The Seized

Contributor: Elizabeth Brown

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I couldn’t resist, so we broke the rules. I seduced my wife, and they seized my family.
“We must be cursed,” I said. “It’s the end of us.” In one single moment, my life was teetering downhill, fast, faster— unhinged like a wagon let loose or a bike with no brakes.
“Why do you talk like that, Eliot? We are certainly not cursed.”
“We did it to ourselves and our future generations.” I feigned confidence. Inside I shook with trepidation, sadness—all of it wrapped into one volatile mess. My heart pumped, temples pulsated. Time was short.
“You’re not making sense, Eliot. We have each other, a beautiful baby, food, shelter.”
“We are not free, Mona. Don’t you want your freedom? What good is any of this without freedom? Department of Environmental Factions, DEF, controls us. Don’t you see that?”
She ignored me, kissed my chest, her tongue licking parts that made me forget about freedom. She reached up and put her hand against my mouth. I pushed her away. No, not again. The clock was ticking.
“Let’s do it. Please, Mona. Let’s escape!”
“Just stop, Eliot. You’re scaring me with this kind of talk.”
“I’ve been reading, Mona, I’ve been reading a lot. I found these old magazines from over half a century ago in a box in the attic.”
“Always so full of drama aren’t you? What do you want me to say, Eliot? It’s the past, gone. We have to think of the present. How can you be so foolish? How dare you risk our lives?”
“What lives? What about democracy and freedom? We have no life, no liberty here. We are prisoners. What we just did—it’s the end of us, Mona. Don’t you know that? DEF holds unlimited power; they can seize you at any moment.”
“Stop, Eliot. Stop, please. There’s no point to it. Others have gotten away with it. We’ll be fine.”
“We are not fine. We need to get out of here now, Mona.”
“Are you sure? Maybe you want us to be caught like Shirley’s husband. Maybe that’s it. She knew. She told me he was going to get rid of her. He made sure the devices were on and she was gone the next morning. How convenient. How convenient for all you bored husbands. Now he’s got himself a new wife, ten years his junior. She sank down into the bed, covered her face in her hands. “Help me, Eliot. I feel ill. Is it worth it? Is she worth it? I thought you loved us.”
I loathed the sight of my wife. She was brainwashed; she would never get it. She was the new society, weakened, subjugated, ruled by fear--it knocked us out; we lost our minds, teetered on the edge of insanity.
Not me. Not anymore. I slipped out my shell, had an epiphany. I caught a glimpse in the attic, in the books and magazines. I wanted more.
Ten years since Esther, the big one, the storm that altered our world. The moon, the one constant, cast a blue pall over our bodies.
“What have we done? I love you, Jesus, I love you.” Mona, her nakedness, her breath, finger tips up and down my arm. Elise stirred and whimpered in the bassinet.
“Sh. I love you, too, Eliot. We love each other. That’s all. How could that be a crime? I think you want to leave me. I think you’re tired of me. I don’t know anymore. I can’t trust anyone, not even my husband.”
“We made love, Mona. That’s okay in a normal world. We don’t live in a normal world. They can see us right now. DEF—they are outside the window and on the ceiling and in the fucking walls! Believe me. For God’s sake, Mona, they’re going to seize you and our baby. I don’t know when.” I was sobbing, a pitiful animal. The truth stuck like knives in my chest. She stared at me, blankly—eyes like black dots, unaffected, programmed. Her complexion was ghostly, ashen, her aura a flimsy veil of misty coral—morose, displaced.
“You’re lying. It’s a ploy. You don’t want me anymore. Just say it, damn you. Just tell me the truth, for once. Don’t do this to me, Eliot. Don’t do this to your baby. It makes no sense, no sense at all. You’re a viper—a monster, to do this to your wife and baby.”
She was in a deep, dark denial. She’d never get it until she was seized and our baby was ripped out of her arms. And then it would be too late. I couldn’t reach her—so many were unreachable. Maybe DEF was tainting the food or water supply. Maybe we were all being poisoned.
“Mona, it is a crime. You know it. I know it. Passion is a crime.”
A siren sounded outside. Mona froze.
“What now?” I felt my pulse quicken, my throat tighten. This was it. “What do we do now, Mona?”
“Sh. Keep your voice down. You’ve done it this time. Go ahead. Go to your bitch. I feed Elise, that’s what I do. I’m her mother.”
I watched her pull away, reach for the baby. Her long sleek body stretched across the bed like a sun spreading over the horizon. And it hit me like a rogue wave, pulling me down to the deepest, darkest region, the stygian depths. I gasped, panicked, grabbed her arm like a drowning swimmer, pressed her into me. “I’m sorry, Mona. I’m so sorry.” My voice cracked, pained, broken. I wanted air, death.
Mona cradled my head with one arm and held Elise to her breast with the other. “Please don’t leave me, Eliot.”
I swore I’d never fall asleep. I swore it.
I woke to an empty bed. The last thing I remember was the sound of Elise’s suckling.
They did it— drugged me so I slept.
That’s how they did it.

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Elizabeth Brown is a native of Connecticut. Her short fiction is published or forthcoming in BareBack Magazine, Empty Sink Publishing, TreeHouse, Bartleby Snopes, Contraposition, and Sleet Magazine's spring edition (2014). She studied writing at the University of Connecticut under Wally Lamb and Joan Joffe Hall and is a two time recipient of the1997 and 1998 Jennie Hackman Memorial Award for Short Fiction.
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