ARELI FREEMAN

The urge to vomit had become stronger. Quickly, I changed into the jeans and shirt carefully left under a bush. I then began to walk to the bus stop looking as nonchalant as possible, snorting at the sheer ridiculousness of the situation. I could most likely buy three luxury cars now, and I was taking a rarely washed city bus. I just began to laugh and laugh as the lights streaked by, only stopping my seemingly temporary insanity at the foot of an old New York townhouse. I tucked the backpack into the hall closet, and drifted into a troubled sleep full of guilty voices and triumphant cheers.

The phone rang. It was a beautiful fall day, three weeks after my escapade. I ran to pick it up with shaking hands that had not stopped trembling since the day I touched that computer. My mother’s voice was on the other line.

“Mom, I finally did it. I’m debt free. No more strange calls, or meeting with those men. I paid off the loans.”

I heard an excited gasp.

“Amazing! That’s amazing! I told you not to borrow that money for your student loans in the first place, but I’m glad you paid it. That job with the government was the perfect job for you. I had no idea someone could earn one hundred twenty thousand dollars in six months. They must have really liked you.”

“Yes. They did, they did. The division manager is really who helped me out.”

“Wonderful. What a shame she was fired.”

“Yeah, she lost her laptop that had government files on it people were willing to pay a lot of money for.”

“Who would lose something like that? And she seemed so organised too.”

I shuffled my feet.

“Well, some people just aren’t what they seem to be –”

The line was suddenly cut. I needed to call the phone company to see what was going on, because these interruptions were becoming quite frequent. Walking away into the kitchen, I noticed through the window that my grill was ready. I picked up the bag lying on the couch, only to have a bill float carefully onto the floor, as if it was reluctant to leave the safety of the backpack. I picked it up as well, and proceeded to turn my guilt into ashes.