Margaret snorted, tired of all that stress, leaned slightly on the chair’s back and there rested for some minutes thoughtful. Abruptly an object attracted her attention. it was a statue, gifted by a friend that, like her, operates for a company with intermediaries in Africa. During one of her business trips, she had discovered that particular product into a market. The object in question was totally carved in the wood with a strange and peculiar shape, like an oyster with inside a little candy, anyway, all extremely stylize and not perfectly understandable. “Strange, very strange” minded Margaret who has never paid attention to it, till that moment, and who was trying to shed light on the form’s significance. Meekly the look passed to square another old object, which like the precedent surged on her huge desk. In this case was a present, given by her mother when she was yet little, one of the first gifts since she had memories. It consisted of a mechanical structure to assemble piece by piece, with pipes, wheels, pulleys, bolts, and lives. “Her mother”, brooded Margaret, “her mother was one of those very strong people who since yet young has decided for her daughter’s future, without minding to consult the latter about; she should have become someone important even if she didn’t know yet who in particular, so all the presents, since then on, had to be in some way cultural and intellectual, not simple in the assembly and obviously not commune to the most of her peers in age. Here it is the reason for that present and the many others successive”. The memories began to surface, as slow stream, and swinging meekly on the chairs, Margaret’s mind gave life to the past figures.
“Margaret comes here, never mind what you are doing, it’s time for your homework!”. The woman that has just pronounced this phrase was tall and slender with something neurotic in the accent. She was located in a large room, full of gadgets and instruments; it could be possible to recognize a telescope on the corner, nearby a tiny skylight window, the place must have been a mansard. The woman yelled yet, this time at more intense frequencies: “Margaret I’m waiting for you, come on!”. From a little manhole at the end of the room, probably communicating with the second floor, appeared a thin figure, with black long hair and black skin. “Here you are Margaret!” said the mother, “come, move” ordered in a peremptory tone. “Yes mum, I’m arriving”, her sight was weak and doubtful as she wanted to say something but had no bravery to do it. The mother resumed speaking: “how many times I have to tell you that when I call, you must come immediately! Very early will be the spelling competition and the preparation is fundamental, at least whether we want to have some chance to win. You are big enough to understand that there are things more important than your games!”. The girl nodded obsequiously to the plethora of ideas and arguments which she didn’t comprehend but that she absorbed like a sponge in a natural but unhealthy way. “Sorry mum, now I’m ready to study”. The girl sat down on a chair and folded onward the desk began to spell something, concentrated in what she was doing. The eyes of the mother followed harshly every single syllable, controlling that nothing wrong crossed through her lips. At a certain moment, Margaret stopped the practice and turned her black inquisitive face toward the parent, then say: “Tomorrow my school friends will go together in the city center, without parents. May I go with them mummy, please?”. The woman didn’t reply, but stiff as a column minded a bit, next, picking up the head, said: “I’m sorry but it’s impossible, not in this situation, with the competition so close to. We should prepare ourselves at best, there’ll be time for your friends! When you’ll be an old and successful woman you’ll understand”.
