Allie sat at the table with her parents after telling them about her day giving them all of the information she could, they sat patiently listening but she could see the wheels turning in their minds steadily processing what she was telling them. There was a beat of silence before her father sat back and said,
"Well... I guess as long as your money drops I don't see where you need to quit so early..." He looked to his wife and she nodded in agreement. They looked at their daughter and he said, "But we need to have a rule that if they at anytime make you feel uncomfortable or try taking samples of blood or anything without us seeing some paperwork."
"And don't sign ANY official paperwork without us reading it." Her mother added. Allie nodded and said,
"Yes, I agree."
"Good," Her father said, "Now that it's settled let's have dinner."
That night Allie sat in bed unable to really sleep, she figured because she didn't really do much through the day and she made a mental note she should get some sort of exercise videos to use now and then. Her phone 'dinged' and she rolled over to look at it. The display showed a bubble from her bank. She sat up and logged into her bank and watched the loading bar move along the screen then it popped up-
She sat up in disbelief staring at the screen her heart thumping deeply in her chest. Even though she had the number expected she didn't fully feel it was true and now here it was in black and white. She thought quickly of what she could do with all of this money and then she shook her head and sent half of the money into her savings account and set the app to do the same with every deposit from here on in. Feeling quite proud of herself she logged out of her account and settled back down in the dark attempting once again to sleep.
In the morning the first thing Allie did was show her mother the bank account. Her mother smiled seeing her daughter already being responsible putting money into savings and she kissed her forehead stroking her hair for a moment before letting her go to get ready for the second day of work.
As the limo pulled through the gates once again Allie saw the other limo leaving, she thought of asking her driver if there was a connection but quickly concluded if he even did speak to her it was more than likely none of her business.
The woman was waiting again and she led Allie to her room typing quickly on her phone.
“Do you need anything right now?”
“No, ma’am, I’m alright.” Allie responded and the woman left without another word closing the door after her.
This day went through the same way, as did the rest of the week and the money in her accounts kept rising.
Allie combed out her hair and finished getting ready to go to dinner with her friends.
"So how is work for everyone?" One of her friends asked the table. And the responses were;
"So boring I file papers all day."
"I love it! Playing with the animals is great!"
"It's fine everyone is super nice."
They all turned to Allie, whom hadn't said a lot for most of the night.
"Well I sit alone in a room and do what I want all day... I get food when I want it... and then I go home." They all stared quizically.
"Are you alright?" One of her friends asked.
"I'm fine. Just saying how work is." They all looked at each other and then one said,
"Have you guys seen the new girl around town?"
"Yeah who is she?"
"Well her name is Lucy and she's really shy but she's been going to the library and reading a lot. I have been trying to get to know her... She always leaves at the same time to go home. I guess she has a strict curfew.”
"I've seen her getting out of a limo before."
Allie pictured the limo that passes her at work every day.
"Where is she from?" She asked; her mouth feeling suddenly dry.
"I don't know, but she's interesting."
“You ok, Allie?” She blinked, finding herself standing over the table her hands and face feeling numb.
“Y-Yeah..... I just.... don’t feel well.... I think I need to go.....” She placed some cash on the table and exchanged hugs before heading to the door. At the Hostess stand she turned back to see her friends back into conversation laughing and joking, she felt something she never felt before. Misplaced.
“May I help you, ma’am?” The hostess asked. Allie looked at her for a moment then breathed and said,
“Yes. I’d like to pay for the entire tab for table 14.” The woman looked at the computer and said,
“Um.... it’s $200....”
“Make it five.” Allie said pulling out her card, “And tell them to get dessert.” The woman stared confused but was satisfied when the card easily paid the bill and handed it back printing the receipt. Allie took it and left the building slowly walking home.
“You’re home early.” Her mom called from the living room.
“Yeah I’m just gonna go to bed.....” Allie called.
“W-Wait....” Allie looked at her parents sitting on the couch, “You don’t want to tell us how it was??” Her mom asked. Allie sighed lightly and said,
“It was fine.... everyone ate food and talked and I wanted to come home.”
“Are you feeling alright?” Her dad asked.
“I’m fine I just didn’t feel like being out...” Her parents looked at each other and she pretended she didn't notice as her phone started to vibrate. All of her friends were messaging thanking her for their dinner and saying she shouldn't have. She plainly said,
"You're Welcome. Good Night." To each message and shut off her phone, not noticing her parents staring at her. Watching each expression and movement their daughter was making as she looked and typed over her screen. They smiled nervously when she glanced back up at them and she saw some type of fear in their eyes. She stood up with her bag and said,
"I'm going to bed now... love you both."
"Love you too... dear..." Her mother said as she strode from the room and up the stairs without giving them any hugs.
