“I want to go outside and see the sun. I want to be able to run for miles. Please can I go out for just a few minutes,” I say drawing out the words so my voice sounds even more desperate.
“A.J. you know my answer. As your mother it’s my job to keep you safe and keeping you inside is the only solution for right now. I promise I want to go out just as much as you do but we can’t.”
“Why not?! It's not fair that I have to live my life never seeing anyone's face but my own mothers. You at least have to give me an answer. I’m 14 now I can handle it.”
“I guess you're right. It’s not fair that you don’t know why we are trapped down here.”
I’m as silent as a mouse as I wait for her to continue.
Completely intrigued I remain eye contact with her making sure she knows that I am paying close attention.
“As you might remember me telling you, your father was a brilliant doctor. He was the smartest person that I had ever met. He was trying to find a way to make humans live longer and better lives.”
“Did he find a way?” I ask, completely engrossed in the story.
“Yes, he did. But no one knows how he did it, not even myself.”
“Well can’t they just find the person that he did it on and do tests and things to find out what Dad did? Is it really that hard?” I ask, almost hurt that I have had to live underground all these years when my dad was a genius and we could probably be living in a castle right now going to some rich private school.
“The thing is A.J. He did the tests on you. He made you stronger, smarter, and a whole new being that is more fit to survive in today's day and age.”
“That's perfect!” I say almost yelling. “I should go outside and live with real people if I am more fit to survive. I was made for this world yet I am being hidden from it.”
“As much as I want to see you interact with real people and be able to live a normal life I can't let you. Your father grew extremely proud of what he had accomplished and he wanted to do it again and again. The only way to find out how he had made you was to take you apart. He was willing to sacrifice your life just so that he could cut you open to find out how you were made more fit to survive.”
There was a long silence between the two of us. The shock running through my body was so much that I couldn't even speak.
Finally after what seemed like forever she continued, “ I had to take you out of there. I had to save you. A.J., I’m sorry but I’m not your real mother. I took you to save you and I was going to bring you back once your father had come to his senses but he still hasn't.”
“What?!” The rage overtook my body and I stumbled onto my knees. “You kidnapped me! You can’t make me stay down here. I don’t have to listen to you! You stole me from my rightful parent because you thought that you could save me but you didn't! No, you only made it worse. You have made me suffer through my horrible life of living in a bunker!! My father should have killed me. I’m just a lab rat used for research.”
“Listen A.J., I’m sorry but I am glad of what I did because I saved your life and raising you has been one of the greatest things that had ever happened to me.”
“Well it wasn't supposed to happen to you! You are not legally allowed to raise me. I have never seen the light of day because of you. I’m leaving right now”
“A.J. you can’t leave.”
“Give me one good reason why I couldn't just walk right out, no need to show me to the door, I know where it is because I have been staring at it longingly my whole life!” I say in my most confident voice trying to gain her fear.
“Let me finish the story. There are some new…… factors.”
“What?” I say, wondering if she is just trying to buy time or distract me from trying to leave.
“There has been a new factor to the world. People can not come in close contact with one another. Masks must be worn at all times and you can’t gather in big groups. A virus has infected the whole United States called Covid-19.”
“What does this have to do with anything?”
“Your father worked especially for something like this. Humans need to be stronger and smarter to steer clear of this deadly virus. They need what you have.”
“Did my father forget what he did to me? Why hasn't he made people like me yet?”
“A.J., I’m so sorry but your father is dead. He got Covid and it wiped him out. He died a few months ago.”
“So now I’m safe right? If he died he isn't trying to come and kill me.”
“Well, the thing is, with Covid everyone is flipping out. I can’t buy toilet paper anywhere but that's the least of our worries. Your father was very prideful and told everyone about his discovery and that he had made a safer way for humans to live. They are all looking for you A.J. but they won't find you if you stay safe with me. Please, I know that taking you from your rightful family was wrong but I care about you and want to protect you.”
She looked up at me hopefully, she knew that if I wanted to, I could leave right now because it’s unlawful for her to hold me here. Not knowing what else to do I consented to staying here with her. My life isn't meant to be lived like this though. I will find a way to get out of here. But for now I have to pull it together and act normal. She will have no idea what I’m plotting!