The knocking door lured the attention of Margaret, making the daydream disappear. “Who is there?” yelled with an almost rabid voice. “Just me, Jennifer. I’m here to show you the report about the Congo affair. “Ow, you’re Jennifer, sorry I didn’t recognize your voice be used as I am to contact you on the phone. Please come into!”. Elegant suit appeared in the room, this time with a dark dress code colder compared to that worn in the Africa deal. Outside the door, it was possible to glimpse a black woman with a lost look, sighting around fearfully as whether she didn’t understand well where she was. A big man was controlling her, thanks also to a pair of handcuffs tied to her wrists. Margaret, who had noticed the woman’s presence outside, through the open door, asked elegant suit whether she was the famous Chanya, of whom she had spoken during the calls. “Yes, she’s her. We are landed just an hour ago, and we came here as soon as possible”. Then, Margaret demanded: “how do you think to proceed about her?”. The other replied with conviction: “probably with an interrogatory and next, we shall see, I was minding keeping her at service. In Africa she was a cleaner, I guess she could make the same here, maybe in our factories”. Margaret nodded and consequently spoke of ulterior questions for around half an hour. At a certain point, the lady approached the other woman slightly, almost posing the lips on her ears, and there said: “Do you know that if you take her to work for us and she meets somebody else could tell things about African Colonies? I don’t have to be the one to remind you that currently the people, our people, believe which no woman lives in Africa except to the inspectors responsible at the control of Colonies and mines extraction. Whether they discover that the situation is different, it’s likely the start of an inquiry against our company. We have corrupted a large number of the Party’s members but not everybody, exist yet the intransigents and in that case, the situation could only degenerate, with disappointment for our society and our investors”. The long speech was finished and the other woman seemed not to have any remarks to do, she just nodded and consequently said: “Sure, I had minded about this eventuality and that’s why I decided to assign her the night shift, without other employees, and with the only chance to encounter some slave of our factories in work uniform. During the day she will sleep in a room apart and the chance of every kind of interference with the outside world will be avoided”. Margaret seemed satisfied and her features relaxed, but deep she wasn’t quite. A woman like her had been used to avoid every tiny risk, even the smallest, obviously a condition like the actual presented too many. However, instantly, she came up with an idea, she could ask the spy sent to investigate the uprisings if she could take an eye on Chanya, making sure she didn’t reveal anything. This thought comforted her, who continued the conversation in a more relaxed way, till the end when they gave themselves farewell. Elegant suit held out the hand toward the other and this latter did the same so that the usual greeting has performed, the two hands joined strictly, forming a fist pointing upward, meantime the women watched themselves intensely. Before leaving definitely, the woman going away said: “I have heard about the fact you’ll go to the mountain this weekend, it’s correct lady Margaret?”. “Correct, I have received an invitation by madame Elizabeth and exactly in three hours I’ll leave”. “Does it means which you will not available at the weekend right?”. “I’m afraid of not, sadly, but I shall be back to work already on Monday”. “You are a perfectionist, never a pause, madame!”. “Without doubts I’m liege to my job, I like that every single stuff must be done in the right way independently by the final result, which is anyway important. But now didn’t delay any longer, you come back to work so that I can prepare myself for the trip”.
Margaret and Elizabeth have just arrived home from the ski resorts. Maria hurried to help Elizabeth who limped because of the fall, hanging up and taking her toward the entry door. She swore without inhibitions against the pain and bad luck, meantime Margaret mentioned a smile, as deeply-deeply she found a bit of pleasure in the friend’s fallen. The waitress asked: “What is happened?”, and Margaret suddenly replied: “Nothing, only a little incident with the ski, quite normal to a sportswoman”. “Quite normal!” shouted rabidly Elizabeth, who almost fell on the ground because of the gesture’s energy, “I’m suffering Margaret if you haven’t noticed it!”. “It was just to say, calm down”, uttered her searching to chill the vibes. Maria in the meantime have transported the Lady inside and was helping her to settle on the sofa. Nearby stood out majestically the big glass window overlooking on the beautiful landscape, the sky was yet clean and limpid, but a series of threatening grey clouds were approaching inexorably.
When everything was settled down and Elizabeth was resting laying on the sofa, Margaret approached her. She looked around, as to control that Maria wasn’t nearby and Elizabeth anticipated what she was beginning to say: “you want to talk to me about the problems of which you had mentioned on the ski resort, right?”. “Right”, said relieved her, “as I was anticipating to you the situation matter of fact is not resolved. The uprising was continuing to happen and seem that someone, we don’t know yet who, was distributing revolutionary leaflets to the slaves. Naturally, the detective whom I charged to investigate was continuing to send us data, but for the moment it’s impossible to discover the origin of the instigations”. Elizabeth was hearing every single word carefully and was tempting to keep calm, her eyes closed for a second and when reopened her mouth uttered: “Well, this is not a good point, above all when we are so close to the end of the years, and we shall address all our proceedings to the Party, at any rate, the only solution available is that to face up the situation more quickly possible and to solve it”. Margaret’s face frowned, “It’s not ended yet”. “What else!?” replied the other irritated. “The specialist committed to the African’s affair is backed…”. “Then?”. “She has caught with her a woman, I guess her name was Chanya, and…”. Elisabet interrupted with a scandalize voice: “do you know what would happen if the people become aware of the fact that in Africa there are women, besides the employee charged to the administration of Colonies and Mines!? Catching a woman! She has become mad!”. She was furious, anyway Margaret succeed to take the word and talked back: “It’s all under control, she has organized so that she couldn’t have possibilities to rely on with anybody. The reason she took the woman is that she had been captured to spy and said to be one of us, meaning part of occidental’s crew. Our specialist was intrigued by the explanation and the risks she had taken, and had thought could be something underneath, valid to investigate”. “Please, please”, said Elizabeth, “don’t continue. Do you know the rule, yours the responsibility, yours the guilt if something goes wrong”. “Yes, Elizabeth, I know it well!”.
