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  • Janya Chadha

Just Like That

As Ava sat alone in the Chinese restaurant on her one day off from work, she could only think of all she had to do the next day. She had to correct 40 English papers, check 80 history projects and start working on the year’s curriculum. “Being a teacher is hard”, Ava thought. Although stressed, she was content as she had just devoured what seemed to be the best meal of her life. All that was left was a fortune cookie. At this tranquil moment, she had no idea of the catastrophe that was to occur. She opened her fortune cookie, expecting something generic, but what she read shook her to her very core. The little piece of paper in the cookie read, “You need to leave this city right now. Your life is in danger, do not say a word. Get up and leave.- love, mom.”

To an average person: this would seem like an amusing prank; to Ava, it was everything but that. She had not heard from her mother in almost ten years. Her mother worked with the secret service agency and led a very mysterious and dangerous life. She was never very close to her mother. Ever since she was a baby: her father brought her up. Her mother would be in another city or another country, living her secretive life. She was a wonderful mother, but she was rarely ever home. That was never a problem for Ava because she grew up seeing her mother three or four times a year. Nobody ever knew what she did when she was on a mission, but we knew that she might not return. Ten years ago, she received the last email from her mother. It informed her that her mother would be leaving the country for a very long time and that no one was authorised to contact her until she contacted them first.

When she looked up from the little piece of paper, not a single soul was in the whole restaurant. All she saw was her mother emerge from the front door, strutting toward her, wearing sunglasses and a perfectly tailored suit.

She sat on the chair in front of Ava and greeted her with a pleasant smile. She seemed calm and asked Ava how she was doing but saw a bewildered look on her face. It was uncertain whether Ava was angry, confused, or just in shock from the previous events. But as Ava began to regain a sense of reality, all she thought was how her mother was so calm in such a spine-chilling situation. Ava wanted to scream and shout and ask her mother where she had been, what all of this meant. Abruptly, a bald, heavily built man entered the restaurant and whispered something into her ear. Her whole demeanour changed as she sat up straight, and the smile on her face faded. She said that they needed to leave right then. Ava refused to budge out of her seat without an explanation.

It is not safe here; your life is in danger is all her mother told her. Something about the way her mother spoke made her feel like she was telling the truth. She got up and out of the restaurant. Parked right in front was a black car with black windows. She got in and was being driven to the airport. This whole situation was unbelievable, but somehow she was doing what her mother told her. Ava was sent onto a plane heading for Chicago and everything fell into place as soon as she stepped onto it. She wrote the same email she received ten years ago from her mother and sent it to her father. And just like that, Ava was never seen again.

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