“Who are you actually?” I asked.
“I’m sorry, I should have told you that. I am Max.”
“I don’t know you. What am I doing here? What do you want from me?”
With his hand he reached out to touch me, but I receded, panicking.
“Alice, please, stay calm.”
The door. Close enough. I turned around and ran. Pulled the door open. Ran further. A living room. A kitchen. Another door. I must reach it! I have to get away!
But before I even succeeded in reaching the kitchen, his arms had already caught me and I couldn’t move anymore. He was strong, way too strong for me, especially now. I saw the door, I saw my escape, right there in front of me. So close…
“Alice, please”, he whispered. “I won’t harm you. I promised you that. But you won’t get away.”
If courage is like a soul, it slipped away at that moment. Nothing was left. Soul nor courage. I felt it leaving my body and the feeling of being locked up forever filled the empty space. There was nothing to keep me alive anymore at that moment. There was nothing to keep me up right.
I closed my eyes and let go of all hope.
I must have fainted. When I opened my eyes again, I was lying on the couch. Above me there was a white ceiling. Everything was white here – why? To prove me that I wasn’t in hell? Impossible to believe. As soon as I realized I was awake, I moaned and wished I would fall asleep again. I wanted to faint forever.
“How are you feeling?” His worried face again, his voice light as always. He handed me a glass of water. He kidnapped me.
I didn’t answer. What could I have said? Give me a gun and I shoot myself. Give me a knife and I cut my throat. Give me a rope.
“It is normal to not feel well. It’s the after-effect of the medicine probably.”
My throat was suddenly squeezed.
“Medicine?” I said painfully. “You drugged me.”
“Sometimes, you have to force people.”
He must have seen the disgusted look on my face, ’cause he stretched out his hand, touched my cheek and said: “Alice, I’m sorry!”
“Then why…?” I could not finish the sentence, all sense of speaking had just disappeared. I told myself not to cry. I promised myself never to cry in front of him. Never I’d give in like that.
But at the same time, I felt like I had no energy to do that. I even doubted if I had the energy to keep breathing. What for?
“I hope that in time, you will see why.”
He did another attempt to comfort me by touching my hand, but I pulled it back and looked the other way.
It lasted like this for days. I don’t know how long it took before I didn’t feel like throwing up the entire time anymore. He was ever present, always asking if I needed something, always bringing food and water and trying to be as kind as possible. Sometimes, my mind just didn’t accept that he could have been the one kidnapping me. I was ever restless, in fear, waiting to be killed, and sometimes, I even gave up fearing. Being reduced to a breathe is hard to take.
But after a few days like that one, I decided that it was time again to grab myself together and take a shower. Once more, I felt like I had more energy. When Max entered, after knocking on the door as always, I finally talked to him.
“I’m feeling slightly better”, was what I said.
“Glad to hear that”, he responded, looking really happier. “Want anything else?”
“This will do.” It was still impossible to talk to him as if we weren’t forced to live with each other, but still, I was talking. Somehow I felt less alone. Just a bit.
With a lot of effort, I ate and drank without getting scared of the thought that it could be poisoned.
“I’m sorry that I’ve scared you, Alice”, Max said. A bright-eyed look straight at me. I looked back. The only human being I would see for the rest of my life. Right in front of me.
We share a universe.
I believed that somehow he was right. My world had shrunk until it had the size of this house. The only one living there too, was he. If I wouldn’t talk to him, if I wouldn’t trust him, I’d be completely alone. That was even more frightening. So I started to trust him. I started to trust the one I shouldn’t trust. But all I could think of was surviving, and if trusting was needed, then so be it.
He showed me the house. It wasn’t quite big, only one floor, but with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a garden, surrounded by a fence. Apparently, we lived in a silent, far away place where no one would find us. We were cut off the world. He saw my face when he said that. Sad, probably. More likely, desperate. He tried to comfort me by saying how I’d get everything I wanted, how we had everything needed, and then he proudly showed me the library. It was sky-high filled with books and CDs, even all books and CDs I had at home too. It was overwhelming. I was all silent.
A few days passed and I got bored. I didn’t dare to go to the library, nor to really talk to him. I was afraid I’d start to forgive him, which I wouldn’t forgive myself. But the days grew longer every time and sitting on my bed was even more depressing… When he made dinner, I came to the kitchen to eat it together with him. He was so glad I started to act normal, but he never forced me to something. Mostly, he just let me be. I was the one searching for contact and words and another human face, while telling myself that you have to know your enemy. But would the enemy speak the way he spoke? So casual and almost light-minded? He seemed to act like everything was normal.
And yet, one night, I could not sleep, once more, and I didn’t want to wait for it to come. I left my bed, pushed my door open as silently as I could and then there was another door.
The door to his bedroom. It was right in front of me. I opened it carefully, and there he was.
Sleeping. Vulnerable. If I’d had a knife, I could have stabbed him to death. But I had nothing.
He quickly woke up and saw me.
“Alice? Is something wrong?” He came to me and I stood there paralyzed.
“I can’t sleep.”
He looked at me as if he was trying to find a cause for that (as if it wasn’t clear!), to end up saying: “Do you want to stay here?”
Finally, I spoke the truth. “Yes.”