John by Shaima Saleh

Posted on September 20, 2011 by


(In order to understand this piece, you must first read this explanation.)

I trembled as I held the envelope in my hands; not only because I feared what was in it, but also because no one has ever had this sort of hold on me. How weak have I become? How absolutely fragile… A letter from him turned my world on its heels. There were only three letters on the envelope, but the terror they brought pinned me down.

“Eve.” My own name. Oh, the irony; my own name frightens me now. As I heard the guns fire in the distance I hastily opened the envelope. Lord knows how long it would be until the troops came knocking down my door. The letter was dated the twelfth of October, 1917; a week ago from now.

“Dear Eve,” the letter read, “This letter isn’t one of your conventional thank-you-for-your-admirable-services letters. I’m hoping you get this letter before the German troops reach you. You have known me as John White: the humble reporter for The Daily Telegraph, when in truth I am John Winckleman: half-time assassin, half-time spy. A spy for the Germans, might I add. You might have believed that our first encounter was something of spontaneous nature. Well, my dear, it wasn’t. I have been surveying your activity two months prior of our introduction. At that time, you were Sir Richard Sterling’s favorite… service-provider, shall we say.” I snorted. He was being cordial now? Hah.

“You see, Sir Sterling is one of the cornerstones of the panel The Empire formed to collect intelligence on the German activity. Intelligence of so high importance, Germany was willing to run London to the ground for. Too bad for Sir Sterling, his passion controls him quite often, and of you, he was the most passionate.” I knew that for a fact. The man couldn’t keep his mouth shut about how rich he will make me once we defeated the Germans. “I know by now you can see it unraveling in your head. You were the only route to his secrets.”

And just like a flick of a switch, I began to see it all. He was monitoring me for two months, which meant he knew the delicate intricacies of my pitiable existence – my behavior, my ways, all of it. That’s how he reigned over me. He only needed the proper key to unlock all the secrets, and he had it: being a “reporter.” Memories of his young, bright, blue eyes scrutinizing me began to haunt me. Images of the soft locks of brown hair running through my fingers in the moments of ecstasy flooded my mind. How easily, how effortlessly I poured myself to him was something that disabled every sense of comprehension in me. Another cannon fired in the distance: I continued to read. “I know it to be of no value to apologize to you now, but I must. If not for pretending that I love you, then for truly caring about you. I am heartless, my beautiful. Do not be fooled. Love, I cannot feel, but loyalty –amazingly enough- is something I behold dear. I don’t think that I should tell you to take care of yourself. I should just tell you to be you. I have attached to this letter a map to a secret location that should keep you safe for a while. Now, I am running late for a meeting with Sir Sterling. Goodbye, Eve. And remember: run. Run.”


I took the map and threw the letter into the fireplace. I grabbed my jewelry box and headed out the door. It’s a life on the run for me now; and I have no one to blame but myself.

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