Margarita Escobar about 1,300 words
122-19673 Meadows Garden Way
Pitt Meadows BC V3Y OA1
778 953 2279
Member: Coquitlam Writers Group
Tri City Wordsmiths
A WHITE LAB COAT
by M B Escobar
Sandra woke in his arms. She looked at him with adoring eyes as he slept soundly like a child after a day of running around.
She gazed at the package on top of the table and a shiver ran down her spine. It was her turn to do the delivery. She had done it before, it didn’t matter. The same feeling of apprehension filled her heart every time her turn came.
She slipped out of bed, got up, and took a shower. The aroma of fresh coffee and toast permeated the small apartment.
A white lab coat / Escobar/ 2
“Morning darling. Got breakfast ready,” Oscar said.
As an answer, she kissed the tip of his nose.
“I don’t have classes today,” he said. “Maybe I could go with you to do the delivery.”
“No, honey. I’ll get more nervous if you ‘re around. And you know it is not safe to have more than one person involved.”
“You are right,” he said and hugged her tightly.
She grabbed her backpack and the package.
“Don’t forget the lab coat.” He handed it to her.
“Thanks love,” she said and left the apartment.
She strode a few blocks to catch the train. As usual, the subway station was crowded.
Some day, when she and Oscar finished their teaching degree they could move to a smaller location away from the big city. A place quiet and peaceful to raise the child they were expecting. But for now, that was a distant dream. More urgent matters occupied her mind.
She caught the train, got a seat, and covered the package with her coat. She closed her eyes and went over the instructions she had memorized.
Get off at San Martin station. You should be there at 10 am sharp; walk to the end of the platform, sit, and wait; your lab coat should be in your right arm. Shortly, someone should sit by your side. Don’t look at the person.
He or she must say, without looking at you,” 1269, I like that number.”
You ‘ll have to say, “ I prefer 6912.”
A white lab coat / Escobar/ 3
Stand up, leave the package on the seat, and walk away. Don’t look back, walk briskly toward the exit but don’t run. In case you’ve been followed, take a bus a couple of times before you go to classes.
She knew the instructions by heart. It wasn’t her first delivery, but this time was different. Why? A voice in her head answered the question.
Now it’s not only your life in jeopardy, but it’s also your child’s life.
The operation went as planned. She never looked at the person, but she recognized a mature woman’s voice. It wasn’t only students facing danger.
After taking a couple of buses Sandra was certain nobody had followed her. She went back to her college and attended regular classes. On her break she overhead a couple of girls talking.
“You know what happened to Luis?”
“No. I haven’t seen him in a few days. It’s not like him to miss classes.”
“Her sister called me yesterday, She told me when Luis was walking to his home he was taken by and thrown into a car. A neighbor saw the scene and told his family.”
“I feel for his mother. Probably she won’t see him again.”
When Sandra got home, she told Oscar about the conversation.
“I know Luis,” he said. He’s a good student but he takes too many risks.”
Her voice trembled. “I’m afraid,” she said and they embraced.
A white lab coat / Escobar/ 4
“I’ve been thinking about what we talked about the other day, you know,” he said.“Yeah, me too. It’s going to be so hard to leave our families and friends. Everything we know and love is here.” She dabbed a tear.
“I agree hon. But we don’t want our child to grow up in this horror.”
“I know, you’re right. You better start the paperwork then.”
“ I already did.”
“I’ll get the coffee ready. The guys will be here any minute.”
After a short while, someone was at the door. Knock- knock followed by a five seconds lapse and knock-knock again. Sandra opened the door, a young man entered. She looked right and left to make sure nobody was around.
She kissed her friend on the cheek. “Are you sure no one followed you?”
“Sure,” he said. “Hello, Oscar” The two friends embraced.
Three other friends arrived at the apartment. Their meeting lasted a couple of hours. They talked about where to make the next deliveries, what to include on them and how to do them safely. At the end of the meeting, Oscar needed to say something.
“Friends, Sandra and I want to share with you our good news. We’re expecting a baby.”
“Congratulations,“ they all said and hugged the future parents.
“Thank you,” said Oscar. “That’s why Sandra will do one more delivery, her last. After that, we will manage without her.”
A white coat / Escobar / 5
They all agreed with Oscar’s decision. The friends left the apartment one by one, making sure nobody saw them and walked in different directions.
After a couple of weeks, it was Sandra’s turn to do her last delivery. The night before, after lovemaking she rested her head in the hollow of his arm.
“ I’m scared,” she said.
“Don’t be, honey. Nothing bad is going to happen. I’ll be close by this time.”
“Good, I’ll feel better having you around. I love you so much.”
“ Me too, darling. Go to sleep now.”
She did. Having him by her side always made everything better. Oscar heard her relaxed breathing and smiled. But sleep didn’t come easy for him.
Sandra sat on the last bench at the subway station. Her white lab coat was on her right arm with the package under it. It was 10 am and nobody sat beside her. On the opposite platform, Oscar sat pretending to read a newspaper.
The train came and occluded his vision. When the train departed, she wasn’t there. He stood, running toward the exit shouting for her. He saw her escorted by two men, each of them grabbed her by an arm. He never stopped yelling her name.
When he got to the exit she was nowhere to be seen. He searched the other exits and the adjacent street calling her name like a madman.
A white lab coat / Escobar / 6
If people live under a dictatorship there are no civil liberties. No democracy. No freedom of expression. No parliament. No free press. No judicial system. The concept is hard to grasp if someone hasn't lived the situation.
Where could Oscar go to look for Sandra? He checked every hospital, the local jails, every morgue in the city. He found no answers. When he had nowhere else to go, he went to a church because it was the place the military didn’t overtly censor.
It didn’t matter if someone practiced a specific faith. A person could be an atheist, an agnostic, or a devoted catholic, the church would try to help. A group of social workers, lawyers, and volunteers worked under the church’s supervision.
It took him over two years to find her. Thanks to an anonymous tip, the church discovered an unmarked grave with four bodies in it. Using DNA samples and dental records, the corpses were identified.
Sandra’s cranium had a hole in her right temple.
What was in those packages? Political propaganda against the oppressive regime. The students made the pamphlets using an old press Oscar hid in their apartment. They read:” We want free elections.” “Stop the killings.” “ Freedom.” “ Where are our missing loved ones?”
The wind brought the messages to every corner of the city. The leaflets flew like white doves bringing a message of hope.