Take it on Faith (11)
A secret asexual traitor to her country
One of the cruelest ironies of my life was that the thing that oppressed me also sustained me. I found myself praying every night for my family’s safety and for mine as well. If any harm came to Gavin or to my kids, I don’t know if I would be able to live with myself.
In short, yes, I believed in God, but not the Empire’s caricature of God. The Liberty Empire did the most un-Christian things I could think of and then prided itself in the nation’s collective faith in the same breath. As I kept rewriting sentences in my autobiography, I got a notification on my phone. When I checked it, I saw a light flash into my bedroom. I looked outside and thought I saw someone watching me, but it was probably a trick of the light.
Was it Amalia? The chance of that was pretty low. If she showed up, I had the feeling that she would just climb in the window and start baking cookies. Now that I was thinking about Amalia, I wondered what information I could divine from what I knew about her. Then again, I didn’t know much about her. I didn’t even know if Amalia Jackson was her real name or if it was just an alias.
Either way, I knew she was a force to be reckoned with. Amalia may have looked like she was barely into her twenties, but she definitely had connections. I didn’t know exactly what the nature of her work was, but I knew that it was dangerous. If Amalia was as young as I thought she was, I wondered how she got into doing what she did. She had to have some sort of training from a young age. Otherwise, there was no way she would be able to do this.
Even though child labor laws are next to nonexistent in the Empire, it was still uncommon for young kids to work. Most of them got jobs at the age of fourteen and even then, it was stuff like foodservice and retail, not something that was highly risky and required intimate knowledge of foreign policy. To make matters more complicated, I didn’t think she was a citizen of the Empire. I’ve never seen her take or receive money.
I decided to sleep before thinking more about Amalia. I don’t know what kind of incentive she had to help us. Maybe she was doing it out of the goodness of her heart, but maybe she was doing it to gain something. But what? What could she possibly gain from potentially risking her life for a working-class family?
As I closed my eyes for the night, I found it difficult to drift off for the night. It wasn’t fair that Gavin could pretty much close his eyes anywhere and sleep like a rock, especially if I had to try to sleep with our next-door neighbors arguing. From what I heard through the paper-thin walls of this apartment and saw through my years of living here, they were an old married couple who worried about their daughter, Megan.
The wife, Nancy, thought that the Stormers were damaging Megan by dragging her down and robbing her of her personality. On the other hand, the husband, Will, thought that Nancy was exaggerating and was just afraid of Megan growing up and seeking independence. Apparently, Megan used to be politically moderate, even a borderline bleeding-heart, until she went through a messy breakup with her ex. He cheated on Megan by sleeping with an Asian guy, which sent her over the edge.
I can’t blame him and his partner alone, though. Not all women who walk in on a cheating partner end up joining notorious hate groups. That just seemed to be the catalyst for some bigger underlying issues that the Empire patently refuses to address. Both Nancy and Will seem to have forgotten just how normal racism was in the Empire. Comments about my kind followed me every day whether it was about Black people or West Asian people. It’s not something they would ever fully understand and if they did, I’m not sure they would have cared.
It still wasn’t quite socially acceptable to be blatantly racist in the Empire, but most people were smart enough to hide their racism behind a thin veneer of respectability. They use code words like terrorist, thug, and welfare queen to typecast people who aren’t White as undesirable. By doing so, they create covert associations that are difficult to shake, even if one knows they aren’t true.
I just hoped that Nancy and Will would stop having these arguments at midnight and would take some accountability in their daughter’s radicalization. Since they didn’t have any reason to challenge the normative racism of the Empire, they didn’t. That allowed Megan to uncritically accept ideas that served as the foundation for more and more overtly hateful ideas that pushed her so far off the deep end that no one could get her out.