Susan

“This is very good work Susan, you connected really well with these women,”Joe said as he shifted through the pages.

“Thank you sir,”she said smiling gleefully. She had to squeeze her hands real tight to hide her excitement. “The subjects were easy to talk to, and their story of struggle is one that most people can relate to.”

“You mean most country folk,”spoke out Ms. Roseann from the corner of the board room.

Susan sighed. This woman never missed an opportunity to ridicule her in front of everyone. Ms. Roseann was one of the chief editors in the publishing house. She had dedicated her entire youth to her career and thus the reason behind her success. It was also the reason behind her resentment of Susan who had taken on family life and career. Deep down, Susan pitied her boss, realizing that she was too old, too rich and too proud to have a family of her own. Every time things got out of control, Susan comforted herself with the vision of Ms. Roseann old and alone on a rocking chair.

After the articles for publishing were selected, the meeting was adjourned and Susan went back to her desk.

She was happy. It had been four months since her last article was a feature. Maybe if she kept this on, she would end up being a force to reckon with like Ms. Roseann.

She looked at the family photo on her desk. She had no regrets there. George was an amazing husband, their children were well behaved and the ranch was growing bigger each new day.

She loathed farm work. It reminded her of the hard life she had to pass through to get here. As a child, she used to farm her father’s land and the harvest would pay for her fees. While other children were busy picking wild fruit and playing hide and seek, she was either doing farm work or catching up with her studies.

She did not understand how George found a passion for the land. He had inherited six acres of land from his father which he had turned into a farm. He planted fruits and vegetables, and sold them to retailers in local market. 

In as much as she disliked her husband’s job, it had helped pay off her college fee before they were married, it took care of their young family before she had a job, and to date, it still catered for most of their family needs.

Her new job was her chance to make a difference in her family as well. Bit by bit, she had done house shopping, bought family sweaters and little things. Every time she brought something home, George had this proud look on his face, that his wife was finally becoming something, someone and deep down, she thought he loved her more.

The day progressed on fast with pending articles, customer feed back, complaints and research on trending fashion. She worked for a leading fashion magazine and they invested so much time in ensuring they were in trend.

It was six thirty in the evening. Joe called her to his office.

“It was very clever of you writing that article on stay at home moms, you’re doing good Sue,”he said smiling at her.

“Thanks boss, and thank you for the opportunity.”

“No Susan,”he said getting up and walking towards her, “Thank you…”

Joe touched her shoulder and leaned forward to kiss her. She pushed him aside. 

“No…not here,”she whispered walking away. “Someone may see us.”

He laughed and threw a key at her. “I’ll follow shortly,”he said winking at her.

                        **********************************************************

Image

A man and woman were seen in a hotel lobby side by side. They were laughing over a work related joke. 

From the look of things, the two were  overly friendly with each other, and the state of the woman’s hair told a lot.

“Relate to country folk,”she said laughing loudly. “I think Roseann likes you…”

“So why would she take it out on you?”

Susan smiled. “She’s a smart woman, she’s seen the way you look at me.”

They were in the streets now talking about work, about the next feature Susan should do to get to the top again. He offered to drop her home, she insisted on taking a cab.

They stood near the side of an alley, where they could embrace out of the public eye.

“Good bye…”she whispered squeezing his hands. “I’ll miss you.”

He looked from side to side and smiled back at her. “Of course you will.”

Suddenly they heard a weak groan from the dark alley.

“Who’s there?”shouted Joe walking closer to the alley.

A weak groan was heard again. Susan quickly took out a flash light from her hand bag. Joe took it from her, shaking his head, the things women kept in their bags….

As the light illuminated to the alley, they saw a weak, frail body of a girl next to trash can.

“Oh my God…,”gasped Susan as she took out her phone and dialed 911.

 

Anna.

She walked groggily on the road, lifting her backpack once more while wiping a cloud of sweat from her forehead. She looked at her watch. It had been three hours now since she started walking.

She was angry. Angry about where she came from, angry that public transport was so scarce in her home town, that if you missed the nine o’clock bus, you had to wait till the next day. She was angry that baba had to take on a second wife, spend more money educating her step siblings instead of investing on one family like his friends. They would own a car, even a business by now! But no, she had to walk seven kilometers to the next stage so as to board a bus to her new life.

She was to be her aunt’s maid. Her aunt who was due any day. Her aunt who had never been mean to her but always had an air of  superiority around her family because she had made it, while they had not. But she did not mind, being a maid in her aunt’s house was better than living back home where she would not have an ooportunity to grow as she was just a girl in her father’s eyes.

She was ready to start a new life. She knew the clothes she had carried would be brushed off, and she would receive hand me downs, prettier and more expensive than her own. Maybe she would be lucky and catch the eye of one of the sons of auntie’s friends, then she would manage to live the life too. There was hope, it was after all, a new day.

She heard the grumbling of an old engine behind her. And as the car reached her, it slowed down, and the window lowered, revealing a young man, with a straw hat on, an old red shirt, jeans and boots. He was a farmer she gathered.

“Good morning,”she said enthusiastically. “Pretty hot morning for a woman to be walking out alone.”

“It’s necessity, not choice,” she said back in a friendly tone.

“It’s a long stretch to the next town, how about I give you a lift?”

“I really don’t know…”

“C’mon, I promise I’ll be a gentleman,”he said smiling. “I’ll even drop you at the stage.”

Anna looked at the long stretch ahead, it would be better for her if she got there earlier. She removed her backpack and jumped into the car.

His name was George, he was a rice farmer from the town. He lived in the next town, had a wife and two kids. He drove to the village each day to care for his farm, hoping to get better produce each day. His wife was a writer with the local printing press.

He asked her about herself, what she was going to do in the bigger town. He said she looked like a naive country girl, who did not know things. She smiled at this remark, he was a funny guy.

George begun to slow down when they reached an enclosure full of thickets and trees.

“You’re a pretty girl Anna,”he said with a smile stuck on his face.

“Thank you,”she said, unsure of where the conversation was headed.

“Have you ever been with a boy Anna?”

“Excuse me?” she asked mortified.

“Have you had a boy in between your thighs, ever had that melt there, burning for more and more?”

She was scared now. She was in the middle of nowhere, in  car with a man who she did not know. She rushed for the door, but it was locked.

George laughed. “Now Anna, did you really think I would let you in my car and nothing would happen? I thought you country women knew better.”

He had stopped the car now, he was facing her, smiling in an evil sinister way.

“So have you had a man touch you before or will I be your first?”

“Please, please George,”she said with tears trickling down her face. “Don’t do this…”

“You’ll like it honey,”he said moving closed to her. “I’ll treat you real good…”

Anna slapped him, tried to push him away, but he only drew closer. So she hit him where it would hurt the most, she knocked his crotch.

She heard him curse under his breathe. “Now Anna, why did you have to do that?”

She heard herself scream as his fist charged at her face. Then it went dark.

***********************************************************

It was dark and cold. Anna opened her now swollen eyes. She was on the grown, a hard concrete floor. There was a foul smell about her. Looking closer, she could see garbage bins beside her, and a bright light at the far end.

She stood up, feeling frail, weak, sore. Her legs hurt, her face hurt, walking hurt. She remembered George, the drive…

Going into the light, she saw busy streets, happy people minding their business, living their lives.

She was in the city, she was next to the trash, cold and alone.