Saturday, August 22, 2015


A short writing exercise on the theme "Ultimatum"

Which one do you love more?

“You have thirty seconds to decide,” says the man behind me. “Which one do you love more?” In front of us sit my parents, strapped into chairs behind a plexiglas window. His tongue brushes my earlobe.

“Please don’t do this,” I beg.

“It’s up to you, Maria. Which one lives, which one dies? Pick one, or else they both die.”

Within my reach are two buttons. The left button kills Mother, and the right one kills Father. Taking no action kills them both. A timer counts down with large red digits. My head swims, and I am short of breath. This is punishment for my part in the insurrection. My parents despise the regime as much as I do, but they have warned me that resistance is too dangerous.

Father’s lips move. “Me,” he seems to say.

Mother’s lips move. “Me,” she seems to say.

“Fifteen seconds,” the man says.

“Let them go,” I say. “Take me instead.” He ignores my plea.

My parents have done their imperfect best in my seventeen years. Father could be harsh with the palm of his hand; Mother with the lash of her tongue. But they love me, and I them. And we loved my elder brother, whom we watched hang this morning.

“Decisions, decisions.” His hot breath is on my ear. Ten seconds left on the timer. Nine. Eight. Seven. “God hates you, and so do I.”

Six. Five. Four. There is nothing more for me to say. My hands shake, palms sweat. Father and Mother close their eyes.

~~ Idea borrowed from William Styron's Sophie's Choice~~

No comments: