Little British Girl...

- Decide where you belong -

In a world split into two zones, north and south live separately. The sole-superpower, America in the north, and every other country lives in the south. Trespassing is punishable by death.
When Elia, a British citizen, wakes up in the northern zone she is forced to trust local cop Daniel to keep her safe. With no memory of how Elia came to the north, and no recollection of why, she and Daniel decide to try and figure it all out. But along the way secrets are uncovered, allies are made, and Elia begins to play dangerous games, with tragic costs.

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2. Chapter 2

I am rudely awoken the next morning my a magazine hitting my head in a swatting motion. I resist the great urge to slap the guilty party, I am not a fly, I am a human being.

“Wake up, little british girl.” I hear Daniel’s voice follow the dehumanising action, and I roll my eyes. Not wishing to seem feeble, and not wanting to annoy the man who held my life in his hands, I did as he said. I sat up slowly, trying to subtly stretch as I did so. The sofa was not a satisfactory alternative to a bed, and I had a painful crick in my neck and ache in my back after just a few hours resigning in it. “Did you sleep well?”

“I didn’t sleep for long enough,” I mutter, looking at the clock, “It’s only 7am and we got back here at 3.”

“Coffee?” He suggests, using it as a peace offering. I twitch, wondering if I dare say what I am thinking…

“Do you have any tea?” I requested, hoping I don’t sound too much like the ‘little british girl’ he thinks me to be. He laughs, walking over to his kitchen counter.

“How typical...ah well, if you insist.” he retrieves an unopened packet from the cupboard and begins to boil the kettle. He whistles as he works, a sound which makes my fingers itch, and my ears scream. I want to ask him to stop, but I’m so afraid to anger him. I’ve never been in such a predicament before, I don’t know what to do. This man, this ‘Daniel’, could hand me in at any moment, and in doing so, he would be sending me to my death. A few minutes later he places two mugs down on the table. Thankfully, he has stopped whistling. “Look...we have to make this quick, I have work in forty minutes, so how about we get straight to the point?” He’s using the same voice he used last night, it’s firmer and more militant, I don’t like it as much as his normal, softer tone.

“Okay” I nod, sipping my tea, he made it far too weak, and it’s unsweetened.

“You claim you don’t know how you got into the northern zone…”

“I don’t,” I verify again, wanting to make that extremely clear, “I don’t remember anything much about last night. I remember going out with my friends, but nothing after that. The next thing I knew I was waking up on the pavement, I just assumed I was in the southern zone. I tried to find a bus stop so I could go home, but I bumped into you first, and well...you know the rest.”

“Yes, well that’s your side of the story at least.” He takes a swing of his coffee, gulping nearly half the cup down in one go. I think he’s trying to seem manly in doing it, but he actually resembles an ape.“But how do I know you’re not lying? You could be a spy for all I know! Or a fugitive fleeing the southern zone…or a-never mind. My point is, how do I know I can trust you?” It’s a good question, one I don’t know how to answer. I don’t have a certificate claiming my innocence, and even if I did he’d probably assume it was a forgery. My throat goes dry as I try and think of what to say, he’s waiting for my answer, and he’s getting more and more impatient with every second that passes.

“Because all I want to do is get out of here.” I tell him, “Ask yourself this, why would a spy want to leave? Why would a refugee return? Who would spend time and effort getting in, only to turn around and go back?” Daniel sits back, contemplating what I have just said. He rubs his chin in thought, brushing his thumb against the stubbly surface. He needs a shave. Maybe he’s growing a beard? Do I dare tell him I think he’d look better without one?

“I believe you,” he interrupts my thoughts, “And I will help you get home...but it’s going to take time. To get you back across the border will be extremely difficult. We’ll need to plan ahead, in extensive detail. In the meantime, you need to be able to pass as an American. Which means no British accent, can you fake an American one?”

“I don’t know…”I crease my brow as I try to get into character, shifting in my position slightly, “Hey there...dude?” My British tone is creeping through most of the time, and it’s too fake anyway. Daniel sighs, shaking his head and biting his lip. He’s probably considering handing me in, it would be easier on his behalf, but I think his conscience is too strong for him to do that, I think.

“That...was pathetic.” I bury my head slightly, taking another sip of my tasteless tea, “Okay. Let’s try again, this time shorten your a’s in certain words, and raise the pitch of your vowels a bit.” I focus more this time, keeping what he said in mind.

“Hey, my name’s Elia.” It is better than before, it’s not great, but it’s an improvement.

“It will have to do.” I think that is Daniel’s idea of a compliment, “But there’s something else, your name. Elia is lovely, don’t get me wrong, but it is very european. There aren’t many American girls called Elia. You need something more normal, something people won’t think twice about...how about Ellie? No-one’s going to bat an eyelid at an Ellie.”

“I could get used to Ellie.” I agree, though I am secretly hoping he’ll only call me that in public, I prefer Elia for sure.

“Okay, good, well...I have to head off now. If anyone knocks, ignore it, and if someone with a key comes in, say you’re an old friend. Just tell them your name’s Ellie, and you’re not staying long. Don’t go into details, keep it simple.” Daniel speaks to me as he puts on his coat and rucksack. “I’ll be back around 6, don’t leave the house until then.”

“What’s your job?” I ask out of sheer curiosity.

“...I’m a cop.” Daniel confesses, and I can hardly believe what I am hearing. A cop. A cop saved my life and broke the 1st law. I suppress my laughter, it’s not at all funny. “I know, it’s a little odd, a cop saving you and all...But I guess I feel a little sorry for you, and I genuinely believe you’re innocent, so yeah, I’m going to help you out.” I look up at him, to meet his pale blue eyes with my splodgy brown ones.

