A Political Interaction

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“There are only two possibilities: yes or no”.

The simplicity of the statement felt unnatural when compared to what was being asked of her. The task at hand was monumental. It was terrifying. It challenged her morality as well as her beliefs, and yet he spoke with an easiness as if this were an everyday situation. He had shown more concern when she denied both coffee and water and even juice when first arriving at his office. Before the meeting, she had tried to predict why he had requested this meeting. Every one of her predictions had been wrong.

“It’s not as easy as that” she said slightly louder and quicker than intended. She tried not to shift her position in her seat.

“You either do this or you don’t. The choice is yours”. His tone was rational, but his eyes were hopeful. There was something else there too. A challenge. She didn’t like it.

“No one outside of this room will know what is really going on. You’ll be protected. We need you.” he assured.

She had no reason to believe he was a man of his word. She had worked with men like this long enough to know their squeaky clean, family-loving, god-fearing image was a façade; one so brilliantly constructed that the men almost believed their self-serving proclamations. His bright blue eyes, chiseled jawline and boyish hair cut appealed to the troop supporters, hockey-moms, regular Joes and most in between. He radiated charm, which helped when it came to selling ideas people didn’t like, and he spoke as if to you and you alone. She had seen this with his predecessors and she would see it again. If history had taught her anything it was that we don’t often learn from our mistakes and men like this also knew this to be fact. If he needed a scapegoat when this went south, the probability that it would be her was high. Protected. Yeah right.

He stood up and strode around his desk. Perching on his desk, directly opposite her, palms pressed against the mahogany, he narrowed his eyes and raised his head ever so slightly, considering his next move, observing her. His speaking broke her from her reverie.

“You now know something that you won’t be able to forget.”

“Excuse me?”

“Whether you agree to this or disagree, you now know what our plans are and why they are necessary, and whether you like it or not, you’re a part of them.”

She looked at him in disbelief. She hadn’t given him an answer and here he was declaring that she was playing a part when she didn’t even know if she wanted to yet. She felt ready to argue but he spoke first.

“If you say yes, you will start on a path that will change the world. If you say no, you live with the knowledge that you could have done something, and didn’t. You think that saying no means you’re not involved? Saying nothing, doing nothing, means you’ve picked a side just as much as actively picking one does and your choice, regardless of what it is, has an effect.”

They stared at each other. What he had said reminded her of that quote, something about silence and complicity. It also took her back to some science documentary she half watched whilst cooking one evening. Hadn’t it said something about changing something just by seeing something? She couldn’t remember. Waves of thoughts moved across her mind. Could she live with herself if she said ‘no’? Could she live with herself if she said ‘yes’?

She stood up from her chair. He stood from perching on his desk.

“Yes or no”.

She opened her mouth to answer.