Meanwhile, Luna had already started dating the man she was expected by her family to marry. He was a gentle and caring man from an astounding family, yet still irrevocably empty. Luna knew that he would a fine empty husband with which to have her four beautiful empty children (that she was assigned by the plan) in their perfect empty house. A truly model member relationship for the the Zornkin family. Under the influence of the plan, they were chaste, but when Luna could corner him for a soulless, cold kiss, she only did so that she could close her eyes and think of Abe. More and more, Abe had become an escape for her. When her work and her life had taken everything away from her, in the dark of the night, she would retreat into the memories of that coffee shop, talking about small things with someone who all of a sudden meant everything.
The memory hadn’t faded, but it had certainly wilted with her hopes. It was like a flower kept in forgotten pages of an unfinished journal, with all of its beauty, but with no real place for it in her life. It was on another ‘just one of those days’ when Luna arrived at the orientation to greet the new batch of interns that were ultimately the cattle destined to be harvested for the gains of her family, fuel for the fire warming the pot that would boil over and end the world. She greeted them all cordially, quietly pitying them for not knowing that they were volunteering so many years of their lives and swaths of their sanity to the engine built to break the bottom of human dignity and cater to the addictions of the masses.
She’d ever expect the clean cut version of her dream being there with a roughly tied blue tie and a coffee stained manila folder. Luna thought she was having a mental break manifesting her stress onto the body of a random stranger. But when she saw a nametag saying ‘Hello, I’m: ABRAHAM’ and his face when they met eyes, an overwhelming sense of calm came over her. In that moment, it felt like somehow everything was going to be okay.
They smiled stupidly, each growing red in the face as they crossed the crowded room to meet one another. The roaring noise of stock brokers trying to prove themselves to one another and the smell of liberally applied cologne trying to overcome the stress sweat beneath it washed away. Time slowed as they drew near, and all of a sudden, they were the only ones in the room. They shook hands like strangers and felt the electricity running between their wet palms that remained clasped far beyond formality. By this time, they were old friends.
She asked how he’d been and he told her ‘busy’. She said that she imagined so. Quickly, she grew fearful that he had put himself in the firing line of her family’s soul harvesting company, so she quickly arranged that he be placed in a private office under her supervision. She knew how to pull strings gently, as not to alert the spiders. They would not have her prize.
They proceeded to work together in the office under the facade of normal business. Any amount of the time in the plan that was designated for rest and strictly necessary relaxation, Luna would spend with Abe, but in the end, he already provided that for her. It was strange how quickly they felt like they were married, but they did everything together to increase Luna’s efficiency so no one noticed her absent attention. He would cook for her and she would sleep at his place. She began taking her work home with her, so that she could continue the mandates of the plan. Much of it was done while Abe slept. They didn’t mind as long as one was there when the other woke up.
Despite how well they made it work, Abe was concerned about her secrecy with her family. She told him that he couldn’t imagine the depth of their secrets. Abe thought she was exaggerating. He begged her to focus on her work and making her family happy. He assured her that there would be time someday for them, now that they found each other again. But she knew that there would never be time, especially for them. The plan would never allow the princess in the tower to run off with a cabbage farmer.
Honestly, she wouldn’t have it any other way either. In Abe’s cramped apartment on the Lower East side, Luna’s life was becoming refreshed by its sheer reality. From the graffiti in the hallways to the cigarette burns in the carpet, the place fascinated her. Her own home operated as though everything was encased in glass. All the expensive things in her life and no one was allowed to touch them. Abe’s food was greasy and it upset her stomach, but it felt like the first thing she had ever really tasted.
Abe woke things up in her that she had never felt before. Inefficient things, like walks through the park and watching bad movies, but none of it matter because the only important thing in life was to be with him. She felt herself wanting him. Her sexual education was very limited, considering that all of her sexual experiences she would have in her life were already arranged.
She saw in her parents and relatives that without the ability to have genuine connection or love or sex, one would still feel the need for that kind of extreme stimulation. She caught her parents with many illicit substances. It was scary that they would mix alcohol and drugs with all their “prescribed medication”, but she much preferred her parents bad habits over the dark delights and vices of some of her other relatives. Torture was a choice one in which many of her family delved. The chat rooms were real. She had caught her uncles watching them.
Now that she saw the alternative, she could never imagine going back. She already knew, that she was no longer a Zornkin, and it was only a matter of time before someone found out. Despite the pressure and fear, there was a relief in that. In Abe’s arms, she decided if true evil existed (and she knew it did, because she had seen it), so should the divine. She put her faith into the idea that Abe was sent to her from God to help her escape what had become of her family. The dark forces that oversaw her family were immediately disgusted at the invocation of the Almighty in their home, but it was already too late. Luna made the decision as she walked out the door.
After dating for a year, and spending less and less time with her faux betrothed, she visited Abe’s apartment on a random Saturday evening without letting him know beforehand. She had a strange feeling that she was being followed, but she moved quickly. He answered the door in his pajamas, and was slightly embarrassed at his appearance and the state of his apartment. But that’s not what she came for. She kissed him in the doorway and pushed him in.
He wanted to say no, not because he didn’t want her warm body against his. In fact he had wanted it more than anything in the world, but he was always concerned about her dignity and the expectations of her family. That day, when he felt her warm kiss and she began taking their clothes off, he felt more comfortable with her than he had with any other person in his life. When she positioned herself over him naked on the bed, he knew the the truth: that he never truly wanted anything else in his life before he wanted her.
They exchanged their virginity with one another on that hazy Saturday evening. Their love had become sealed with their flesh. They tasted the apple, and knew the difference between good and evil and had the knowledge of God. Their covenant had been made. There was a faint wailing that was coming from somewhere in the building, but they could hear nothing in the chorus of their rapture.
She stayed that night and they practiced a couple more times. They slept a while and woke up to the sun rising and practiced again. She said that they would run away and get married. Abe couldn’t think of anything better, so he agreed. When the day had truly began, they shared a long kiss goodbye and she told him that she would grab some of her things and be back to pick him up. They would take a cab to the airport, and they would take the first plane going anywhere. Abe was nervous about it, but he trusted her.
Like he was drunk, Abe watched her in a haze walk down the hall until she disappeared down the elevator. He closed his door in a dreamy state and sighed at how perfect his life had become in that moment.
But when he turned back into his home, two pale men in black suits sat at his kitchen table. He screamed once when he saw them there, then he screamed again when he realized that instead of facial features were blurred like photographs taken in motion, even though they sat perfectly still. He grabbed an umbrella by the door, and despite them not having mouths, the men continued to smoke their cigarettes. The butts would sink into the blur and get levitate around where their mouth would be. The smoke came out with their breath like any other exhale. They were ashing in his breakfast mug next to a black suitcase on the table.
Addressing him as “Mr. Ramirez”, they told him to relax and have a seat. They said they had something very important and very urgent to speak with him about.