Woman Behind the Cell
Btari Edlyana L
(Top 10 Short Stories English Language Fiesta 2021)
*This is a work of fiction. Names, events, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
“There they are! Catch them! The Mr. and Mrs. Thief.”
Slam! “You’re under arrest!”
“By committing heinous crimes, theft and taking a life they shall be given the appropriate punishment. Execution will be done tomorrow night. This will be the end of today’s court.”
Clank! Cell door closed. March 26th, is the very day that the famous thieves ‘Mr. and Mrs. Thief’s’ crimes have come to an end. As well as their cell that will witness their last moment before being executed. After being locked in the prison, Mrs. Thief who’s standing in the room looks around, only to find that she’s alone. The couple was placed in different cells for men and women, most likely somewhere quite far from each other. The only person she can find is the guard outside of the cell. She sits down on the ground slowly.
Mrs… Thief? Is that what they call me now? Is that supposed to be my real name? No.. I-i don’t
Then what is it?
The poor woman is trying to figure her name out. Flashback starts filling her head to find the answer. Starting when she was just a village girl who was born in a humble family. A girl with big ambition. The girl yearned for knowledge, she even worked as a maid to pay the academy bills. Happiness is what she remembers even though life wasn’t easy and tiring. She was happy… Not until her parents arranged her to a marriage on her thirteenth birthday.
Thump! Thump! The sound of her fast heartbeat echoes in her ear as she remembers a painful memory where her dream was ruined and ended right there and then. The marriage.. She knew
nothing about it and the next thing she realized was that she had been separated from her parents in a foreign place with an unknown person. It was her new home and husband.
He was a man of a few words, he wasn’t that loving of a person. He always calls her with ‘hey, you, or wife’. Never with her name for some reason. But she was fine with it, and he didn’t do anything by force and always asked for her concerns. It was normal, he went to work and she did house chores like how it should be. They had everything they needed.
So why did we start stealing?
Bankruptcy is the biggest cause. Her husband was a businessman, but he got scammed by his people. Failed by an attempt to revive his business, all their capital began to run out and they fell into poverty to the point where they won’t be able to eat for 2 days straight. Finding a job with a big amount of money wasn’t an easy matter for those who weren’t highly educated. There were debts to pay.
This is the starting point of their crimes. Her husband was the first to steal, she caught him. But instead of stopping him, she started helping him cover the tracks instead. She knew that they had reasons, so it’s okay. It was for the better. Little by little they grew greedy and because of their reliable plan, they began to steal with larger amounts. They were uncatchable and living a fun and adrenaline free life for six years known as ‘Mr. and Mrs. Thief’ among people. Unfortunately they are only allowed to live that life for six years. They were caught when they accidentally took the life of a person who was trying to fight back.
And here I am…
“Pfft.. pfft.. AHAHAHAHA!!” She laughed loudly. “Guess nobody really does know what the future holds.” She lowers her gaze to scribbled papers around her. The results of the papers and pen she requested yesterday and proof that she didn’t sleep a wink.
If that day they didn’t sell me! If that day I stayed for the academy! If, if that day i didn’t marry
him… would my life not end like this?
…Ha, why would I ask such an obvious question. Of course it would. But what’s the use of regrets now.
She stands up and brushes her short hair with her hands. Clean and straighten her clothes. For the last time, she at least wants to look good in front of her husband. “Mrs. Florent.” the guard
gives her a blindfold. “You have the right to wear it or not, the same for your husband. Your choice.” the guard explained. “Yes…” she faintly smiles .
“Let’s go.” The guard leads her.
Tap… tap… tap… their footsteps echoes as they walk to the punishment room. The hallway is cold and dark, like it has no end. She stays silent until she arrives at the door. She takes a deep breath to relax before entering. This is it.
Creaaakk… doors open. She can see her husband enter from another side of the room, no blindfold in both of them. A few steps they take and at last they meet under the moonlight that enters from the big gap in the wall. They look at each other for a while and smile at each other even though it’s a hard thing to do.
“Acacia…” her eyes widened and shocked to know the fact that her husband calls her by her name.
“So you do know my name, Erick.. Or should I say, Mr. Thief?” She smirks then looks down… by a few minutes later she jumps up to hug him. Her tears falling, he can feel her body trembling in his hug.
He takes out a blindfold and places it on her eyes. Yes, he had predicted that his stubborn wife wouldn’t be wearing a blindfold so he brought one for her. “In three…” he closes her ears. “two…” her sight is dark, she can’t see a thing nor hear anything. But there’s warmth she feels on her forehead. A goodbye kiss it is, she places her hand on his and calmly closes her eyes. “I love you…” “One! Fire!”
| Acaia Florent (1946-1965) |
Erick Florent (1941-1965)
“A letter has been found in the wife’s cell.” says one of the guards. “What does it say?”
We are wrong, I know that since we started our first evil deed. I was greedy for not stopping him and helped him instead. No matter what the reason, it is not justifiable for someone to commit a crime. One deserves what they did. The one who will survive is the one who wants to rise, and unfortunately we are not one of them.
Acacia Florent, 1965. The end.
This story is made to discuss Indonesian problems regarding the common practice of underage marriage in Indonesia. Based on data from SUSENAS on Child Marriage in 2018, it was estimated that 1,220,900 girls married before the age of 18, placing Indonesia in eighth place with the highest number of child marriages in the world. And almost all of them who are married dropout of school.
Education is important. Without it, it can be di cult for someone to distinguish between right and wrong and might lead to crime. The story above is just a representation of what might happen. But the reality can be even worse. Wise readers will not imitate the scene above.
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