Lena relaxed on the comfortable chair of the private plane stretching her long legs and taking off the purple Loubotin high heels. The flight from Chicago to New York took just 40 minutes since Bionica let out a new model of planes on the market. Ninety per cent of shares in the company was owned by Lena’s family and her cousins, ten per cent was sold to the state which was the only and the best way to make exclusive deals with overseas companies. Bionica was the biggest enterprise worldwide prevailing in inventing and selling new technologies starting from holographic phones and accessories and ending in military aircrafts. It was the first company ever which started producing servers in the size of lipstick, portable, light and wireless-something unimaginable just ten years ago. Bionica was supporting hundreds of charity foundations with billions of dollars building roads, schools and hospitals in middle Africa. Only few people knew that choosing Kongo as the main beneficiary of Bionica was not a coincidence and almost everyone already forgot about the famous tragic accident which happened just 20 years ago in the diamond mine near Kisangani where nine hundred workers were buried alive and none of them was saved. Thanks to skillful lawyers and diplomatic spokesmen, Bionica was never related to this tragedy even though it was the director´s decision to support the walls with cheaper wooden constructions than the iron ones. The families of victims were never paid any compensations because this, according to the lawyers, could only prove the company’s guiltiness. Most of them were left impecunious, starving to death or dying in extreme poverty. Bionica gradually withdrew from the diamond business. Kisangani became a taboo word in Lena’s family and there was a silent deal among all members not to buy or wear any diamonds since then. Lena opened her laptop and looked at the figures. The company’s shares had been raising rapidly for two years and she was satisfied with the empire built by her father. At the age of 38, she was one of the richest woman in America. She loved looking at the holographic screen and watching as the income grew each month. She was a workaholic, she never had to work for money, she always worked for the fame which new inventions was giving her. “Technology is our future, our only God” stated their new slogan. She snapped her fingers closing the holograms and pressed the button on her chair. A handsome steward appeared noiselessly bringing a glass of rose champagne with white strawberries. Bionica produced them in all possible colors, even in black. Strawberries should look elegant and red was just out of fashion nowadays. Lena raised an impeccably polished glass and reclined it to admire hundreds of small golden creatures the size of pinheads swimming in champagne. Dazzling in the sun rays, what at first seemed to be just warms, were in fact genetically modified miniature butterflies whose golden color and moves were supposed to add visual effects to the drink while their wings gave a pleasant tickling in the throat with every sip. The lives of these little creatures were only meant for the beauty of the moment and always ended up in the stomach of some rich millionaire. One hundred thousand dollars per glass was an extravagance that only the chosen ones could afford. Lena closed her eyes. With every sip she felt the astonishing touch of microscopic butterflies wings fighting for the last moments of their life before they would be digested by stomach acids. -In 5 minutes, we approach to landing, miss- the pilot’s voice announced in the tone of routine and calamity. She looked over the window to admire the famous Manhattan bridge hanging majestically over the Hudson river. The skyscrapers on the shores were proudly looking at their own reflection in the water, displaying the same narcissistic features as the citizens of The Big Apple. Every little street, shop, tree or house in Manhattan were screaming ‘Come and lay your eyes upon me, come and you will never walk by indifferently. Fall in love with my charm. Have the courage to fight for Your dreams’ as if anyone could become a millionaire just by looking at its glare. She had so many memories from all these different places. That day when she went with Jim to The Grand Terminal and he showed her the Whispering Gallery, she was born in NJ and yet no member of her family was romantic enough to take her there. Such was her surprise when her fiance told her to stand under one of the arches press her ear to the wall and listen while he went to the diagonal one and whispered from the distance. Such happiness and excitement mixed with surprise she felt when she heard his voice from the wall proposing to her, even though it seemed impossible to hear it from that far away. The architect must have been a genius, building the archways in a way that they could telegraph whispers murmured from diagonal sides. Their wedding was the biggest event in NJ. Everyone knew about it from press and television announcements. Everyone who could benefit from the company both financially or politically or just with their mere presence were officially invited. Lena was delighted and she spent all the evening talking to the mayor, senators and her influential friends. It was not just a wedding, it was a business enterprise after which Lena felt more tired than after a whole week of work. They spent their honeymoon in Fiji, one of which islands her company owned. Two whole months together on a desert island, where the sounds of crashing waves and singing birds allowed them to be soaked up in blissful silence and unawareness that the rest of the world has ever existed. Nine months later she gave birth to their son, a beautiful blonde blue eyed angel who was now seven years old. Each time she had to go to Chicago to inform the journalists about the latest discoveries of Bionica, she missed him more and each time she came back she couldn’t resist the impression that the boy was more attached to Jim than he was to her. -He is becoming a real men now, my sweetness, he needs his fathers’ attention more than ever now- Jim always knew how to appease her concerns. She couldn’t have dreamt of a better husband. Always caring and catering for her needs, so patient wherever she needed it, decisive when she had no more energy left, comforting when she had her bad days. He seemed to be the best medicine for her nerves, for her moods and for all ups and downs she was going through during her career in Bionica. His deep blue eyes, tall fine figure, high cheekbones perfectly corresponding with the low pleasant tone of his voice and intelligent repartees caught the eyes of almost every woman around and yet he never was interested in anyone but her, always placing her in the middle of his attention, always holding her hand or gently kissing her cheek, letting others understand that she belonged to him and that she was the most important element of his life, the small fraction of his soul without which he would never be able to exist.