The next morning she watched the other limo leave and tried to see where it turned and went but all she could tell was that it went towards town. She sighed heavily as she slumped in her seat her music playing as she adjusted her sweatshirt. She walked into the building with her bag and music playing not greeting many of the people that wished her 'good morning'. She got into her room and crawled into the bed going back to sleep, a habit that had recently been setting. At lunch she just ordered a sandwich and watched tv as she ate. She read a bit and played games but mostly kept to herself. She took a decent dinner home and tried to stay up in her room unknowingly avoiding her parents as she did so.
Her friends would invite her out for their dinners and she would ignore them, she'd see pictures they posted together with a new girl. She stared at the girl, her hair was dark and her eyes were bright. In the first sets of pictures she was very shy to be in the pictures at all but gradually through the posts stared opening up and being as fun and silly as the rest of the group, as fun and silly as Allie used to be. She stared at the newest picture of the girl and felt something 'crack' inside of her. She thought of the limo, of her job, the way the woman described the job on her first day. As strange as she felt that it was she couldn't help but find there was some kind of connection in the middle of it all.
After a few more months Allie spent more and more time at work asking if she could stay longer and longer on different nights and talking to her friends and family less and less.
One day she walked into the front door of her home and heard her parents talking.
"I don't know... she's just so different than when she first started working..." Her mother's voice said quietly. She looked into the living room to see them having coffee with the woman who had hired her almost two years ago.
"Hello, Allie." She said looking her over. At this point Allie kept her hair tied up and stayed in sweat pants and shirts and just went to work in her slippers with her bag. She was showered and her clothes were clean but it was definitely an obvious change from when she first met the woman. Allie pulled out her headphones and asked,
"What's going on?"
"I am speaking to your parents of a new arrangement our bosses wish to conduct."
"It is no doubt in my mind you have seen a limo leave every morning as you are getting to work."
"Yes, pretty much every day..."
"Well the reason why is you aren't the first person to have the job you have."
"Yes, we have for years been testing different social habits of humans and we have come to the next step in your study. The limo you pass each day carries another girl, one who started this job the same way you did and it is time to start her next step as well. We are going to place her in your parents' home and care whilst you will officially move in and stay in ours. You will get a bigger room, your own kitchen, washer and dryer plus still having access to all of the things you have had this entire time and more. You can schedule days to go out to see your friends and family so they won't miss you and your pay will triple as well." She looked at her parents who seemed very torn and hurt over this conversation.
"It is your decision you are an adult." Her father said though his eyes hoped she'd say; 'no'.
"How long will the girl stay?" She asked.
"Till she feels safe enough to get her own place, she'll still be getting paid by us." Allie thought of the pictures her friends have been posting of the girl.
"Do I still hold the right to quit and come home for good?"
"Yes. Never to be bothered again." She nodded then said,
"I'll start packing." Her mother stood quickly saying,
"Allie! Can't we all at least talk about this??" She stopped and looked at her mother seeing tears down her face, but she felt nothing.
"I just want to try. If I don't like it I'll come home. Simple as that."
"But Allie-" Her father started before she said,
"Dad, my money will TRIPLE per day. Even if I only stayed a month I could live a really long time with what I have without worries. Even buy my own house and have it paid for." He watched her, silently agreeing with these facts but also wondering why she didn't even want to stop to think. He took her mother in his arms and said,
"You can go," He held his wife tighter feeling her want to protest from his arms, "We will set up our guest room for this other girl and she can stay as long as she needs. Allie, come home any time you want we love you snd want you to be happy." She nodded and said,
"Thank you, Dad." She went upstairs and started packing what she would need and met her parents at the door giving them hugs and leaving with the woman going back to the building.
"You didn't have to leave tonight, you know." The woman said. She sighed and said,
Allie got adjusted to her new room and didn't really pay attention to the outside world. She messaged her friends and family enough for them to know she was ok, but mostly kept to herself.
Eyes watching the cameras a voice in the dark says,
"She hasn't even asked to leave in months..."
"The social butterfly eventually becomes almost a hermit."
"She seems to enjoy it... being alone..."
"Definitely not like our last subject."
"No, the comparison... Lucy started as lonely with no friends or family to speak of and took several years to even become friends with any of the workers her even though they did their best to be super friendly with her... We sent her into the world very meek and timid and now has a family and a lot of friends enjoying her life... Allie came to us as a people pleasing social butterfly as was said and very slowly became more accustomed to just being with herself and seemed to prefer it."
"I believe it's as said she was a people pleaser she wasn't happy unless everyone else was but now she doesn't have to cater to other individuals and therefore is happier just taking care of herself. She is still social and helps the different workers as she gets bored or restless but doesn't seem to even care to actually leave the facility."
"Yes, it has become a safety net for her."
"For some solitude is the key to peace... and some it is just plain lonely... finding the fine line between can be dangerous to one's mind..."
"We have done better allowing the subjects to keep contact with their friends and families as they need and letting the other workers get to know them and spend time with them."
"Yes, with all of the subjects the main thing we have learned is that absolute utter loneliness is the real danger."