Falling Into TemptationBy: A. Zavarelli
Frozen on the street corner, paralyzing fear snakes through my body, effectively seizing all the air from my lungs. I’m in the middle of the Concrete Jungle, but I may as well be a deer in the woods. Hunted.
It’s the same feeling I always get when I see a woman who resembles my tormentor. Cars are rushing by, horns blaring, people pushing past me. But it’s all drowned out while I try to steady my breath and focus on the figure across the street.
My heart feels like a jackhammer in my chest as I try to make out the woman’s facial features. She’s wearing a hat and sunglasses, but she’s looking right at me. At least I think she is. But why?
We’re at a standoff. I know I should run, but my body refuses to move. I’m so tired of running. So tired of this scenario. Could it really be her? Has she managed to find me in a city amongst millions of other people? I don’t know, but I can’t take that chance.
I begin making a mental list to gather up my belongings, find Alanna, and leave the city within the hour. But just as I turn to run, a man approaches the mystery woman and kisses her on the cheek.
I’m transfixed by this turn of events and can’t force myself to look away. The woman removes her sunglasses, and an overwhelming sense of relief floods over me. It isn’t her. I sprint off in the other direction, relieved and embarrassed at the same time. It looks like I will live to see another day after all.
My real name is Victoria Colletti although I go by the alias Victoria Kelly now. I’m not a spy, or a CIA agent, or anything that exciting, although I often wish that were the case. I’m just your run of the mill twenty-four-year old, except I happen to be on the run in New York City. Before that, it was a long list of other big cities, and the occasional small secluded town where I thought I could hide.
But everywhere I go, there’s always the same scenario. The same almost daily battle of seeing someone who resembles her, the woman I can never escape. Fear controls my life if you could even call it that. I’ve been on the run for so many years now I don’t think I’ll ever have any semblance of a normal life. Whenever I’ve tried to settle down in one place and finally get comfortable, the close calls become real. The woman standing on the other side of the street has turned out to be real in some cities. And I’ve learned my lesson from those close encounters, never settling in one place longer than three months now.
This is what my life has become. I used to run because I was afraid for myself. But somewhere along the line, my feelings evolved, and I stopped caring about my fate. I run now, simply because I don’t want her to hurt any more of the people that I love. Anyone who is just an innocent bystander in all of this. It’s happened once before, and I swore to myself I will never let it happen again.
My time on the run has been full of hard lessons and bitter pills. I feel like a coward for letting her win, but I don’t know any other way. I’m weak and filled with self-hatred. I’m not ashamed to admit that because it’s painfully obvious.
I always feel like I’m split in half. There is the shy, timid me who craves love and acceptance. And then there is the reckless part of me, like a willful teenager crying out for attention-the one who will do almost anything to get it. These days, more often than not, my shy and timid side is making an appearance, and it feels good to finally leave reckless me behind.
My eyes sweep the streets while I check my watch for the fifth time in under a minute.
I’m already late for this meeting with my father, and Paul is stuck in traffic somewhere. But Richard Maddox doesn’t give a shit about afternoon traffic reports. No, my tardiness will have no viable excuse. Yet, on some deep level, it will please him. Because it will only serve to prove that he’s right about me.
While my mother is pushing her agenda for me to take over the company, I think Richard Maddox would love to see me fail. And though I have my own suspicions about it, it’s not something I ever plan on addressing. Because that’s what we do in the Maddox family. We get together and drink and eat, and talk about the finer things in life, but never our real problems. Because that would be beneath us.