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Seven Deadly Sins
Meg silently turns the lock and we creep down the hallway in our socks, as to not make noise. We slide into the front seat she slowly drives away. The road is vast and desolate. No one is on the road this late besides an occasional patrol car. Without having to ask, Meg rolls down my window. I lay my arm on the car door and my head on my hand. The most exhilarating feeling, I think, is crisp rush of air. Like a slap to the face.
“How was your day?” I ask.
Meg shrugs, “Fine.”
She is nervous, I can tell. I know superficial small talk will only make it worse. Her white knuckles grasp the wheel, her head is straight and her eyes lock in on the unpaved country road. She always quiet and irritable when we do something like this. I understand though, I do. It’s not her fault. Her sister was taken around five years ago. I've known Meg for three years and I’ve never heard her talk about it. Whenever someone brings it up her spine straightens and her fists ball up. Her lips tighten. She doesn’t talk for the next couple hours.
She’s still in custody, for the next five years, I think. Meg’s friend once told me that it was because she cheated on a test. It was around the time when it started. The changes were spread out over years, to help us become adjusted to it. No matter how long you prolong it, it will never seem subtle. Some people have moved past it, even taken advantage of it. Started working for the government. I might’ve, the money you get from that is insane. Others handled it differently, or not at all. I mean, suicide rates went skyrocketing. One of my childhood friends won’t leave his house. Smart but not practical, I guess.
The car lurched to a stop in front of Noah’s humble home. The sky was a singular shade of dark gray, the stars were absent. When I was younger my dad would take me out to the country side and we would sit in his pick-up and watch all the stars twinkle like it was a movie. My eyes travel upwards and the only lights visible are satellite surveillance. We step out of the grumbling car and I could feel a friendly gust of wind. It was a calm 60 degrees, the kind of weather where you’re not hot nor cold, but a slight breeze sends a small shiver through you. I close the door to the 2004 Ford Freestar, a burgundy minivan passed on from Meg’s father. Looking down the street I can see all the homes illuminated by light. Friends eating dinner, some watching TV, others working. I wonder what they ate for lunch that day, if they had a long day of work, maybe they just heard really good news, or really bad news. Looking into Noah’s house, I could see his slender body spread across his armchair he found in the alleyway, with a book in hand and one leg crossed over the other.
I saw Meg take a deep breath and plaster on a artificial smile. We made our way inside careful not to disturb the others on the block. It’s quite frowned upon to travel after 8 p.m.. It’s not illegal yet, but it probably will be soon. It’s hard to know who’s for the government and who’s not. Noah’s street was primarily careless college students, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. I avoid the doorbell and instead reach for the key hidden behind the wilting zinnias. Noah hears the lock untangle itself and puts away his book to come greet us at the door. He shuts the door cautiously and beckons for us to come inside.
“Did you guys find the key alright?”
“One sec, I’ll be right back” Noah smirks and moves to the kitchen. He came back with a case of Cokes. The cardboard packaging was a matte red with glossy white cursive lettering. I felt homesick. I hadn’t seen one since fourth grade.
“Noah!” Meg yelled and jumped out of her chair.
Noah held his index finger to her mouth to quiet her. She sunk back into the chair but her eyebrow furrowed. She tucked her hair behind her ears and folded her arms in her lap. He was making her angry.
Stores don't sell anything over a single can of soda. It’s considered gluttony to drink over one can.
Noah chuckles. “I found a guy. He’s in one of my classes. Take some”
I grab one while Noah finds the remote. “What channel do you wanna watch?” He scrolls through the stations; Channel 5 News, Channel 6 News, Channel 7 News.
“One please,” I said, sarcastically. Channel 1 was run by the federal government with large amounts of propaganda and tedious reprimands and reminders. It was so horrible that it was funny and we liked to do impersonations of the newscasters.
A bothersome jingle fills the room for some new alarm clock that was supposed to be able to wake lazy sleepers up and prevent them from dozing past 8 a.m. wake up time. A tidy woman with a red pencil dress and brushed black dark hair came on the screen and began to list the arrests in our area. A man detained for flipping off a driver in front of him, wrath can get you up to a decade in prison. A woman arrested for arriving late to class. Sloth. A coworker eating someone else's food from the company fridge. Greed.
