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Guilty By Association

by Himmet Kazak 11 months ago in Short Story
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The Heart-Shaped Locket

India’s heart-shaped locket bounced up and down against her chest as she ran. It was the last gift she received from her parents before their passing, and she held onto it for dear life. She looked around at what was once her childhood neighborhood. It was as if no time had passed. Colorful birds of paradise adorned the nicely manicured front lawn. The grass was a vibrant green with solar lights leading the way up to the front door. She stopped to catch her breath but dared not stay long. For whatever reason she was running, she instinctively knew she’d have to start again. The warm, welcoming red door lured her in closer; so close she almost opened it but stopped as she touched the handle. Again, instinctively she knew that if she opened the door, her childhood would be blasted open. She withdrew her hand and ran away from the house.

“India, why did you stop?”

“Because I can’t go back there” she said. She took off her goggles and looked at her therapist. “I can’t do it. I just can’t.”

“What’s preventing you from opening that door” asked her therapist?

India waved her hand to the window. “All of this is the reason I can’t open it. I’m part of the reason we’re in this shithole of a mess.” Outside the windows of the therapist’s office polluted skies filled with gray clouds hung low. Water levels were higher in this part of the country and boats were primary means of transportation. Cars were luxuries only for the wealthy who lived in the mountains, which ironically, India was one of the wealthy ones; it’s also how she afforded a therapist.

“I can’t just sit here and pretend that VR Therapy is going to help me come to terms with the fact my parents were horrible people and I benefited from their greed. I just can’t.”

“The VR Therapy is meant to help you explore the why’s behind certain things in your life. You can only come to terms with whatever it is you’re facing when you’re ready. The VR Therapy is not meant to solve anyone’s problems no matter how big or small” replied the therapist.

“It’s 2323. You think by now your job wouldn’t be needed and I could take a pill or an injection or something and it would all go away.”

“India, good old-fashioned, traditional talking is the most effective medicine and most people don’t utilize it. I, along with other therapists in the building are really pushing talking and not things like VR Therapy or Subconscious Repositioning. When you’re ready, I think you, specifically will truly benefit from talking but that’s not me pushing you. That’s me making a suggestion.”

The fact that two-thirds of the United States’ sea level rose to where they are now is because of India and her family was something she wasn’t willing to discuss just yet with anyone, let alone her therapist. India called the session quits early today and confirmed her appointment for the following week. She left the office and made her way to the elevator and selected “Roof”. She watched the electronic arrow pointing up go higher until it stopped at the roof. Before the doors opened, India dug into her purse and pulled out another pair of googles, this time, they weren’t VR. These googles helped protect her eyes from the clouds’ and sky’s pollutants. A quiet ding signified the doors were about to open and a soft voice reminded the guests of the building to take caution and dress accordingly for inclement weather including extreme heat, extreme hail and/or extreme rain. India had been seeing this therapist for quite some time now and in certain times of year the recording would add extreme sleet, extreme snow or more than usual unsafe air quality.

The doors opened and India walked quickly to the helicopter waiting for her. Lights, even during the day were lit on the roof top guiding her way. As she looked down, she had a realization. The VR Therapy showing her house was not in fact signifying her childhood, it represented her adulthood. How many times had she followed these lights to the bright red door of the chopper? The birds of paradise plant represented the new colorful species of birds that mutated over the last however many centuries to compensate for the darker skies. The brightly colored birds stuck out in the gray skies. The manicured green grass were sometimes visible, depending on air quality on top this building. The owners of the building thought it would be a nice touch to add fake grass on top of the building since they couldn’t have it outside on the ground any longer. It had hit her like a brick to the face. All of this time she wasn’t scared to visit the past; she was scared to continue to live.

She held her heart-shaped locket in her hand and felt a wave of relief come over her. Now that India had figured out what was at the root of her anxiety she could talk to the doctor during the next appointment. She entered the helicopter and told the pilot to bring her home.

A few days later, India read in the news that the building where she went for therapy collapsed into the water, with it taking almost all the lives in the building with it, including her therapist. She took a moment to digest the news and then began to sob. More damage and loss because of her and her family. She pulled the hear-shaped locket from her neck and inspected it. India thought about how important the locket once was to her but now it’s a constant reminder of her family’s actions and how they poisoned the world. She walked over to the window of her house, high atop a mountain in the clouds, with no eye protection and opened it. With one quick toss, she threw the locket out the window. It was the first step in finding the healing she needed. She still had a long way to go in a world she felt partly responsible for creating, but she was ready to begin to correct the mistakes of her and her family’s past, piece by piece.

Short Story

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Himmet Kazak

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