When I first see his picture, I know.
When I first see him in person, I am certain.
When I first say hello, we both know.
We are meant to be together. He is the one. We say “hi,” and we click. We talk for hours about anything and everything. Like-minded souls, we are able to engage in discussions without fighting, and joke around and laugh at ourselves and each other. That’s why it is so painful to remember.
When I first saw his picture, I was given my instructions.
“This is your target—your mission. You must eliminate him.”
When I first saw him in person, I was given my orders.
“Take your time. Complete the mission. You know what you have to do.”
When I first said hello, I was given a warning.
“Don’t get attached.”
That’s why it’s so hard when we went for a walk under the starry sky.
With agents watching my every move, I know I have to keep from letting them know. No one can know; it would doom us both. I have two options.
1: Kill him and be given my medal for my first successful mission.
2: Refuse to kill him, doom us both, and be shamed and punished for failing on my first mission.
Number two is out of the question. We can’t both die; that would be stupid. But number one is also a no. I can’t kill him. I just found the love of my life… and I’m supposed to kill him.
But I am an agent.
We are cold, calculating, and cruel.
Broken hearts are nothing to us, we only care about broken necks.
There is no room for feelings. Love is a game for a child.
Now I know why.
“Don’t get attached.” they say. “You’re there to play a role and complete your mission. Don’t forget that.”
Too late. I’m already in love. I just know it. There is no way I can possibly kill him. That’s why when he tells me his secret, it crushes me.
When I first said hello, he was given his orders.
“She’s making this easy for you. Now finish the job.”
“You’re going to kill me?” I ask, terror in my voice.
“No, I could never! I love you! From the moment I saw you I loved you! I can never kill you!”
“Oh, I love you! I love you so much! I was sent to kill you too, but I love you!”
We make a plan, an option number three. We would escape, run away.
“I love you too much to kill you.”
“And I love you. But if they capture us they’ll kill both of us.”
“I would rather die than kill you.”
“And I you!”
We kiss— a lovely kiss—a kiss under the stars. It is beautiful and romantic, but forbidden and dangerous. We had removed our earpieces and gone deep into the woods, but even then it was possible we were watched.
But we don’t care.
We make a plan that night, and then we run. We take off into the sunrise, trying to disappear. Fueled by nothing but love, we travel mile after mile on foot, not knowing when we can rest and get food. Drinking from muddy streams and eating crickets, we hope we can outlast our hunters, although deep down we both know this plan is hopeless; there is no hope. The moment we had started running, we had sealed our fate. There is certainly a kill order for us now, the only question is who will catch us first.
But those days are the best of my life. In between fearing for our lives and hoping the dirty water won’t kill us, we have fun. We tell stories and jokes, making each other laugh and smile. Knowing that this is likely the only time we have to do this does not dampen our happiness in each other, only makes it more bittersweet.
There are no secrets between us. We share all the information we know about our organizations, our missions, our selves. He is an experienced agent who has gone on many successful missions, whereas I am a newbie. He is my first mission; it seems I have failed.
Miraculously, we survive six months. Our organizations had the policy that run-aways are dead after six months, so we hide for one month more. Then slowly, we emerge. Having gotten married on the run, we get a motel, then an apartment.
One year. We had survived one year on the run, together. Somehow, we had made it. We were safe.
“One year ago we ran away to survive together.” I say. “So much has changed, and I have something to tell you.”
“What is it?” he asks.
“There was more to my orders than what I told you.” I say, “There was one more piece I never told you about.”
When I first saw his picture, they told me I had to kill him.
When I first saw him in person, they told me to take my time.
When I first said hello, they told me not to get attached.
When we ran away together, they told me I had one year.
“One year to complete my mission.” I say, pulling a gun from my belt.
He looks shocked and terrified. “This whole time? It was just part of the mission?”
I aim my pistol at his chest and released the safety. “I did love you, truly I did. But my mission comes first. The mission always comes first.”
I am an agent.
They told me not to get attached.
They gave me one year.
That year is up.
I pull the trigger.
I complete my mission.
I wake up.
He rolls over in bed and looks at me. “You ok hon?”
I nod. “Just a dream.”
He goes back to sleep.
I think back to a year ago.
Take your time, they said.
I planned to.
And so did he.