This week’s prompt words are:
‘I do’ :: crockery :: surreal :: torch :: capsule
“Do you understand these terms as I’ve explained them to you?”
Behind him she put the crockery away, while the fire crackled in the small fireplace. He searched my face for confirmation and seemed to find me satisfactory. I swallowed when he looked away. I could do this. I could do this.
The evening had been one leap of faith after another. Meet the contact in the coffee bar. Follow him to this house, to this room, where he made me repeat the message over and over under it was word perfect. His wife filled me with over strong tea, compensating for the lack of food.
I thought again about the message. It was a random stream of English words that I didn’t understand but could repeat phonetically if I heard the catchphrase. I had one hour to meet with the other side. After an hour and a half the guards would come around that part of the underground canal again. If I was caught, I wouldn’t even be able to answer questions, just look like a bumbling tourist.
It turned nine o’clock. I left the house and walked quietly to the marketplace. When there was no one around I went down the stone steps into the darkness. There, just where they said it would be, was the torch I could carry along the way (if I had been stopped with it on me I would have been picked up). I followed the path exactly as described, my heart beating. I’m not afraid, I told myself. I’m not. I’m not.
At the spot he was waiting. He was scared, sweating. He hissed at me: “You’re late!” But this wasn’t the code word. I didn’t say anything to him, just stood looking at him. My hands were in my pockets, and I held the capsule in my fist. A moment, and it would be over. A moment, and I’d be over. What was he going to say? What would happen? I said nothing, just waited.
He gave the password. Time started again. I felt my shoulders relax, felt myself breathe, and gave the response.
In a moment, the message was given. We went our separate ways. By eleven I was at home, safe. Getting ready for my classes the next day. The capsules were on my bedside table, next to my reading glasses. I looked at them and thought, “My life is surreal.”