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She Became Part of the Past
She paid the driver and thanked him as she exited the faded taxi cab. She took a deep breath, glad to be free of the smoke that had saturated the air in the car. The cab peeled from the curb and a cigarette was thrown from the smudged, driver’s side window. The street was unusually silent, and her every heartbeat, the swishing of her dress, her every move seemed to echo off the buildings that lined the empty road. She looked around to the street corner and the sign that read “40th Street.” She looked at the address she had scribbled on the scrap of crumpled paper, and then looked down the street at her destination. She walked, heels clapping on the sidewalk, covered in an inch of filthy water. Absentmindedly, she thought about how the drains must be clogged again. Her ankles were soaked at this point, but she didn’t care. She had other things to think about than soggy shoes. She climbed the cement steps of the Underwood Apartment Building and swiped a pass card she had swiped from the purse of resident of 2B.
She took a shaky breath and crept down the hallway to the stairs. She paused, thinking she had heard something and her foot hung in mid-air, hovering over the first step. Her heart beat wildly; she unconsciously held her breath and listened. She did not know if it was two minutes or twenty that she remained there, suspended in time. She had no sense of time anymore; all she knew was that her time and his time were running out.
The man and the woman used to be coworkers of sorts, friends even. “How did this happen?” she asked herself, but she did not know the answer. She would not forgive him; she would never, ever forgive him.
She stepped out of the shadows after she was sure no one was around. She flashed back to the days when she came up these stairs with a smile on her face. “Why is he doing this to me?” she wondered, and approached the dusty plaque that hung on the last door on the left of the hallway that read 3D. Her shaky hand reached for the rusty doorknob but it swung open before she had turned the knob and revealed the owner of apartment 3D.
“You!” They both said at once, shocked at the sight of the other.
All the anger and hurt she had suffered through for the past few weeks bubbled to the surface. She trembled with rage and her face grew hot. She wanted to scream.
Before she could say anything, however, he announced “I did it. I sent everything to the authorities.”
“You betrayed me! You devised the plan; you were instrumental in carrying it out! How could you do this to me? To the Agency?!” He wore a smug grin that would haunt from that night on.
The man had been a vital part of the planning and execution of the assassination. He had been blackmailing the woman for weeks, threatening to expose her as the culprit in exchange for the top secret, confidential file most sacred to the Agency. She, a high ranking official in the Agency did not even know its contents, but he asked her to steal it from the Agency, the people who had raised her, educated her, and trusted her. She would never do that to her friends, not even if it meant her reputation, her record, even her life. If she was caught by the authorities, she could be sentenced to capital punishment. “What a lying, cheating piece of garbage!” she thought angrily as she devised a plan of action.
“The evidence was all there, the phone calls I recorded, the codes I deciphered and translated, I even exposed your false alibi,” he said proudly. She was ruined.
Loyalty was her most valued characteristic. She had trusted the man, only for him to betray her and everything she lived and worked for.
“There is nothing you can do now,” he spoke quietly, taunting her with that smug attitude she had never liked about him. She could no longer distinguish between him and his many aliases. He picked up his phone and dialed 911.
It’s now or never,” she thought, and slowly pulled out her handgun and watched as his eyes widened and he stammered, “Pl-please, no n-need to be ha-hasty,” and let out a nervous laugh. Seeing him petrified like this made her so happy that she laughed at his pathetic, pitiable figure.
“I’m s-s-sorry,” he said, they made me do it, they—” she trailed off again as she took a step closer to him, hand steady now with renewed confidence. “He is getting what he deserves!” she thought, and she fired.
After she had disposed of the body, she took his credit cards and money. She destroyed his cell phone and the tracking device she had planted in it. She changed into his clothed and looked in the mirror, “This just might work!” she thought excitedly. The woman took his identity. On her way out of the apartment, she found plane tickets, “His getaway plan!” she thought, but corrected herself, “I mean, my getaway plan!” She would leave the country and report to the Agents based there, they would know what to do next.
When the police arrived at the apartment, after neighbors reported a gunshot at 2 o’clock in the morning, it was empty. All they found was six inches of hair, a pile of women’s clothes, and a shattered cell phone lying on the scuffed linoleum. Just like that she had become part of the past, but the other part remained in the present…as the man.