Friday, May 20, 2011

Chapter 8 - Eve

I tried to ignore the plush feeling of the soft carpet beneath my feet, hurrying along the hallway to Mrs. Isoli’s new room at the Capitol. I’d seen pictures of the old presidential home, The White House, in Washington DC--both before and after pictures. The structure of the Capitol didn’t resemble it at all.  Like it’s protected position in the heart of the country now, the Capitol looked more like a high security prison from the outside. But the luxurious trappings on the inside made one forget the stark vision on the outside. Today I was more comfortable with thinking of it as a prison, and not as a palace.

Mrs. Isoli’s room was dark, thanks to heavy curtains fitted especially for her. I paused at the door to allow my eyes to adjust before advancing into the room with the platter. The deep carpet allowed me to move across the room in silence. I laid the tray down carefully on her bedside table and moved to go.
“Good morning, Eve.” Mrs. Isoli rolled over and pushed her eye mask up.
“Sorry to wake you, Mrs. Isoli.”
“I’ve been awake for hours, dear. I wish I could get up, but my head is really pounding today.” She pushed herself up into sitting position, cringing. Her black hair hung limply at the sides of her face, accentuating the haggard look on her face.
“I’m sure those sirens blaring last night didn’t help. You should really try to go back to sleep.” I straightened out the blankets on her bed.
She reached down and grasped my hand. “You’re really so good, Eve. It’s amazing to me that you can be up so early after such a night. Darion said the intruder was in your room!”
“Oh, have you seen Darion this morning already?” I skipped around her allusion to Micah, hoping I wouldn’t have to lie to her to avoid telling her why my brother broke into the Capitol.
“He came in after the alarm to assure me everything was well and see if I needed anything.”
“I see.” I turned and picked up the tray, moving it toward her. “Can you eat this morning, ma’am?”
“I’ll try.” She moved her arm so I could nestle the tray in her lap.
“I’ll be back in half an hour.” I positioned some pillows around the tray to keep it from falling and stood up. “Ring the bell if you need anything else. I called Dr. Braga. She’s coming to check on your this morning.”
“Oh, Eve,” Mrs. Isoli smiled dimly and clasped my hand again. “You’re such a dear. What would I ever do without you? I’m so lucky Joseph found you. You’ve been a lifesaver in this household.”
This morning, my smile at her praise was stiff instead of pleased. “It’s a pleasure, Mrs. Isoli.” I backed out of the room.
“Good morning, Eve.” Dr. Braga’s voice startled me as I shut  the door.
“Good morning, Dr. Braga. She’s just eating now.”
Dr. Braga nodded. “Wonderful. I’ll pop in and check on her and make sure last night’s alarm didn’t upset her too much.”
“She's expecting you," I said, turning to go.
Dr. Braga gripped my arm, stopping me. "I've seen your brother in the prison, Eve. He'll be okay."
My guard went up. I automatically masked my relief that the guards' high-powered paralyzers hadn't done any lasting damage to Micah. I gazed into her eyes, hoping not to look scared and hoping she wouldn't think I was a rebel like Micah. Were her words a trick to test my loyalty? Would she tell Mr. Isoli if I thanked her for the news?
"Eve?" Dr. Braga's face looked confused. "Did you hear me?" She leaned closer and stared at me imploringly.
And then I understood. She was one of them. Olivia Braga, daughter of the late President Dannah's personal physiscian--a rebel.
I pulled my arm away from her. "I have to make breakfast, Dr. Braga." I walked away, ignoring the twinge of guilt that I couldn't thank her.
When I was alone in the kitchen, my fears attacked. I tried to concentrate on the eggs, toast, and fruit, but irrationality prevailed. Already Mr. Isoli knew I had a brother who was rebel to the core. And I'd always been friendly with Dr. Braga. If he found out about her, would he assume I was a rebel too?
I wasn't like Micah. I couldn't survive on he streets. When I had to take care of him after the government took our parents, I did it on so little because there was nothing else to do. I could make a good life for him now, and the generous salary I earned would enable me to help him achieve much more than garbage man status. I knew people now. I could help him. But he wouldn't let me.
I scraped at the pan of eggs, anger building up in my chest. All of that, any real chance Micah had for success would disappear if Mr. Isoli thought I was a rebel.
"Right on time." Mr. Isoli beamed at me when I brought breakfast into the dining room at 7. "Even after that awful disturbance last night. Excellent."
I smiled stiffly and exited the room without looking at Darion. What would he think of me if he knew it was my brother Mr. Isoli sent to prison?
I waited outside the dining room for Mr. Isoli.
"Yes, Eve?" he asked.
I looked down at the cream colored carpet. "I'd like to see him," I whispered. "May I? Would that compromise you? I only want to try to talk to him; to try and make him see, sir."
He sighed. "I know you mean well, Eve, but the effort seems fruitless."
"Please let me try? He's my brother." I looked up, hoping for sympathy.
He finally nodded and then moved swiftly past me.
I waited until I'd cleaned up after dinner before putting Sarah in charge and taking the evening off to visit Micah.
Darion stood outside the servants' door. I pulled up, surprised. "Darion?"
"I heard you talking to Dad this morning, Eve. Why didn't you tell me the boy they captured last night was your brother?"
I reddened. "He's a rebel."
Darion's expression tightened for a moment. "He's still your brother....Have you ever been to the national prison before?"
I shook my head, the heat in my face intensifying.
"I'd better go with you. I don't know how well you'll stomach what you see."
"Is that really a good idea? I don't want to compromise your dad's position."
