We met at a hotel swimming pool. He was in the water, at a distance when I slipped and fell to what felt like my death. Ultimately, I realized two things, the pool wasn’t very deep, and he wasn’t going to save me.
My parents and I had gone for a trip, or we were hiding, I do not remember. He was a warm welcome at the place offseason. Becoming acquaintances did not take us long for the want of another badminton player to partner with on both our sides. He was somber and left immediately after our games without reacting to the verdict of winning or losing. I spent evenings alone, trying to write, or at least pretend to because I had lost all hope in being ‘good enough.’
One day I asked him the question which had been running in my mind for a long time – “Who are you?” To this, he merely shrugged. “Like are you a serial killer or something?” I asked. He replied, “What? What makes you think that?” To answer, I pointed out his secretiveness, aloofness, and utter lack of empathy, apologizing immediately for what I had just said. He laughed it off, and said, “Trust me, if I were a criminal, I wouldn’t be telling you.”
I spent a lot of time with my parents arguing over where we were going to eat. Not at the hotel restaurant. My mother was insistent on visiting a pure vegetarian restaurant for religious reasons. We talked about our old house and where we had begun. Niche professions were hard to get into because of the specializations required and the risks involved. But they gave the most returns, aiding us to turn our life around, just with faith and consistent practice.
On one of our game nights, he told me that he did not believe in the concept of good and evil. He said that goodness was a social construct, one built by governments to control society. He told me that he enjoyed breaking laws for fun. Just the small ones though, as per his personal morality. His opinion was in stark contrast to what I believed. I was a good person, I helped people, cared about my family, and the thought of breaking laws gave me shivers. He called me boring and said that I needed to be more adventurous.
My mother liked him and told me to take it further with him. My father told me to be careful. But he was a misogynist I had learned by then, yet I continued to be a part of our growing friendship because I was lonely.
Soon after we were close enough, and we had time. I learned he was a banker and had come here for an annual escape. After he had fallen asleep, I cut his belly. The drugs ensured that he did not wake up. We did not kill him; we could never have. Instead, we took an organ, one he had an extra of. We were going to help save a life with it and also earn some money to sustain ourselves and the work we did.
We escaped after he was well stitched and called an ambulance on his behalf. He would heal but he would have a scar permanently reminding him of me and all the things we did.
This time I and my parents moved to a bigger city to find better opportunities, after all, we needed to start saving funds for my college education. My father had stopped gardening because plants were tough to carry and expensive to be bought every year. I was happy with the resilience we had cultivated as a team. And yet there was a slight emptiness still left in my heart like a question. I had never made a single friend who would love me forever.