Speculative Fiction

Can You Tell Me Again…

  • “Mum, please tell me that story again, please, please, pretty please?” – Lesley pleaded with her most innocent voice.

Under her breath, Rebecca sighed. She needed a few extra seconds to scramble for an answer in her over-exhausted brain. Even though it has been nine years, she still couldn’t forgive herself for lying to Lesley in the first place. Keeping this burdening secret hidden away from her only daughter was draining Rebecca mentally and physically. Because the more she lied, the more difficult it became to untangle the lie in search of the slightest hint of the truth. The truth was painful and straight from tacky spy novels when it came to Rebecca’s personal story. 

  • “There is nothing new I can add to what you already know, darling,” – she finally replied. Rebecca was wretched of answering the same question time and time again. She didn’t run away, changed her identity, and disappeared from the face of the Earth to keep reliving the painful past. 
  • “Hmm… oh… well ok. Maybe later than,” – said Lesley cheerfully before disappearing into the garden.

Rebecca was relieved that, once again, she bought herself some extra time. Before she was going to be dragged through the same painfully uncomfortable experience again.

When she didn’t have to speak or think about this despicable excuse for a human being, she felt blessed and almost like herself again.

Lesley’s father… Lesley’s father was an undercover police officer, who infiltrated Rebecca’s environmental organisation. She fell for him, head over heels, and she thought he felt the same way, but … it was all just a lie. A lie to get intel on activists from her organisation and other groups she cooperated with. The rodent, she hasn’t spoken his name ever since the moment she found out, had even asked her to marry him. Somehow it slipped his mind that he was already married and had another family in West London, leading comfortable upper-middle-class life,  filled with perks of hyper-consumerism. Of course, the rat never came clean.

Rebecca stumbled upon his “real life” accidentally. It’s funny how life is full of accidental occurrences and happenings. Luckily her “discovery and reality check” happened before Lesley was born.

Rebecca was already quite far in her pregnancy when, while thrifting in one of the charity shops in Richmond, she saw “him” through the shop’s window, leaving a restaurant with a woman and two kids. At first, she wanted to go out and introduce herself, thinking that it must have been his sister, of whom he spoke a lot, and even carried a photo of her and the kids in his wallet.

Rebecca found his attachment to his sister a tad creepy because, you know… it was his sister. But at the same time, his commitment and devotion to her was somehow charming and disarming. And a BIG, FAT LIE, of course.   

She was just about to walk out of the door when the rat kissed the woman he was with. It wasn’t one of those pecks on a cheek you would give your sister but a full-on French action. Rebecca stopped herself from walking out and quickly disappeared amongst the clothing rags in fear that he would see her. She was scared that the rat was going to see her! How stupid! She did nothing wrong but instantly blamed herself for the whole situation.

From that moment onwards, she knew exactly what had happened. Like so many of her friends before her, she became a victim of the system of repression, which was determined to punish women because they dared to stand up to it and point to the broken bits of that system.

Her hunch was confirmed when her team found well-encrypted files, full of information about their organisation and many members from other environmental groups, organisations and strikes on his computer.

That night, while her team went through his computer to find out who he really was, was the last time she ever saw him, and that was the longest and the most terrifying night in her life. She didn’t sleep a wink and was petrified to move.

Luckily with the help of her friends, Rebecca packed up all her few belongings gathered randomly in her tiny flat. And the following day, she was on her way to Spain, ready to have her baby before secretly relocating to New Zealand. She wanted to be as far away from the UK and the rat as she possibly could.

At times she wonders what his end goal was? Apart from seducing her and getting her pregnant, did he want to threaten to take her baby away and put it through the system, never to be found again if she wasn’t willing to cooperate? The system has been known to use many “unconventional” methods to put women in their rightful place. A dark place of fear and disempowerment. If, by any chance, the women dared to dream greatly. It’s stunning how terrified of empowered women the patriarchal society became.

They say that time heals wounds, but hers are still as deep as they were on the day, she found out about his crime against her, and the misuse of power directed at those fighting for a cleaner and less corrupt future for the whole of humanity.

Until this day, she is unable to build a relationship with anyone. Not that she doesn’t have offers. She simply doesn’t trust other people or their pure intentions. She always looks for alternative motives, lurking behind the exteriors. Sometimes even the casual sex is too much to handle.

Besides, explaining to your new partner that you needed to run away from the father of your child and change your identity before your daughter was even born, so she would never find out who her father was could be a bit too much to handle for most.

Rebecca gave up a lot, or rather a lot was taken away from her, without her consent. The rat took not only her trust but also her life’s work away from her. She still works in the environmental field but stays out of the media, controversial subjects and only offers support during the development of projects, never allowing herself to be known or taking any credit for her accomplishments. Luckily, he didn’t take her livelihood away from her, but not every woman, that accidentally got involved with a rodent, was as “lucky” as she was.

Rebecca left so quickly, so quietly, that she didn’t even have the time or the energy to plan beautiful revenge to stop him from doing the same to other women. Fortunately, other activists blew his cover. Of course, he could have easily been relocated abroad and infiltrated other organisations. That kind of people never stop. According to Rebecca’s friends, the rat was pretty distraught when he couldn’t find her or any information about her once she crossed the EU border. He couldn’t trace her because the UK decided to stop the border co-operation with the EU. One of the disadvantages of wanting to be a sole empire in the global world is standing alone, most of the time.

Keeping some of her family secrets private from him turned out to be a good move, saving her from further suffering and abuse. Her family was a rock when her seemingly happy life crumbled in front of her eyes.

Over the years, Rebecca got smarter and sophisticated enough to keep her intel on him, just in case he was nearing too close to her home turf.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t that sophisticated when Lesley asked about him. Foolishly, instead of telling her the truth or at least partial truth, she made the rat look like a saint, and there is no way of getting out of this “fake” story unhurt. She has no choice but to stick to the lie and let the truth die with her.