Maria was in the kitchen intent on piling plates and taking out cutlery from the dishwasher. Her task was to prepare the table for the dinner and tidy up adequately the cooking area. When finally finished it, she, as a conditional reflex, pulled out from the pocket her smartphone. Then, she used the screen as a mirror, helping herself with it to put hair back in place, because during the effort they had messed up. The look fell down to the belly, she seemed immediately to have put on too much weight in the last period, maybe it was a good thing to endeavor for going running sometimes, to back in fit. The ladies usually did it and she thought it wouldn’t have been extremely inconvenient whether a simple waitress had joined them. Yes, she would ask as soon as possible. She was yet minding to those things when was interrupted by the arrival of Barbara, the chef. “Hey, how are you?”, “quite good, and you?”. “Not bad, thanks. Damn, the two ladies are discussing a lot down there”. “It happens often, above all in the last period, it seems that something wrong was occurring at the factories”. “Yeah I listened on the radio, there were riots and it seems someone was distributing propaganda material against the party”. “But it’s terrible”. “Yeah, it’s terrible” echoed at the end Barbara without conviction. Next, this latter continued: “can I ask you a favor?”. “Yes, sure” replied the other, “ask me what you want”. “I’m supposed to go take a call with my sister, do you know that one living in the countryside, could you substitute me for a second here in the kitchen, I’ll promise you I’ll be back in a second”. The other nodded positively and Barbara ran out of the room.
Maria remained another time alone and gave a coy look to the cookers which seemed to be staring at her, she wasn’t a fan of cooking at all. She has never had that passion, or better, she never had time for that passion. Till yet relatively young she had started to work so that obtain the money necessary for all that guy’s velleity typical of her age: the latest fashion clothes and the most popular phone model. Now she was almost ashamed by all that vacuity but at the time to have that things were important, above all if the possession was the product of sweated work. She has never been a very good student, survived, like many, with ups and downs. Anyway, she was productive in the material activities and the mother knew that and was happy, never blaming her daughter for some bad note at school. Hers was a traditional family, with simple values of correctness, loyalty and last but not least attachment with the party’s ideas. Every Sunday the little girl was taken till the closest party venue by the mother to listen to speeches about the magnificent innovations perpetuated by them for the people. She has been raised with these fundamental values, apparently positives, but lack of the critic sense, convinced that keeping a flat life was the best choice for everything. However, one vice has been maintained by her until now, and it was the pleasure for clothes and the attention to the apparencies. She touched her short-curled hairs, pulling them aside meekly, and sniffed the perfume she had sprinkled on her that morning, violet and wild rose, it was wonderful. “Maybe could be too much?” minded between herself, “and whether it wasn’t appreciated by the lady?”, but after came in mind one particular party’s speech, listened during childhood, which essentially said: “the shallowness began with the extreme research to like to the others”, so, she removed those thoughts from her head and backed to concentrate on the kitchen. She dealt a little bit yet with the objects and, next, pulled out from her pocket a book characterized by an entire green cover.
