Five Simple Words (Day 2 - Late Afternoon)

Marisol stepped into the throng of festival goers, thankful in the moment for her short stature. If what Dorian told her was accurate, she knew that the Alliance was just in the opening stages of their investigation. Her military record would be something they’d keep on close file, seeing as she had been an enemy combatant. Despite ther own thoughts, she had to wonder if they might be watching her right now? Trailing her about New Huntsville, keen eyes watchful of every contact, captures snapping black and white images to support whatever narrative they chose when the time came to bring her in.

She’d planned for this moment.

There’d always been a risk that someday, the Alliance’s two-plus-two calculation would paint “four” squarely upon her back. If that moment were ever to arrive, Marisol had devised a scheme for the protection of those she loved. Plan D, her husband had joked. Through her contacts on Santo, she or Paco could give the word to hackers who would completely alter the family’s personal records, from their bank accounts and business dealings down to their personal data. Though it would be impossible to deny her parentage of the three children, the story provided in the altered records, one of divorce and custody awarded prior to the war, would present enough of a smoke screen to hopefully shield her husband and children from more than a passing interest.

Once Plan D was enacted, her history as a post war mother and wife would disappear. The kids all had well rehearsed stories, and Paco had his. Marisol had gone to war over his objections. He’d divorced her, and was awarded total custody. After Unification, she chose to keep her distance. It was, at its’ base, a cruel sounding piece of cover, which played upon Alliance sympathies and effectively painted her as the villain… a mantle she’d wear to misdirect any official retribution. Now, as the diminutive woman worked her way through the merry crowd, she knew that the time had come.

The ‘burner’ cortex reader sought the connection. She’d call the family restaurant. Paco would answer, and they’d play their innocuous sounding game to alert him of her need to speak. Once he’d dismissed the first call, he’d wait by his own “burner” for her actual communication. As she pressed the device to her ear, she could hear the alert tone on his end.

“Estes Diner.” The strange voice jarred her from her musings.

“Excuse me?” she asked.

“This is Estes Diner,” the alien voice replied. “Can I help you, ma’am?”

“I might’ve misdirected,” she apologized. “I was calling for La Cocina Chavez.”

“Right number, miss,” he said, “but the wrong place. Mister Chavez sold out two months ago. I’m Paul Estes, new proprietor.”

“Sold out,” she repeated the words as if never having spoken them before. “Sold out……um……thank you…………..excuse me,” Marisol stammered. “Did Mr. Chavez leave a forwarding address, or a new cortex contact?”

“I’m sorry, miss,” Estes replied. “Never spoke to the man. Handled everything through his lawyer…some woman…”

“Leona Kidjo.”

“That’s it.” She fell silent, knowing that this required action, but her mind, shocked into a blank state as it was, proving incapable of even words. “Can I help with anything else, miss?”

“No,” she answered, her tone subdued. “No, thank you.”

“Come on by and I’ll give you a free burger plate.”

“Thanks……that’s very kind…….bye.” Around her, the noisy street scene and the festival mood faded away to silence. She put a hand upon her jaw. She couldn’t move…she could barely breathe. Paco had enacted Plan D….two months ago. She’d spoken to him since, twice. Call Kidjo, the quiet little voice in her mind fought its’ way through the sudden ice of her thoughts. CALL KIDJO!

“Leona Kidjo.”

“This is Marisol Chavez,” her voice quivered with barely controlled rage. “Where is my husband?”

“I’m sorry,” the attorney replied. “I am not at liberty to disc…”

“WHERE IS MY HUSBAND?!” she screamed into the cortex. For a moment, the nearby celebrants all stopped to stare at the madwoman who crouched over her device. “He has….my….children…”

“I cannot discuss the affairs of my clients,” the attorney replied.

“I’m your client!”

“No, ma’am,” Kidjo said. “I cannot represent both Mr. Chavez and yourself. I can tell you that you do have rights. I’m sending you a referral. Colin Byrne is a fine attorney, and a good man. You should have his information on your cortex now. Contact him. He can help you. He is also storing a chest with some personal effects that Mr. Chavez withheld on your behalf. Goodbye, now.”

Somewhere, in a distant corner of her mind, she could sense the irony. No,
Marisol swept away the doubt, [/i]Plan D has a clear set of… Maria.[/i]



“Mom?” The sudden crack in her daughter’s voice revealed Maria’s anguish.

“What’s happened?” she asked. “Where’s your dad? Your brother and sister?” After a lengthy pause, she demanded “Maria!”

“I can’t tell you!” her oldest daughter replied, revealing to the mother the myriad lifelong tells of her defenses coming up. She was being closed out. “I can’t tell you,” her voice dropped to a near whisper. “I’m not supposed to talk to you…I gotta go.”

“Please, Maria,” The finality was here, born in all its’ weight through the circuit. At her core, she felt the chapter close, as a character who still had words unwritten. Now, she could only beg. “Just tell me….is everyone okay?”


“I love you.”

Please don’t call me anymore.”

Her heart…taken by five simple words.

The connection dropped. Marisol was riveted to the spot. The cortex was still pressed to her ear; she couldn’t will her hand to put it down. Time might have passed…the Beaumonde sun might have crossed the sky, to be obscured by approaching storm clouds. The breeze might have cooled, delivering the rumble of approaching thunder.

Eventually, it was a man in a yellow vest who shook her from the trance. “Excuse me, miss?” he asked. “Are you alright?”

“What?” Marisol looked about, her eyes as hollow as the feeling within her chest. “Oh…..sorry,” she murmured. Just…distracted. Thank you.”

“Better get inside,” the volunteer offered. “Storm’s comin’.”

“Okay.” In silence, the diminutive woman drifted, permitting herself to be nudged along by the teeming crowd. Two months ago. The words played themselves across a mind gone dull with loss. Ahead lay a small park; its’ wrought iron bench offering anchorage. As if in a dream state, she sat upon the bench, one arm draped across its’ back to cradle a child who wouldn’t be there.

The rain came.

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