What Must Be Done

Gillian shares my face, and Alexander is her soon-to-be dead date.

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1. What Must Be Done

I walk down the grey morning street, my black boots clicking against the frozen pavement, each hiding a knife. I look like any regular working woman walking down the streets of the big city, like I have for the last few months of my life, and yet, I’m not.

I walk until I reach the park in the center of the city, where I sit on a bench and watch bundled up civilians scurry past, as I do every morning. They’re always in such a hurry to get away from wherever they’re coming and to wherever they’re going, they never stop to take in anything in between, like me. One young man walks past, my age, standing out in the crowd despite being fairly unremarkable. His hat-topped head is held high, and he’s strolling along like it’s ninety eight degrees outside and he’s on a beach in Tahiti. I stand up and rejoin the stream of people, walking along side him. The top of my knit hat clears his shoulder by an inch and a half.

“Morning, Alexander.” I say, a hint of an English accent in my voice.

“Gillian! How are you this fine morning?” He asks, tipping his hat to show perfectly styled chestnut hair. The crinkles around his intense blue eyes tell me he is sincerely happy to see Gillian, which is one of the many names that share my face.

I bend my ruby lips into a small smile. “I’m alright. On your way to the office, then?”’ He smiles an easy smile, displaying perfect, white teeth. We are both assistant editors for a small publishing firm, and rather good friends. Or, at least, he and Gillian are, but that’s a line that’s so blurred by now that I’m not sure where one starts and another begins.

“Indeed I am,” he answers. “I presume you’re headed that way as well.”

“Yes.” I bat the dark eyelashes that frame my green eyes.

“Let me accompany you, then, and buy you a cup of coffee on the way.” I take his proffered arm like I do every morning and let him lead me leisurely through the crowd with a “Thank you, Alexander.”

We soon arrive at a little coffee shop on a big street corner. I order a latte, skim milk, and he orders a coffee, black, as we both do every morning. We bask in the steam from our funny paper cups until we get to the door of the fourth building past the corner, the only brick structure within three city blocks, and stop outside the door.  

“Say, how would you like dinner tonight?” He asks, tilting his head. A happy smile graces my fairly pretty face.

“I would like it very much”. Tonight is the night. Finally, after tonight, I will be free. Free, I tell the nerves suddenly in my stomach. Free.

Later that evening I slip into a slim, black dress and heels, which have backup blades hidden in them. I slide on my ruby ring, which is filled with poison. My purse a contains a gun, some fake IDs, essentials. Soon, I am ready. Ready for the date, at least, not ready for it’s repercussions.

Nothing could get me ready for those.

Soon, Alexander rings the doorbell of my apartment. I collect myself and answer. He wears a nicer suit than usual under his grey coat, and with those eyes that seem to go on forever he looks incredibly handsome.

The small flutters in my stomach that I am actively ignoring make me regret what must happen this evening.

“Shall we?” he asks. His voice is like the sound of thunder when you’re half-asleep.

“We shall.” I step out and lock the door behind me, aware that it’s the last time I’ll ever do so.

We walk down the pavement together. The sun is beginning to set and it reflects off the shiny buildings, enveloping the world into a pleasantly hazy, orange glow despite the cold. We eat at a little Italian restaurant with checked tablecloths and candles. Dinner is enchanting, and I try not to think that it’s his last. As he finishes off his unpoisoned glass of wine I fiddle with my ring. His eyes rest on my writhing hands before flitting back up to my face. I stop. Later, Alexander pays and we leave, him guiding me gently with a warm hand on the small of my back. One opportunity missed. Emotions are getting in my way, but I must do what must be done.

If I don’t, I’ll never be back home. My body, tortured until it couldn’t help but give in, will be buried under the melting flower beds in Central Park, and I’ll never get back home to England, with my family, where I belong. I desperately need to get back.

Alexander walks me back to my apartment. I could stop him, suggest we find our way into an alley, or an abandoned building. Let him lead, and throw my knives. But I can’t. I can’t. I just can’t. I’m shaking, and I think he notices. He takes my hand, compliments my ring, the very one that I should have killed him with. I thank him and smile, smile at the sparkles in his eyes. With my eyes I tell him everything is fine.

But no. Everything is not fine. I have to kill him. I have to live. I have to kill to live. I must.

“Thank you for a lovely evening, Alexander.” I say, reaching into my purse as if to get my keys. Instead, my hand wraps around the cool handle of my gun.

“No, thank you,” he says. Before I can realize what’s happening, we are so close that the slightest move would cause his lips to touch mine, and I am paralyzed with something that I do not seem to recognize. His eyes search mine, like he’s looking for something. He must have found what he was looking for because suddenly his lips are warm against mine and I can’t help but kiss him back as something I haven’t felt in a long time rises inside of me. Happiness. Happiness. It feels funny, disorienting. Happy. I’m happy. No, don’t be happy, be angry. Anger kills. Happy is bad. My mind swirls as Alexander kisses me and holds me close before breaking away, looking down, and seeing the gun dangling from my lax hand. He doesn’t seem all that very surprised.

“Really, thank you,” he whispers, looking into my astonished eyes before disappearing into the starry night, leaving me cold after his warmth.

“No,” I know he’s gone but I whisper back into the cool dark anyway, “thank you.”

Because in that moment I realize. Alexander has a full life of hats and lovely, styled hair ahead of him. He has a career to move up in, and many, many black coffees to drink. He has so much left to do and I’d rather die than take that out on him.

So I will.

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