Lizzie Koch’s Picture Choice: One
Title: Conditional Love
Across from her bed, Kenzie watched the blur of the blades whirring round and round as they obstructed her view to the outside world. She lay still as cool air rolled over her, imagining laying on a beach with a cool sea breeze, soft golden sands between her toes and licking her lips to the taste of salt. It wasn’t hard to visualise even though it seemed a lifetime ago she was lying on a private strip of beach with Tate. A heavy sigh escaped her lips as she looked at the white band around her finger where her ring used to be. They were still married . . . as far as she knew but who knew, really, in this new world where survival was now a day by day occurrence, and marriage a relic. She turned her attention back to the fan, it’s gentle hum soothing, the rotation of the blades almost hypnotic. What else was there to do in a room the size of a box, bare grey walls with only the bed and the fan. Kenzie had no idea of time, how many hours had passed since her capture.
The slide and clunk of the bold made Kenzie sit up. The heavy door swung open and a large man entered. She eyed him, noticing his weapons were holstered. He wasn’t expecting trouble and Kenzie wasn’t going to give the heavily tattooed man mountain any.
“Marshall wants to see you,” he said gruffly.
“Is Marshall going to give me some water?” Kenzie asked bitterly from a dry mouth.
Kenzie left her cell followed by the walking bulk of art, their footsteps echoing through the long, empty hallway to a large lift. It travelled up and stopped with a jolt and the tattooed hand slung back the gate. Kenzie stepped out onto thick carpet. Fresh flowers perfumed the air. It was all from a past life, not belonging in the world Kenzie now knew and it riled her that someone could have so much, so much of something that wasn’t needed when people were dying of thirst, hunger and violence.
The escort stopped outside a set of ornate oak doors, knocked gently and waited before the doors opened. “In you go,” he said. Taking a deep breath, Kenzie entered. “Mr Marshall, Sir, the prisoner, Kenzie.” He then left, firmly closing the doors.
“Kenzie! It’s been a long time. You’re looking good. I take it my guards have treated you well?”
“They haven’t hurt me if that’s what you mean.”
“You must be hungry. I’ve had lunch prepared.”
Kenzie looked over to a table, by a large window, laden with food, wine and jugs of water. “Are you expecting others to join us?”
“No, just us.” He smiled, just as Kenzie had remembered. He looked good; tanned, dressed in a clean, tailored suit, white shirt and shiny, black shoes.
“This would feed an entire camp Tate,” Kenzie said, ignoring his smile and the way her heart flipped.
“I’m sure it would but they’re terrorists and when they give themselves up, I will feed them.”
“I’m from one of those camps. Do you think I’m a terrorist?”
“Sit, eat and we’ll talk.”
Kenzie sat opposite Tate, her husband, now a complete stranger and her enemy and captor. She watched as he filled her glass with champagne then served up fine meats, salads, cheeses and bread before pouring a glass of iced water.
“Tuck in!” Kenzie didn’t need another invitation and gulped down the water, pouring another and finishing it just as quickly. Once her thirst was quenched, she started to eat. She couldn’t remember when she had last eaten a proper meal, sitting at a table. Tate didn’t talk, instead, sipping his water as he watched Kenzie devour her food. Even with her face smothered in grease, she was still beautiful. Tate toyed with his ring.
“You still wear your wedding ring?” Kenzie asked, forgetting her mouthful.
“We are still married. I notice you don’t,” he said in an icy tone.
“It didn’t seem right. We’re on different sides. And you’ve had a bounty on me.”
“It seemed the only way to get to see you, face to face. You’ve been . . . evasive . . . and annoying to be honest.”
“What do you want Tate?”
“I want you to stop your acts against my companies.”
“That will happen if you share what you have. You have all this power, controlling the water supply for money is inhuman.”
“Someone has to control it, why not me? I was in the right place, had the finances, resources. If it wasn’t me, it would be someone far worse. What did you think was going to happen with rising temperatures and sea levels? Water is a commodity now and should be treated with care. Who knows when the next rainfall will be. Who knows when the water will run out?”
Tate got up and walked round the table. He took Kenzie’s hand, raising it to his lips, before leading her out onto the balcony. The air was stifling and Kenzie felt she would be sick, the combination of too much food and the stale air suffocating her. Tate still held her hand. “We were good together you know, Kenzie. Could still be good together.” He reached up a hand, gently sweeping away her hair, gliding down her cheek. “I’ve missed you,” he whispered. His lips met hers; soft, tender and just how she remembered as he wrapped his strong arms around her, pulling her into him.
Momentarily, Kenzie was taken back to better days filled with romance, tenderness and love, before panic, greed and power took over. She pulled back, pushing Tate away.
“You don’t want me? You don’t love me?” His pained expression was the first time Kenzie had seen the true Tate; the humanity in him wasn’t lost.
“I’ve always loved you and always will . . . but it doesn’t mean I like you or what you stand for. I will never agree to what you’re doing Tate. Can’t you see it’s wrong?”
“So you’re saying if I change, if I give up everything, if I share, you’ll come back?”
“Yes, ” she replied without hesitation which surprised her. But she still loved him, somewhere deep inside.
“And I thought love was supposed to be unconditional,” he said full of sarcasm. “Well, here’s my condition.”
“Let me guess, you’re going to kill me if I don’t agree? I don’t care. I’d rather die than spend another second in the company of a monster.”
“Let me finish. If you don’t come back, I’m not going to kill you. . . I’m going to kill them.” He pointed across the balcony where a large group was being marched in; women, children among the men. “They’re terrorists. Caught trespassing. You know the penalty for trespassing.” Kenzie saw the group being lined up and rifles aimed at them. “What’s it going to be?”
“Tate! Please! They were just after water! They’re desperate! They have no money to pay your ridiculous prices! Water isn’t just for the rich! Please, don’t.”
“Only you have the power to stop it Kenzie. You’ll never want for anything, never feel thirsty again.” Her heart ached for the line of people, tears streaked her face as she trembled. Disbelief of what Tate was capable of filled her, confused her. “The clocks ticking, my men are trigger happy as you know.”
She wanted to fight, wanted to hit him, hurt him, even kill him for what he was doing to her, those people, the country.
“Tick . . . tock.”
“And they go free?”
“You have my word Kenzie as your friend, husband, lover.”
The silence was deafening as Kenzie took in his words, looking at the helpless row of people. Tate wanted her back as his wife in every sense of the word. For the lives of innocent people. Her nausea grew again.
“Tick . . . tock.”
“OK! You win! I’ll come back as your wife.”
“Excellent Mrs Marshall.” He lead her in, closing the doors behind them as the air conditioning clicked on, swathing them both in cool, fresh air. “I’ll give you a tour,” he said, draping an arm around her as they walked through the large oak doors, unable to hear his men opening fire.
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I dream of sharing my work with the big wide world one day as a published author. Right now, I share flash fiction with a wonderful community of writers and friends. If you liked this story, then why not visit my blog at http://40somethingundomesticateddevil.blogspot.co.uk/ for more. Thank you. Love Lizzie x