His Captive

By: Cassandra Dee

So. Not. True.

“You’re such a lump on a log that you don’t get it,” she snaps furiously. “So what if this is unconventional? We’re in love and getting married, full stop. You’re so critical all the time, can’t you be happy for once?”

The acid hits me in the face, making me flinch, but I maintain my calm on the outside. Inside, I want to crumple because maybe, just maybe, she’s right. Words fly in a fury from her mouth now, each one like a stinging slap to the face.

“That’s exactly why no one asks you out. You’re too boring and by the book. So what the hell could you possibly tell me about love?”

My soul deflates, but I can’t let her know. I can’t let my sister know how much she’s hurt me, so I look down at my watch, eyes blurring with tears. Is she right? Am I really a boring-ass old lady, already dead by the ripe old age of twenty? I swallow hard, still not looking up, before taking another deep breath.

“Fine, it’s fine,” I say, keeping my voice calm. “We’ll talk about it when I get back okay? I have to work, but we’ll talk about it after work later tonight.”

Ann-Marie doesn’t even look at me, turning away haughtily, nose in the air.

“This is exactly what I mean, Anna. It’s Saturday. Duh. It’s the weekend, and yet you’re working. No wonder no one wants you.”

The words are like a knife to my heart but the truth is, I have to go in. I support us, I pay the rent on the apartment. If the boss says there’s an emergency, I have to show up or lose my job

But there’s no way to explain this to my sister, and besides, she wouldn’t understand.

“We’ll talk again when I get back,” I say once more. “Don’t do anything dumb okay? Just hang tight, we’ll talk when I get back.”

And even though she doesn’t acknowledge me, I know my sister hears. So I step outside, shutting the door quietly. And once I’m about twenty feet away, my feet stop so that I can take a deep breath.

God, what’s going on? My baby sister wants to get married to some dude she just met? I bet she doesn’t even know her supposed fiancé’s real name, not that that would bother her. He could be anyone, he could be a scammer, a criminal, or some dirty old dude who just wants a sex slave.

But there’s nothing I can do about it right now, so taking another deep breath, I start walking. The streets are practically empty and I assume that people in the neighborhood are tucked inside the safety of their homes luxuriating in the laziness of a Saturday morning.

We can’t all be so lucky.

Sucking it up, I grip the strap of my purse tighter and settle in for a walk. Normally, the bus would be my thing, but it only comes once an hour on weekends, so my own two feet it is. Besides, a nice, brisk walk might be just what I need. Any encounter with my sister is crazy and exhausting, and hopefully the stroll will help me get my act together for a long workday ahead.

On the sidewalk, I round the corner and begin trudging north towards Copperstein, Marshall and Leigh. There’s no one around, it’s a Saturday after all, and we don’t exactly live in a safe part of town. On my salary, we’re already barely scraping by as is, so our neighborhood is gritty and grey, the sidewalks crumbling, grass popping out from between cracks in the concrete.

But still, the air is relatively fresh and I take a deep breath, expanding my lungs, trying to shake away Ann-Marie’s issues. I can’t show up at the office already aggravated, it’d be a bad start to the day.

And at that moment, an unfamiliar black car creeps up the street at a slow crawl. The vehicle seems to have appeared from thin air, rounding the corner out of nowhere.

That’s weird. It’s almost like the car is casing me. There’s a dark figure at the wheel, but I can’t see what they look like despite squinting.

Putting my head down, I keep walking and try to focus on something else. The last thing I need is another item on my list of crap.

Maybe the person is just new to the neighborhood and decided to take a ride to learn his or her new surroundings. Maybe they’re lost and are driving aimlessly, trying to find their way back. Whatever it is, I pick up the pace, gripping my purse strap tighter.

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