Personal Protest

Adrienne stared at the blank sheet of paper for a moment, the pen gripped tight in her hand. It had been many years since she had written anything. For a moment she looked up scanning the foyer of the courier firm in case anyone was watching this unusual activity. Behind the front desk the receptionist spoke on the phone. Farther back a number of clerks tapped away at screens, talking to each other or their virtual assistances as they worked. No one paid her any heed.

The urge to look for security cameras was strong, but Adrienne quelled it. She already appeared suspicious enough, glancing at the ceiling would only increase her chances of being flagged by the security systems, and then all her preparation would be for nothing.

A ragged breath slipped out between her lips and she pushed back her narrow shoulders. The hand that had been twisting strands of her long dark hair dropped to the paper, and then she let the pen make the first black marks on the pristine sheet.

Dear Burne, I hope this letter reaches you before any other news. You will no doubt guess after reading these first lines that what I have written here is not what you want to hear, but it is the safest way I can let you know.

It has taken me a long time to realise that there is no simple way to protest about what happened to your father. You know how I have tried to seek justice, only to be blocked at every turn by the governments who keep an iron grip on the flow of information.

Last week I completed yet another petition on a site that claimed to be impervious to the authorities. A day later it had vanished; not just my post, but the entire company. I don’t know where it was hosted, but there appear to be no safe havens for those who, like me, want to speak out; social networks aren’t what they were when I was a teenager.

I can only hope that my final stand will make an impression. That if you hear of it on the news networks you will understand that it was not simply another act by a delusional wife who refuses to move on. Laugh at my style of writing, tell me again that my refusal to use modern parlance is crazy, but never forget your father, no matter what they tell you.

Adrienne stopped and looked down at her careful handwriting. A faint taste of iron washed across her tongue as she licked the spot where she had gnawed at her lip.

There was so much more she wanted to put in the letter, but no time, so she signed it and slipped it into the tamper proof envelope. It was possible that the delivery would be intercepted, but since messaging systems had finally done away with the postal services across the world, couriers were the only physical option.

“Thank you. I’ll make sure this is picked up in the next ten minutes.” The man at the desk gave her a flash of perfect teeth as he took the letter from her. “Is there anything else I can do for you? Do you want me to let you know in the future about offers we have on?”

Adrienne tried to return the smile but it came out as a grimace. “No, thank you. I’m … err … going away so won’t need anything else.”

“Oh, anywhere nice?”

“Yes, somewhere no one can watch me.” The words came out quickly, tainted with anger and sadness. Adrienne looked down and gathered herself. “Sorry,” she said, raising her eyes to meet those of the young man, “it’s been a long week. I need a break.”

Before anything else could slip out Adrienne turned and walked to the door. As it opened she pulled her coat tight. The chemicals flowing in her blood had started to mix into their explosive cocktail creating tiny shivers that ran through her muscles.

—————

10 December 2010
In France hairdressers turned off radios in their salons to highlight what they feel is an unfair increase of a tax on playing music. The French public were also urged to draw chunks of money so that pressure was put on the banking system. In the UK students held demonstrations and sit-ins to protest against the increase in university fees.

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