“Hey, Linda, I’m Barbara!”. “Barbara! What a pleasure to listen to you! What’s up?”. “Quite good but I have a short time, I asked a colleague to take my place for a while and so I have to be laconic”. “That’s not a problem, just tell me how is it going and when are you supposing to come here, in the countryside?”. “Not early to be sincere, I have to finish some things. Do you know who the colleague of my lady is, right?”. Linda hesitated a little to answer, at the end uttered: “Margaret”. “Gocha! And you know perfectly the story between me and her so, for the moment, it’s impossible to fire me from the job”. “I understand” replied Linda that without hesitation preferred to change the subject and hastened to say: “I have just finished reading a marvelous book, I recommend you buy it because it’s incredible! The author is a man, do you comprehend, a man! It’s foolish but real, and it has become a mediatic case with millions of copies sold all over the world. Obviously, the party doesn’t like it, but the most incredible thing is the contents, the plot is the following…”, when she was starting to narrate she stopped as if a doubt had arisen in her mind, next continued: “I don’t want to ruin you the surprise, I’ll give you only the name and title: J.C.King, The Pervert’s Guide to The Modern Life”. “Umm”, replied doubtfully the sister, “at the moment I haven’t much time to spend in reading but I’ll see if buy it, at any rate, I would not be so sure the author is a man, probably is all a sort of mediatic campaign controlled by the same party for who knows what purpose”. Linda answered with a disappointed tone: “you’re always so negative, a bit of hope doesn’t hurt anybody”. “However”, went on directly the other, “how does it going with your guest, Emily?”. “Well… she’s a kind person, a university student, good worker, good company”. “You don’t seem convinced, what’s underneath?”. “Nothing, simply she was very religious, attached the party ideas”. “Perfect”, yelled Barbara rising abruptly the voice “one of those extremists!”. “Yeah, but she is nice, at hand in a certain way”. “Ok, ok, sure, but pay attention to not reveal particulars of your past. Do you know how they are, it’s impossible to trust them. Now I have to go, keep in touch”. “Ok, see you soon!”. The call did hang up.
Maria was concentrated on the lecture when Barbara reappeared in the room. “What are you doing?” she said. “You arrived”, remarked her detaching the eyes from the papers, “I haven’t noticed you; anyway nothing special, it’s a new book, incredible, mind that it has been written by…”. “A man” interrupted Barbara. “Yes, a man, are you reading it too?”. “No, it’s simply that my sister has just spoken about it on phone. Remember me who is the author, J.C.King?”. “Correct, they circulate different voices about him, they say he lives in a secret building, hide from the party soldiers. From there he writes books and I assure you that the thematics are really revolutionaries, but they aren’t able to stop him and for me, and that’s only my opinion, he’s directly relied on the uprising happening in the factories”. Barbara had heard everything but didn’t externalize her doubtful opinion about, otherwise preferred changing the topic, giving some advice about recipes and how to cook, after all she was a chef.
A few minutes of calm passed when the disturbing figure of Margaret turned up in the room. Maria, after have noticed her, hurried to ask which was the condition of Madame Elizabeth, and Margaret said she was fine and that now was sleeping on the sofa. Next, she turned toward Barbara and squared her with the look, asking if she was the new Chef. The other woman replied positively but was quite clear it was a long time they knew each other. Anyway, Maria seemed didn’t notice anything and mentioning a faint smile, continued which she was doing among pots, plates and knives. Margaret, after had glanced Barbara for the umpteenth time, asked her to come to the other room because she had to say something. Quietly they changed chamber and during the shift, Barbara had the time to peek the book’s cover, posed on the kitchen worktop. Up there it recognized a strange figure of a stylizes oyster with inside a candy.
The two women arrived in a spot far enough away so that their voices couldn’t be heard. There, Margaret took the speech and said: “Listen, when we’ll come back from the weekend you shall resume your investigative job into factories, I’ll give you a special pass like cleaning lady. Moreover, now you have also to keep an eye on a person”. “A person?” inquired Barbara?. “Yes, a woman. Her name is Chanya and she has been taken here by our envoy in Africa, for this latter she hides something”. “Ok, I’ll supervise on both, but you have to remember your promise: if I’ll find the responsible for insurrection, you’ll give me the liberty to go back to my sister”. “You have the liberty,” said Margaret, “you do which I demand you because of what I had done for you. I hope you haven’t forgotten it”. “I don’t have forgotten it and surely, very early, I’ll take you new data. It’s only a matter of time!”. Then Barbara holds out her hand onward the other woman, that returned the gesture, and the usual greeting has been performed.