How much does a life cost?
|"I'll pay you tomorrow."
"I need it now," the old man said. She could see how his eyes had formed into slits. "I'm thirsty."
"But I don't have one right now. Tomorrow, at dawn, I promise," she pleaded.
"You better pay up tomorrow, or your father--" A threat. She didn't want to hear the rest of it.
"I will. I'll pay you tomorrow," she repeated to the balding man in front of her, perfectly normal except for his snake-like eyes that always appeared when he was angry.
"We'll see." He started walking away from her, but stopped. He cocked his head towards her. "You know, you don't have to be in debt if you just choose to do it," he said in a soft voice that only she could hear.
Normally, she would have said no. She didn't want that kind of life. But now, she wasn't so sure anymore. The image of her father, unconscious for two days, flashed in her mind. He had a tube in his mouth, out of his chest, needles stuck in his hands--
"Think about it, my dear," he said, running a bony finger on her pale cheek. He gave a smirk and walked away from her, his cane doing tapping noises on the pavement.
She had no other choice. She hurried back to the hospital, kissed her father's forehead ("A life for your life, Papa"), changed her clothes, and went into a bar. Already she could see how a young man at the corner of the bar was eyeing her. Poor man, she thought. The old man was right: It would all be easy for her if she just chose to.
She walked toward him, her eyes turning into green and black slits. She knew the payment would be ready before sunrise.