr. Edith did not require special permission to enter the school premises – he was one of the main benefactors and had, as a result of his generous donations, received certain special privileges. So he waited in his daughter’s room until the latter finished her noon lectures. Before long Emily entered. She was not surprised to see her parent as he had sent a message about his visit the day before.
“Father, it is an honour to have you here”, she began courteously.
“Daughter of mine, cut the small talk. I better than anyone know how and where the family’s money goes. Why have you paid this Sean fellow such a huge amount for nothing? Coincidentally, right after your fiancé Michel disappears. I know you didn’t like him that much but … to do … this?”
“To do WHAT, father? If you have the nerve to accuse your own daughter, please be so kind as not to leave anything implied.”
George took a deep breath.
“Emily, did you hire Mr. Cooper to do away with Michel?”
Without blinking she replied.
“No, I did not hire Mr. Cooper to do away with Michel!”
“Then what did you have him do? For this sum a young student would be willing to do…quite a lot”
“To use your vocabulary, father, I had him deal with minor HR issues.”
“This is unacceptable! The Drurys are a powerful family, well enough to rival ours, and making enemies of them is anything but a smart move. If they ever find out who is behind this fiasco, God help you. Where is the boy?”
“Wha….t”, George remained flabbergasted at Emily’s frivolous answer.
“Sean dealt with everything. You will have to ask him for such minor details.”
“Then introduce him to me so I can tie up your loose ends.”
Within a quick phone call Mr. Cooper was summoned and entered Emily’s quarters. He wore a victory grin, quite unlike a gentle smile with its malicious and complacent nature.
“Hello, Emily. Good day, Mr. Edith. How can I be of assistance?”
“Son, you have kidnapped, in itself a crime, the heir of a powerful rich family. How long do you think you will last when the Drurys hear of you? Do you have even a vague idea of the trouble you are in?”
“But, sir, you are mistaken. That fateful night I saw Michel in the men’s toilets at 7p.m. after which he attacked Emily, snatching her purse. After our encounter I was with a group of friends until the early hours of the morning and there is evidence to back up everything I say. How do you propose I kidnap him under these circumstances?” However, this plea of innocence contrasted with his smirk expression, giving an impression of ridicule rather than sincerity.
“Don’t play games with me. You were paid by my daughter to get rid of him. Co-operate so I can get you both out of this!”
“Mr. Edith, if the Drurys are as powerful as you say, they should be intelligent and rational people, too. If I physically don’t have the chance to do something, I don’t think they would bother pursuing me for it. If they had such intentions, I believe your daughter would be the first to ‘feel the heat’.”
His arguments were convincing, thought George, he had an alibi, yet Sean’s posture, his body language, and most of all his expression spoke: “I did it and you can’t figure out how!” So he decided to change his approach.
“Sean, you don’t have many allies with this attitude, do you?”
“I ally myself only with useful people so naturally I do not, George… I mean Mr. Edith”, but nobody in the room doubted whether it was intentional.
“Don’t you feel you need help with … unforeseen events, then?”
“Until girls stop being gullible and asking their parents to help their boyfriends I think I will be fine.”
It took great effort for George to subjugate his anger and not hit Sean but he barely managed.
“Fair enough, case closed then. If you believe you can fend off for yourself, who am I to offer my help?!”
“Watch your tongue, young man, I might just cut it.”
“But I thought you needed thinking and self-sufficient workers in your business.”
“So that is why you wanted to help my daughter. You were after the family fortune. It all makes sense now.” And a weird and uncomfortable laughter found its way out of his mouth. But Sean remained calm, waiting for him to quiet down and replied:
“Sir, I have to work now and must bid you ado. Please, in the future, don’t stress Emily too much. She is in a fragile state right now”, said Sean, mustering the most lustful expression. He got up, shook hands and on his way out, slightly touched Emily’s belly. But George paid little attention to that. All he wanted was for him to get out so he could ask the fateful question. Like a bullet, he shot it out.
“Are you pregnant?”
Emily, who found their conversation boring and did not listen, started laughing:
“He is the only one who can convince you of such an absurdity.”
“Thank God. Emily, you have taken a real monster, a true creature of the dark, and introduced it to our world. You can’t imagine the consequences…”
“As long as it’s fun I don’t care.”
“Emily, you damned fool…”