The plane landed on time and Lena was now holding Jim junior in her arms, sitting calmly on the couch in front of the big swimming pool. The surface of blue water reflected the view of a white bricked mansion with immense windows which let in the summer sun rays. Huge crystal lamps inside rich interiors of the house caught the lights and painted rainbow shades on white tall walls. “When is your father coming back?” she asked her son surprised that Jim was not waiting for her as usual. “Dad said that he had to go to The Congo for a few days, he should be here tomorrow.” Lena frowned scratching her temple “ Why would he go there?” She asked more to herself than to her little son. Jim junior just shrugged his tiny arms “He said it’s a surprise” the kid muttered and ran to the pool, jumping into pleasingly cold waters.
Next day Jim was back greeting his wife with a wide smile and always opened arms ‘The house always seems so empty without you, my love’ He grinned kissing her deeply on the lips. She closed her eyes and entwined her long fingers to his blonde hair, satisfied and happy he was there. ‘Jim junior said You had a surprise for me darling’. Jim smiled enigmatically with a sparkle in his eyes taking out a small wooden box with a golden lock. ‘It’s not Christmas yet but I thought it would be nice to greet you once with something more than a smile’ he said handing her the box. Lena opened it rapidly like an impatient child opens a chocolate or candy. Her face turned pale, her lips curled into a grimace which she was trying to hide very clumsily. ‘I….it’s beautiful but…’ she frowned and raised her brown eyes deeply concerned. ‘What? What about it? I thought that, as you are my greatest treasure, it would be the best way to express it, but if you don’t like it I can just sell it on an auction’ Lena observed the sad disappointment on her husband’s face; he was still holding the precious pink diamond, one of the most expensive stones on the gemstone market. She was trembling, which made her seem awkward, in spite of her futile attempts to display satisfaction. ‘I’ve never received anything more beautiful than this, darling. I will wear it proudly on my finger thinking of you whenever I look at it.’ She kissed him nervously, quickly locking the diamond inside the box. Jim smiled boyishly and wiped the sweat from his forehead ‘Uff…for a moment I thought you wouldn’t like it and that my long travel to The Congo was in vain,’ he said pouring, himself a drink from a mini bar beside the sun bed. ‘So …that was the reason of your trip? How did you find it? It’s very rare and extremely expensive, I assume’ Lena was now looking at the distance as if she wanted to bury her thoughts inside one of the skyscrapers. ‘Oh well…I have my sources darling, besides, for your satisfaction I could travel at the end of the world’ he chuckled and pressed her cheek to his chest placing his big hands on her hips.
Lena was sitting in their bedroom looking anxiously at the little box. She hadn’t opened it since that morning when Jim handed her over the diamond. He was so blissfully unaware of the unwritten agreement in her family. No member had ever owned or carried a diamond since the tragic event in the mining. She sighed and shook her head ‘It’s just a stupid superstition; after all, nothing bad has happened since then and the agreement has been only made out of respect for the deceased workers many years ago. Who would remember about it now, it was just a tragic accident, nobody’s fault. All big companies have to make serious decisions on a daily basis and no one asks about the effects it has on the ordinary people on the inferior workers. Life is a struggle and shit happens.’ She poured herself a drink and let the alcohol soothe and calm her senses. Jim had never been informed about the stupid superstition in their family and even now she decided just to let it go and remain silent. She was a scientist as well as her husband. She was reasonable enough to keep these kinds of secrets to herself. Jim knew that Bionica had a clear history without visible failures or mistakes and she wouldn’t change this knowledge.
