I am going to try and write a short story in 35 minutes. Because that is how much time I have.
“Your life is your own choice,” he said. And I nodded.
And then I saw myself nod as if the camera panned back. And I stood up and smacked my hands on the desk.
“Tell me how it is a choice to be evicted. To live from scraps. To be laid off. How is that a choice?”
He shrugged in a barely noticeable way and rolled his chair back.
“We are done.”
Outside I stood in the summer heat. [Decided not to do the winter cold] The air shimmering and the trees suffocating. They looked bad. They looked abandoned and lonely.
How was it a choice for them to stand there? To be dependent on others to be taken care of? Someone had put them there and now others had decided they no longer cared about them. Because there was no money.
It was not my choice to become obsolete. Somebody else made that choice. It was also not my choice to be born here. It was my choice to abort you. As I did not want you to grow up in this world. It also was my choice to have the operation that would prevent any future pregnancy to happen. Even though my doctor forced me to go through the talk-groups and therapy that suddenly was paid for by governmental funds.
Where were those funds when I fell in a depression? Where were you when I needed you?
And how is is my choice that I suddenly received hate-notes to convict me for the choices I made for myself?
The only real choice I made was to move here, to Florence.
This morning a boy has been murdered. He ran out of a shop. He was followed by the shop owner. He was almost captured by security. Then he was captured again and when they dropped on top of him he broke two ribs. This afternoon he died in the holding cell. He did not steal anything.
It was neglect. It was assumption. It was a total disdain of human values. They did not believe his friends, who claimed they were paying. They did not check if he was OK when they put him in the cell. They assumed he was faking it. They did not check on him later.
He drowned in his own blood.
This is not about choice.
I can see how you are draining the soul out of this country. I can see how you justify the crimes on high levels where people steal billions of Euro’s and simply emerge as members of the board someone else. It is you who should be crushed under mall-security and put into holding cells to die.
I can see how you create this system of “choice” to simply turn your backs on us. “You got fired?” “You became obsolete?” “You became ill?” “You got infected after the operation?”
Well: fuck you. The only choice we did not make is to kick you out. To revolt. To kill your system based on sociopath principles. “Drowning? Your choice Why would I help? Who are you anyway? You wanted this. You should have stayed away from the water.”
The streets are on fire. I am running with the mob. And a part of my mind is wandering: how did I end up here? I am an educated woman. I finished university.
I had always considered riots to be ungrateful. Uncivilized. Unthinkable. But I have had enough. Something snapped. And I am here. Running. Throwing stones. Screaming with the mob, my mind one big red blur of primal rage.
Until something makes me stop and drop out of the crowd.
I cover my face with cloth as the mist sprays over us. Even through the fabric the pepper is suffocating. With tearing eyes I run off in the side-street to the river. What saved me was my own sweat: capturing most of the particles in the fabric. But my eyes are on fire and I am almost blind.
I try to ignore the pricking in my back. The fear of one drone following me. I avoid looking up and behind me. I simply continue to run.
I reach Ponte Vecchio. I reach the river that flows like old copper beneath me. My eyes cry. My eyes must be red. Then something hits me and everything is black.
They had been standing there. Waiting. Rows and rows of Caribinieri. Waiting for the poeple like me, escaping the crowd. And I wake up in – what I can only call a room. A room full of people. Some of them awake like me. Some of them sharing water.
“We only have one bottle,” a man says apologetically as he offers me a paper cup with maybe two sips. He does not mind I am black. Black in the eyes of an Italian. Black as: from the south. I accept. Then I look around me.
Are these people uneducated beasts? Is this society in chaos? Is humanity really that bad? There is more love and care here than I ever found outside. Each of these people lost something. Each of them were out there the last night. Each of them could have been one of those people tossing cars on their side, setting fire to stuff, breaking windows.
Are we really worse than animals? Or is that simply another thing they lied about to silence us?
I no longer mute myself.
This is my voice.