“Thank you” I murmur, he nods solemnly in response, before heading out of the door.

With the apartment to myself, I decide to explore. Daniel's not the tidiest person, but he’s not exactly a slob. His dishes are washed, but not put away. His surfaces are de-cluttered, but dusty. His litter is in the bin, but the bin is overflowing. I sigh, back home mum forced me to tidy so extreamly it took up most of my day. She wouldn’t let me go out unless my desk was spotless, and it was always my turn to do the ironing. Without really realising what I am doing, I start to load the dishwasher, and put away his plates. I dust his surfaces and replace the bin bag, I even run the hoover around the room. It gives me something to do, a purpose, rather than just sitting down waiting for him to come home again. It also provides a distraction, so I don’t have to think about my mum worrying at home, phoning up my friends in case they know where I am. As I put the duster back in the cupboard my eyes wander to the landline, and I consider giving her a ring, but even if the call did get through to the southern zone, it would be traced back her, back to me, and I would be found. I dart my eyes away, and decide to polish some of the filthy ornaments Daniel has on his mantelpiece, I don’t go back to that cupboard for the rest of the day. I make my way into the bathroom, chucking a few empty shampoo bottles in the bin, and spraying the surfaces. I stop at the mirror as I leave, looking directly at myself.

“Hey, I’m Ellie.” I sound like a character in a bad animated movie, but I don’t sound British, which is good I suppose. I shift my weight to my right leg, so I lean sideways, and place a hand on my hip. I tilt my head backwards, and smile more. “Hey, I’m Ellie.” It’s a lot more convincing with the change in posture, mainly because it distracts from the voice. I turn back into Elia, and get back to my cleaning. I avoid the bedroom, not wanting to invade his privacy, and I am finished all too soon. I help myself to a tin of soup for lunch, and tidy away after myself once I am done, but with a good three hours left until Daniel arrives back, and nowhere left to tidy, I am out of distractions.

I am about to surrender and turn the TV on, when I trip over something. It is a square book, with pages falling out of it. It is clearly quite old and has been through a lot of wear and tear. I dust it off and place it on my lap, smiling when I see what is inside.

It is a picture of a tired woman in a hospital bed, holding a baby in her arms. She is probably only smiling for the purpose of the photo, as she is clearly exhausted, but her soft hold encasing the newborn proves how much she cares for him. It is labelled ‘5th March’ in scrawny handwriting. As I flick through I see the child grow up into a toddler, a child, a teenager, and a young adult. The book is only half full, but every page is coated in photographs. A part of me feels guilty for looking into Daniel’s past uninvited, but a bigger part of me feels warm inside as I do so. By the time I am done, I feel as if I could write a half-decent biography about his life. I place the book back where I found it, and turn on the TV.

It’s just the afternoon news, but it’s very interesting. We don’t hear much about the north in the south. Unless it involves our zone as well as the northern zone, we are kept in the dark. I now see the same goes for the north, there is no informing of the southern recession in these headlines, or of the election of the new British prime minister. I also notice that the two zones really aren’t that different, technology seems to be just as advances here as it is in the south, and no zone is richer than the other. This is reassuring to say the least, living in the south I often wondered if the northerners were just standing by as we suffered through our setbacks, but now I know both sides have flaws. The only figure I do recognise is Xander Moore, the chief of northern security. Debates between him and the southern chief of security are often aired. He’s been in the position for years, some people think he’s remarkable, others think he’s been perched on a pedestal. Personally, I’m not all that bothered. He’s done some good things for the security of both zones, but there’s something about the way he speaks and presents himself that doesn’t ring true. He’s not involved too much in southern affairs though, so why should I care? He’s talking about a visit the southern leaders are making to the north, and how they aim to make it secure so no-one else can break through. I don’t understand a lot of it, and I doubt most people do. I hear the key unlock the door, and Daniel steps inside. He’s holding a bag of groceries in either hand and looking down at his feet whilst he walks over to the kitchen counter.

“I’m back, how’ve you been?...Wow.” He finally looks up and notices his tidier home.

“I, uh, did a little cleaning to, um, keep myself entertained.” I confessed.

“Um, thanks. I wasn’t expecting you to do anything except watch TV if I’m honest.” He tries to make a joke out of it, and I laugh for the sake of it, and because of my nerves, “You didn’t have to you know, you’re my guest, you don’t have to do my housework.”

“It was no trouble” I assure him, he nods placing his hands behind his back and shifting his weight from one leg to the other. Neither of us know what to do now, all that needs to be said has been spoken, and we are left with nothing but our own personalities to keep the conversation going. Daniel begins to unpack the groceries, resorting to actions to break the stillness, and after a few seconds I go over to help him.

“So...have you worked on your accent?” The conversation topic turns back to my situation, much to my discomfort. I breath out my negativity, and try to seem light-hearted. Americans are quite light-hearted aren’t they? That’s how they seem in the television shows.

“Sure have.” I speak with an American voice, and Daniel rolls his eyes, but he also smiles, which is good. He’s not worried, that means I’ve improved. I can pass as an American, I can be Ellie.

“Welcome to America Ellie” Daniel turns to me, a curve on his lips.

“Thanks Daniel” I giggle, maintaining the accent. In this moment, I feel as if I might actually be able to get through this, and I might actually enjoy my time here.

 

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