One month later Lena was driving happily in her Porsche across the seaside. On her finger, the huge pink diamond glistening in the sun. She relished the wind in her hair, the weather was surprisingly warm for this season. Autumn leaves were already falling on the ground, tailoring colorful scarves for the cottage paths and city roads. Lena was heading north to her new house designed by one of the most talented architects in NJ city. She opened the big white gate and drove into the courtyard. The house was beautiful, but empty and yet Lena couldn’t remember what it was missing. She stepped on the top floor stretching her slim body on the hammock, snapping her fingers for a butterfly drink she received four minutes later. Everything was perfect, the weather, taste of alcohol, the house…not a single stain or failure which could spoil this perfection and yet it lacked something…she knew something was wrong, but no matter how hard she tried she couldn’t remember. She took a deep breath and asked one of the stuff working in her new house for a massage. The touch of warm oil made her muscles relaxed and her mind faded away…everything was so perfect so comforting. She fell asleep after a few minutes.
She woke up lying on her back, looking at the white ceiling of NJ hospital in Manhattan. She could only open one eye; the rest of her body was paralyzed. She couldn’t move; she didn’t feel her feet, her legs or her arms. She tried to say something but her efforts seemed futile; no words ever came out of her lips. She slightly moved the healthy eyeball to see the figure of a nurse holding a cyber helmet. Behind the nurse there was a big poster on the wall with Bionica’s latest advertisement. ‘Cyber reality. Paralyzed? Don’t worry, now you can live your live as if nothing happened, live your dreams in the cyber world for only 5 000 dollars per month’ Lena felt breathless, she started choking with her own saliva, the nurse inserted a tube pipe inside her throat. “Calm down maam, it’s an ordinary feeling, each time you leave the cyber reality you go through the shock but it will be better in a few minutes, calm down’ she said stroking her cheek gently, explaining in a bit dull tone of voice as if she had made it hundreds times before ‘ You had a car accident, you are paralyzed from neck to toes. Your vocal tracks have been injured as well. You cannot move or speak, but you can still communicate with the blinks of your healthy eye. The number of blinks informs us about the letter of the alphabet. It’s pretty time consuming, I know, but you´ll get use to it’ she smiled soothingly as if she was informing her about a little bruise. Lena blinked, not to give out a particular message bu from shear disbelief. It was just a nightmare, it couldn’t have been her lying on this bed, she will wake up soon, she will run and speak and kiss her little son again…her son!’ The nurse saw the unbearable fear in Lena’s nervous blinks and she explained further ‘Your husband and son are healthy, they didn’t participate in the accident’. Lena closed her eye, did she feel a relief now? No she was too scared to feel anything. She looked at the nurse once again and directed her eyeball to the cyber helmet. The nurse was understanding and a smart one ‘You are able to use it just once a week maam; otherwise it could destroy your brain; the effects havn’t been measured yet,’ she said and left the room leaving Lena in the stiff suit of her misery and helplessness. Lena looked at the clock above the doors. Half past five. Ten thousand minutes and eighty seconds to the next cyber session. She started counting now.
Behind the glass window stood Lena’s husband holding their son´s little hand. The ginger haired black woman approached them and handed the kid a few dollars ‘go and buy yourself vanilla ice cream I need a word with your dad’. The boy shook his head in a way of grimace, but Jim sent him away ‘Give us 10 minutes my boy’ he said in the stern tone of voice. Once the boy was gone he turned to the black woman’ You were right, it worked. I never believed in Voodoo or black magic as a man of science but it really worked’ he said trying to hide the expression of immense satisfaction on his face ‘ Now the fortune belongs to me, the career in Bionica, all decisions, houses, no need to listen to this pigheaded spoiled and selfish woman…I will decide about the future of my son, I am the lord of my own fate now, after all these years of commitment, underestimation’ he smiled evilly. ‘Be careful senior’ answered the black woman ‘My father also thought he was the lord of his own fate and yet when he died in the Kinsangani mine, he left our family with no means of life’ Jim looked at the now grown up woman, she must have been no more than a four-year-old girl when she lost her father in the Kinsangani diamond mine.‘Don’t worry Bionica will pay all the overdue debts now, I will make sure you receive the money and all compensations- said Jim looking with sympathy at the woman. The black lady smiled ruefully ‘I bet you do senior, I bet you do, but don’t forget that vengeance is sweet at the moment it´s had, but it turns bitter after a while.’ She left Jim buried deep in his thoughts yet with a never fading smile of satisfaction on his handsome face.