I keep walking, even though now I am not so sure where I am going. I’ve gotten away from the cameras, and mother will have forgotten about me already: I am free to go to work, which is where I am supposed to be now. Alas, free to do what I am told to.

It’s funny. A year ago I’d be the first one back from lunch. I was just starting out in the company and I had big dreams and goals for myself — and the certainty that I’d achieve them. And now, more than a year has passed and I find myself less and less motivated to breath. The thought of treading this path I’ve trodden more than a thousand times already makes me sick. Literally: it makes my stomach tie up in knots, in an attempt to avoid vomiting. I don’t know what is: I just don’t want to do it. And seeing all these smiling faces walking past me unties the knots and the vomit starts forcing its way up. I think of lavender. I think of how mother had planted small roses in our front yard, and they didn’t smell particularly good, but they had a nice, quieting scent: the scent of something pure and harmless. And they were: they didn’t even have thorns. They were pastel coloured and nice. I feel better, physically: my mind still rebels. Maybe it’s not funny, after all.

I could walk back to the park. It is a crazy thought, it is: no one would say or do anything, after all, it’s not really forbidden, but they would look at me in a weird way. They’d think: oh, she is not dressed as someone who would fix the machines in the park, so why is she heading there? The park is always empty at this time — I suppose, because I have never been there in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday. I am going. My body leads me, against my conscious wishes. It is too late to be at work on time anyway, and it says: it is too late, Olivia, so just go. What is the worst that could happen, really?

I can already see the park, and my wristband vibrates again: another message. Another message from an unknown sender, and it says the exact same thing the last message said: that I haven’t updated my stream in more than 24 hours and I’m supposedly “missing out on something”.

As I walk towards the park, I feel all eyes on me: invisible eyes that follow. I can’t really see anyone, or their faces, or their eyes, but I know that I am being watched. That’s not news: we’re always being watched. Every single day, every step of the way, says the ad the government runs. They even had the nicety to rhyme, you look at that: did they mean to make us feel comfortable, as if it were a nursery rhyme? I shouldn’t be thinking this, even, but it’s true. And it works, because no one does anything wrong and if they do, they simply disappear. But I’m not doing anything wrong, am I? I am walking towards a park. And I haven’t updated my stream. But that doesn’t mean anything: I am a good person. They will understand that.



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