Suddenly, Noah made a abrupt gesture to the screen.
“Jesus. That’s the guys that gave me the soda.” There was live footage of a man with a graying beard being handcuffed at the campus library.
The sound of harsh sirens invades the air. We all watch the TV in silence. Meg had her hand over her mouth and Noah sat entirely still. The sirens grew closer and closer. The footage on the television changes to a video of Noah’s home. The exterior was lit by red and blue flashing lights, and police storming towards the door. Noah stood slowly and backed towards the wall as if there was a wild animal across the room. No one said a word.
A jarring knock came from the front door, and then kicking. The next moment felt like it was from a third-person view. Like I was never in the room at all.
A swarm of uniformed law enforcement took Noah, cuffed him and dragged him out the house. As simple as that, he was gone.
I rolled over. The sun was shining it’s light on the crinkled sheets and Meg’s flat pillow.
She was already gone. The sunlight revealed a post-it:
See you later. Be safe.
Megs hand writing was proper. Like my grandma’s. Beautiful loops, even letters, flowing cursive. It looks like art.
I forced myself into an upright position, ignoring my throbbing head. I made my way into the kitchen, dirty dishes and leftovers from last night scattered across the counter. It was already 9 in the morning. That must’ve meant Meg left hours ago. I overslept.
I just stood there for a bit. Too tired to make breakfast, but too awake to go back to bed. My feet melted into the floor and my body was stiff.
I saw Noah.
I saw only his eyes.
Maybe green, maybe brown. A gradient of earthy tones. Thick eyelashes. The corners of his eyes turned upwards, the way they did when he laughed at his own jokes.
They closed, and vanished into miniscule particles of dust.
I’ve been seeing him lately. Only for a few seconds. Fleeting.
Of course he wasn’t really there. He’s been in prison for the last six months. I went to see him every week the first few months. He always tried to crack jokes but I could see it was different. He looked worn. His hair was overgrown, hollowed eyes, he stopped taking care of himself.
I stopped visiting about two months ago. I felt bad, really bad. But, I couldn’t make eye contact with him. It took a while to respond to him, my brain was so scrambled. I know it was wrong. Meg told me enough times.
“It’s not about you. You know that right? If you were in his place, you would want visitors. Wouldn’t you? You’re selfish. You are being selfish.”
Even Meg was different. She was irritable. She was irrational. Always paranoid. I still loved her. I had to love her insanity. It wasn’t going to go away.
III: NATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS INVESTIGATION
*Line 76* ... “Guess what he did. GUESS!.... I know right… he’s such a--”
*Line 77* … “Yes Mom. Yes. I know. I will. Love you. Bye. Yes. See you later. Bye”
*Line 78* … “Sorry. Achoo! Oh god. I’m so sorry. I can’t make it into work today, it wont happen again I promise. I think its some sort of bug. Thanks for your--”
“LINE SEVENTY-EIGHT! SLOTH!”
*Line 79* … “milk, eggs… turkey from the deli… oh, um… Yes! It was the orange juice. Thats the last thing that I needed. Thanks.”
*Line 80* … “Please don’t tell them. What do you want? Please, I’ll give it to you. I’m getting my paycheck on Friday. Just give me a few more days … Okay, bye. Thank you.”
“LINE EIGHTY IS SUSPICIOUS! SOMEONE GET ON IT OR SOMETHING.”
I don't know why Ezra didn’t react the same way I did. I mean, he knew Noah longer, they met a decade before I knew them. I didn’t talk for a whole week. It wasn’t that I couldn’t, I just didn’t want to. I slept a lot too that week, like 14 hours a night. I don’t remember what I did the remaining ten hours of the day. I was mad at myself too, I still am. Everyone has gone through this and they continue on with their life. I was immobilized.
The whole situation my relationship with Ezra. I’m always mad at him and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want to be around me anymore. Neither of us is going to leave each other though, we can’t. There is no one else to trust but each other. Except I don’t even trust him anymore.
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