Typewriter diligently pressed the ink against the sheet of paper. Cigarette smoke filled the cramped room. A tiny piece of ash has fallen on the table. Noticing it, secretary paused typing, extinguished the rest of the cigarette and looked at the paper in front of her. After a brief moment of gazing at the words, she continued typing with haste.
The door behind her opened and older gentleman entered the room, holding stack of papers.
“Elizabeth, I need these checked as soon as possible.” Man placed the papers on her desk and turned around.
“I’m almost finished typing the invitation body for the reception next week.” She took a moment to build up some courage and continued, “I wanted to ask if I could go home earlier to my son.”
“Elizabeth, please know that Ministry appreciates your work, but remember, we are in the middle of the war. Regardless, the minister of defence needs these papers done today.” He gave Elizabeth a tight-lip smile and left the room.
She glanced at the papers. They contained names, addresses and some numbers. After letting out a sigh, she continued typing, pressing cold metal letters with strength, releasing anger, that built up in her chest. Elizabeth searched for a pack of cigarettes on the table and after a while found it, buried underneath countless papers. After lighting one up, she sat back on her uncomfortable wooden chair and thought of her son.
That bright, ever-smiling kid. Always has something clever to say to his worrying mother. Elizabeth’s face turned bleak once she thought of her husband, who was taken as a mere soldier, to fight, in this useless war. Poor Alfred is missing him so much, that he started looking for male company outside of warm walls of their small apartment.
Cigarette burned her finger as she was brought back to her senses and stacks of papers on her table. Rays of setting sun hit her eyes, making it hard for her to type, but she carried on, knowing that there is no way out of this room, without her finishing.
Elizabeth did not like the quiet of this room and decided to take out her portable small radio. After switching device on, she carefully placed it at the edge of the table. Crackling sounds started coming out from the small device. Soon enough Elizabeth managed to differentiate the radio host. With an overly dramatic voice, he was talking about the advances and victories carried out by the brave soldiers of motherland. Elizabeth wasn’t interested in the cheap propaganda. She was waiting for the list of fallen, anxiously expecting to hear the name of her husband.
Another cigarette hit the ashtray as she finished with invitation. She quickly placed the new sheet into typewriter and picked up the top paper from the stack that was brought in to her.
“Anthony Smith.” She read aloud. “Committed treason by forging food stamps.”
“That is a serious crime.” Said a voice behind her back.
“Please accept my apologies, I didn’t see you come in.” Elizabeth said, recognizing minister of defense.
“Oh, please sit down, it’s all right. I just came to check on my favorite secretary.” Minister sat on the chair opposite Elizabeth.
“I appreciate your concern sir.”
“Concern? You have a reason to believe that I have concern?”
“I meant to say…”
“I have noticed that you are much better at typing words than uttering them.” He said, smirking. “Funny enough, you actually correct. I do have concern for you and your family.”
“You are very kind sir.”
Minister only now noticed the muffled sound of the radio. “So, these are allowed on the premises now?” He picked up the radio and switched it off. “This could be an enemy device.”
“I am sorry sir.” Her gaze monumented on the radio. “I use it to find out about dazzling advances of our great forces.”
“Very patriotic indeed.” He said laughing. “Does your son Alfred also share this enthusiasm for our motherland?”
Surprised that minister knew the name of her son, she said with slightly shaking voice, “Of course he is. His father is fighting on the front lines.”
“I suppose that is why Alfred spending evenings drawing antiwar graffities on the streets?” Minister took out a photo from the inside pocket of his jacket and placed it in front of Elizabeth.
“This can’t be him.” She said without touching the photo.
“So, information that I received is false? Perhaps we should send the informer to prison for false report.”
“No, I mean, it’s possible that it was him.”
“A moment ago, you were saying that he is patriotic young man, who would never do something subversive as this.”
“Please sir, why are you here?”
“You know exactly why I’m here Lizzy.” Smile on his face showed perfect white teeth.
“It is very humbling, but I have a husband.” She took out the last cigarette from the pack.
“You want to see him, together with your son or would rather hear about them during evening news on this radio?” He tapped the radio accidentally switching it on.
Awkward silence filled the room. Minister walked towards the door and locked it, removing his bright red tie on the way. Elizabeth anxiously looked around the room for the way out. Her eyes focused on the scissors laying on her desk. She tried getting up, but ministers firm hand stopped her halfway, pushing her to sit back down. He removed his grey military jacket and threw it on the floor. Elizabeth had no time to lose. Without much thought, following her natural instincts, she pierced the minister on the side of his neck. Seeing him still alive she continued stabbing him until the body lay lifeless on the floor.
At this moment sirens blared outside, followed by loud sounds of explosions and shaken ground. Last thing Elizabeth remembered is inner calmness and peace, before the upper floors collapsed on top of her.
Small radio continued murmuring news of victories…