Darion ignored me. He took my hand and lead me to the security gate. We walked in silence along the main thoroughfare that ran in front of the Capitol. We caught the last bus of the night to Sun City.
The National Prison rose up as the bus lumbered through the nearly empty streets. We still had to walk four blocks from the closest stop to the entrance. My eyes never strayed from the guard towers and barbed-wire atop he brick fence, just like the Capitol. It was eerie how similar the buildings were.
Once we collected visitor badges and handed over everything except the clothes on our backs, two guards escorted us inside. They took us deep inside the prison. At Darion's suggestion I didn't look too closely at he prisoners we passed. It comforted me a little that Micah's cell was embedded so close to the heart. It would be foolish for him to try to escape, foolish for his friends to attempt a reckless rescue that would surely end with Micah dead.
Voices floated toward us as we approached, both of them familiar. Dr. Braga was with Micah. Did that mean he wasn't as fine as she led me to believe? My heart thumped.
"I don't need the president's help, or yours!" Micah's sneering voice carried over Dr. Braga's soothing tone.
My heart rate slowed. He sounded fine. Just as condescending of anything government as ever.
"For your sister's sake, let me help you, Micah."
"Don't try to threaten me by implicating Eve. It won't work."
Dr. Braga must've heard our approach. She looked up and then laughed softly. "Don't worry, Micah. Everything is going to be fine. Everything."
I looked worriedly over at Darion, wondering if he caught the implications in Dr. Braga's tone. His face remained impassive. Once again I breathed easier and wondered how long I could hold what I knew about Dr. Braga inside.
"I'm ready to go now," Dr. Braga told the guard outside the cell she'd been in with Micah.
"Don’t move," the guard ordered Micah, raising his paralyzer gun while another guard moved to unlock the door for Dr. Braga.
Dr. Braga grimaced, motioning to Micah, laying on a bed in the cell. “His muscles are still recovering from the paralyzers. He couldn’t move if he wanted to.”
The guard didn’t stand down. Dr. Braga shrugged, looking convincingly unconcerned, and stepped through the now open cell. I moved to go inside, but the guard with the paralyzer trained on Micah pushed me back with his other hand. “No visitors inside the cell.”
“But...” I looked at Dr. Braga.
He shook his head. “She’s a doctor.”
Dr. Braga watched the guard swing the door shut. She patted me consolingly on the shoulder. “It was good of you to come, Eve,” she said in a low voice. “I could tell he wanted to see you.”
I just nodded. Dr. Braga looked confused at my attitude, but didn’t comment. She nodded at Darion and moved off down the hall without a guard. It surprised me how much trust the men put in her. If they knew what I did, they wouldn’t have allowed her inside the prison, much less inside Micah’s cell. I swallowed shakily, thinking that with her ability to get inside Micah’s cell, his friends could try and orchestrate something. Something dangerous. I couldn’t let her endanger Micah’s life like that. Or my position. Everything I could do depended on me staying with the Isolis.
“You can talk through the bars,” the guard with the paralyzer lowered his weapon and stepped back.
I glanced at Darion. He smiled encouragingly and moved next to the guard, giving me space to talk to my brother.
I stepped up to the bars, resting my hands against them. Tears came to my eyes, seeing Micah like that, but I forced them back. “Are you okay?” I asked.
“I’ll be fine.”
“I’m sorry about what happened, Micah. I know it’s my fault,” I said in a rush.
Micah rolled his eyes and sighed. “I’m the one that broke into the Capitol, Eve.”
“To get me.”
“Alright, so you have me there. If you’d listened, I might not be here....Might,” he added, sounding reluctant.
“I need you to understand, Micah. I can help you if you let me. I don’t mean to brag about it, but I’m the highest paid housekeeper in the country. I have a lot of money in savings, and my position puts me in the way of meeting important people. You always wanted to be more than a garbage man, Micah. I can help you do that. I told you last night, I can help people where I am, and I mean it.” I gripped the bars, staring hard at my brother. What did I do wrong? How did I bring him to this?
Micah’s face hardened, and his tone matched the cold expression on his face. “Let me guess, if I promise to be good. Give up all this rebel nonsense? Stop trying to be better than this bar-code says I should be?”
I tried to lean closer, pressing my face into the bars. “Do you want to spend the rest of your life here? What good are you doing now?”
Micah pushed himself up into sitting position. The guards’ feet shuffled behind me. With a pained expression on his face, Micah slowly swung his legs off the bed. One stricken step at a time he shuffled across the cell to me. I knew without looking that the guards had raised their paralyzers and trained them on him.
Ignoring them, Micah wrapped a rough hand around mine on the bar. He held his other wrist in front of my face. “I will never accept this. I won’t be one of them. If you’re not okay with that, then leave. And don’t bother coming back.”


  1. Push Eve aside. I'm with Micah! She's being an idiot. If she thought about it, she'd realize that she couldn't just quit her position if she wanted, thus making her a prisoner.

    There's a condition called Stockholm Syndrome where after a long while the captured identifies with their captors, and even sympathizes with them, keeping them bound without ropes and iron bars. Can't wait for her to wake up to this fact. Great chapter.

  2. I have a hard time taking sides. Both brother and sister have valid reasons to act the way they do. But as a reader, I do want them to come to a unity of feeling and belief. It's enough to keep me reading with excitement, and to overlook the typos that spell check won't catch, like "lead' for "led" especially when they're both pronounced the same.