In which Kosi's actions now will have large consequences later, which, much later, will influence a life-changing decision.
How did Hen get out of the house when my father forgot to leave a door unlocked?
She’d make an exasperated sound, then fetch her …?
Fetch her magnet. That was it, a big magnet. I concentrated remembering its shape and size and weight. A cube that filled Hen’s hand, the upper face in her palm. Her fingers and thumb grappled three sides. She’d heft it and swipe a door lock with it, then put it away.
Where would she have hidden it? I didn’t flutter around searching, wasting my energy or air. I let my mind search the places where my father would never think to look. Therefore not the bathroom cabinet, my shelves or Hen’s shelves. Not under my bed.
I checked the boxes by touch. Kneeling by Hen’s bed I dragged them out. The first one was for the emergency food. I felt around in it. Three packets remained. Shoved that box back. The middle box was for Hen’s outdoor clothes when she was with me, her indoor clothes when she wasn’t. I got a lump in my throat stroking her soft old indoor shirt. Shoved that box back under the bed. If I cried, I’d be using up more air than I could afford.
The last box contained my no longer new outdoor gear, which I might as well put on now. The opportunity to leave might come unexpectedly. I undressed and dressed feeling all the hems and seams and pockets in the fetcher clothes again, in case I missed any secrets in the excitement before. So long ago already.
I folded my indoor clothes into the box as best as I could. Not the magnet yet.
Our living room had my desk by the inner wall, and a table and two chairs by the unit’s outer wall, where we ate and played games. A pretend porthole was set into the wall beside the table that I used to delight in programming with outdoor scenes with palm trees.
Back to finding the magnet. I crawled around on my hands and knees to check the undersides of things. I banged my head on the table and then the desk.
I stopped until I had imagined the rooms and the furniture from my blind point of view on the floor. I think I dozed off. All the excitement, I suppose. Plus being hollow in the gut. I shifted to Hen’s bed. My head near the door, my feet on the pillow. I doubted that Hen would be back to rile at me. Only two doors between me and freedom if I left the door between her room and the living room open.
I would’ve slept but for the lump under my shoulder. What the sun did Hen keep in her bed? I ripped apart her carefully tucked in sheets and quilt.
Whatever it was, wasn’t in the bed.
I folded the mattress back onto itself.
Yes! The magnet! It sat half in the depression left by the bed-leg being extended out further because of Hen suddenly deciding one day that she wanted the bed higher.
I laughed. What did Hen tell my father for a reason that she suddenly wanted her bed hoicked up? I remembered his embarrassment having to hold it up, just so, while she crawled half-under it to adjust the screw collar. Ha ha, she bested you, you unnatural father.
Nothing was going to stop me now. I swiped the magnet over the door lock of the door between me and the study. The door swished open. Swiping the door-stop at the top of the track, I set the door on open. Waltzed through, feeling giddy with excitement and hunger. I swiped the door between me and freedom.
Nothing. No go. Zilch. Zero. Nought. The magnet didn’t work on the back door!
I almost threw the cube at the green line outlining the house computer where it was set in the study’s table top. Just in time letting my arm fall without allowing the magnet to fall to the ground. Whenever Hen let me hold the magnet when I was still real young she cupped her hands under it.
After setting the magnet gently on the table top beside the computer, I threw myself into my father’s chair. “Yes, yes, yes! Tra-lah! Lights! Internal doors!”
I danced into the legal house, laughing victoriously. Hardly any furniture remained. Didn’t look smell a house where anyone would be coming home. That sobered me. Breathing didn’t feel so good anymore. Just the dust was left, and the stale places where the heavy furniture had stood.
In the kitchen was a litter bin with the second half of a bag of stale bread cubes in it. My father thought to feed the ducks twice? Perhaps my brother had proven too smart after all. I was hungry enough that I gobbled up a couple of the cubes.
In one of the staff’s rooms I found a shoulder bag with a packet of coffee shots tucked deep in a corner. I added the rest of the duck food back in its plastic bag. My failure to get out preyed on me and quite soon I was back at the desk.
I found a file with the staff’s codes to get in and out. Household security was not my father’s strong point, I decided. Hen’s code was N-G-9A.
N-G-9A? What did that mean when all codes also told where people lived?
I couldn’t wait any longer, had to know if it worked. I punched N-G-9A into the keypad by the exit door. The door slid open! I was out and could order a ride …
Forgot. No credit on my cell. Beg my new friends up top for a ride across? But after that? I had to eat. Fetching could be irregular.
I drooped back into the study. With keystrokes dropped back into the system. Deeper and deeper. The-man-my-father was a lot more careful with his own codes.
According to his credit records, my father had three children. Each child – Daughter, Son, Daughter – had a row of figures assigned to them that were storing varying large amounts, larger than the amount in my father’s own row.
I transferred one hundred credits from his account to my comcell. Enough so it would be easy to misread the new total of 500 as the original total of 600. I deleted his children and all their credit.
Because he acted like he had no children.