Her red fingernails taunted me. The fiery polished surface reflected the blinding white lights with ease as she flicked the paper across the desk. “Sign the bottom.” Her lips parted to reveal artificially whitened teeth. “As long as you fulfill the designated work hours, we will provide the necessary medical attention for your darling little boy.”
“His name is Jonas.” My finger twitched as I skimmed over the paper. There tiny words blurred together. “I-I don’t want to sign anything yet.”
“Then you’re wasting my time and yours…Mrs-?”
“Gallevon. Jolene Gallevon. I was told that I didn’t have to sign anything today. This was just an interview.”
“True, but Jolene, interviews take time and time is money.” The fingernails caressed the golden plaque that boasted her title. “Tell you what-go ahead and sign. You can take your copy home, read it, examine it and we’ll contact you.”
“How?” I took the proffered pen.
“When the phone rings, simply say yes or no.” She snatched up the signed sheet and ripped off the bottom copy. It was dropped in my lap along with a tiny, silver cell phone, as she moved to the door. “Good day, Mrs. Gallevon.”
My feet obeyed her veiled command and I was standing outside in the lobby before the rest of my wits caught up. The telltale pink paper seemed to attract the accusing stares I’d tried to hide from. I stuffed it inside one coat pocket and turned up the collar before dashing out into the snow.
Those folk didn’t know anything about me or what the pink paper could bring. I applied to Mega Corp for the sake of my only child. The Sickness was slowly killing him. I couldn’t afford the healing treatments.
It needed more credits than a regular job would supply. The job that paid enough, required knowledge I’d vowed to forget. I twisted the energy ring on my finger.
Dear God, please, I can’t lose my baby…I can’t break this promise!
The swirling whiteness comforted me, as I stopped at the street vendor to purchase a few hot rolls with the meager credits that remained. The warm scent teased unmercifully until I stood in front of the shabby apartment door. The stench of liquor and smoke greeted me as I entered, the rolls safely hidden inside my coat.
Jeers and yells assaulted my ears as I pushed past the drunken slobs that cluttered the floor. My bedroom was the only door with a lock. The satisfying click of the bolt was a reminder of some semblance of safety within this darkened hole.
Soft moans came from the shadowed bed as I wrestled out of my coat and draped it over the bedside chair. “Jonas, baby? How are you?” I tugged the sheets away from his trembling body and feathered a hand across his forehead.
Fresh sobs wracked his body, my tears mixing with his as I gathered him in my arms, rocking back and forth.
When the tears subsided, his stomach growled. We shared the rolls, two apiece, as I told him about the interview and the job.
He shook his curly head, telltale tears leaking out. “Can’t.” He whispered. “ You promised.”
“I know, baby, I know.” My right hand clenched into a fist, the jeweled ring digging into my thigh. “But I can’t lose you. You’re all I’ve got left.”
I’d promised I’d never use my energy ring to open portals to other worlds again, yet that was the only position Mega Corp offered.
Another cry left his lips and I bit my lip, drawing blood. There weren’t any painkillers left. He'd used them up last night.
“It’s okay.” He coughed. “Not alone.”
I looked away so he wouldn’t see my eyes. A promise compared to a life? Who could choose between these two?
The phone rang as he tugged at my fist, uncurling the fingers to play with the ring. The ringing echoed in the room as I held the silver square, the answers fought between my heart and my head.
I pressed the green button. “Hello?” I squeezed his hand reassuringly. “Yes...I’ve decided…I would-” His hand grew slack. I turned in time to see his eyes close.
Goosebumps crept over my skin as the phone clattered to the floor. My tears splashed on his face, as I stretched one trembling hand over his heart.
Oh Dear God, no!
The Sickness is an unidentified virus that causes the victim to be in continual pain and hyper-sensitive to feelings.
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