“lice… Alice!” She jumped up and stared straight in Sarah’s worried eyes. She was laying in a living room on an uncomfortable brown sofa. She felt a stinging pain in her hear and her back was hurting because of the uncomfortable position she was in. “What…” “You passed out on my steps.” Sarah gave an abrupt answer and stubbornly tried to evade her gaze. “You’re awake now, so you can leave.” Alice looked at her in surprise. “But, Sarah…” She didn’t finish her sentence. “Why did you even come here anyway? I thought we made a deal… No, you promised!” She released a deep sigh from her lips. Alice started. “I had to talk to you.” “Ok, talk.” Alice tried to catch her eye, but Sarah looked straight ahead. “How are you doing?” For a moment Sarah looked up. There was doubt in her expression at first, but in a split second it changed to anger. “Look if you’re here to talk about birds and bees you would do well to leave right now! I don’t want…” “I just want to know how you’re doing!” This time Alice was the one to interrupt her, a little bit more forceful than she had intended. She tried to regain her calm again when she saw Sarah’s indignant expression. “I just want to talk to you. We never had the chance for that when…” She stared at the floor.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You know perfectly fine what I’m talking about! It was no dream Sarah, it was real. And we are the only ones who know it.” Sarah looked away. “I’m doing fine. After 14 long years I’ve gotten over it and I’m doing perfectly fine. Is that what you wanted to hear?” There was an uncomfortable silence. For a moment Alice didn’t know how to respond. Her eyes wandered through the living room. It was a big house. The furniture was obviously expensive and the decorations were suitable for a rich person, Sarah obviously being one of them. But there was something missing. In the room there was no sign of something personal. Not one picture or a souvenir from a far away journey. There was no sign of life in the house except for their presence. It was empty. “Is that all?” Sarah asked impatiently. “Look, I know we don’t know each other that well, Sarah. But we can’t just forget about each other. We have to be there for each other, even now.” “I don’t have to do anything! My life is perfectly fine without you and it has been for 14 years.” Alice looked confidently at her.
“Your life is not fine.”
“Yes, it is.”
“No it’s not. Look at where you are right now. You’re all alone and you’re what, 35?
“32. And how do you know I’m alone? What if I tell you my husband will come home in 20 minutes?” Alice tried to hide her chuckle. She silently hoped that she hadn’t misjudged Sarah.
“Well is he?” Sarah looked away and started blushing a bit.
“Well… No. But you can’t possibly know that! Besides, there’s nothing wrong with being alone!” Alice looked serious again. She looked her straight in the eyes.
“For God’s sake Sarah, it is wrong for you! You deserve more!” She forced a smile on her face. “I remember when I first saw you. It was dark, everyone was depressed and gloomy. I was hungry and even at that age I already felt like giving up on life. Then you were there, the only person laughing. Who on earth would laugh in that situation? You made me laugh. You helped me through it, you protected me with your life. You’re a great person and that’s why you deserve more than what you have now.” Sarah looked up with dry tears in her eyes.
“What do you want to hear from me? You’re right, I’m not okay. Everyday I have nightmares about that day. Whenever I think of what I did I start shaking. I can’t connect with people like I used to… But I don’t need you to remind me of that again! You’re the last person I need right now!” “Well I need you!” Alice screamed. A tear rolled from the corner of her eyes leaving a trail along her cheek. “I have nightmares and I do need you. But apparently you changed. I’ll go then.” Sarah looked surprised when Alice stood up. Her stomach started turning and she forced words to come out of her mouth. “Wait!” Silence. “You’re right.” Another long and meaningful silence. Alice sat down on the sofa without making a sound. “Every time I look in the mirror I feel the same. I can’t bear myself. All those things I did…” Alice put her hand on Sarah’s knee and looked her straight in the eyes. “I never had the chance to thank you. You saved my life that day. You were strong, you showed courage and you kept looking forward. I admired you and for all these years I wanted to be more like you. Thank you.” Sarah quickly looked away. “I had to. You were my reason for living. Without you I’d probably given up.” “But you didn’t.” Sarah showed Alice a hesitant smile. “I didn’t.”
Alice sighed, took a deep breath and looked meaningful at Sarah. “I don’t want to keep it a secret anymore.” Her eyes widened. Before she could respond Alice continued. “I’m going to marry. I love him with all my heart and I just can’t hide it anymore. I kept it a secret until now, because I promised you, but I can’t go on like this. I want you and me both to tell him, because you’re a part of this. You’re an undeniable part of my life, no matter how you look at it.” Sarah’s eyes were focused straight ahead. Her lips were pushed together in a small straight line and moments long it looked as though she didn’t breathe. “No.” Her answer was short and clear. “No. It’s not óur story. It’s mý story. I decide whether we tell it and I say no.” Suddenly Alice got angry. “What do you mean it’s your story? It’s ours! We were in it together, I’m just as much a part of this as you are!”
“No! It’s my secret. It was my father!”
Suddenly there was a silence.
“Your father?” Alice looked surprised.