Yes, Kalenko?

Brenda was tired of saying she was sorry. Her captor was unrelenting, and she’d had enough. Starting today, she would no longer apologize for something she did not do.

“Brenda, you lazy slug! The floor is covered with footprints!” shouted Kalenko.

Brenda held her breath. She was not going to apologize, even when Kalenko had evidence on his side. This was a new day. She let out the stale air, and drew in fresh. What would Kalenko do?

“Brenda! Get over here now!”

Brenda turned away from the kitchen counter to see the alleged footprints in the foyer, the origin of Kalenko’s shouts. She knew that she had mopped all the floors earlier that day, and she felt the power of self control rising in her chest.

“Yes, Kalenko?” she asked, in her sweetest voice.

He pointed to a pattern of muddy cat paw prints.

“I’ll clean it up, right away.”

“You do that,” he grunted, and walked up the stairs.

Brenda smiled. She had met her goal. She had not apologized!

She was sorry. Sorry for a lot of things. She was sorry the neighbor’s cat had smudged her clean floor. She was sorry Kalenko had her trapped here in this isolated place. She was sorry she had disobeyed her parents, and gone out alone for a walk. She was sorry every day she woke up that the inequalities in the social structure led some people to take such dreadful actions as kidnapping. Yes, she was sorry. But that didn’t mean she had to apologize. And in this case, she wasn’t going to give anyone an excuse to think she was apologizing by even admitting she was sorry!

She felt stronger now that she had beaten down her fear. Maybe, in a few more weeks, her parents would find a way to rescue her. Of course Kalenko would never give them a clue about where she was being held, until he was sure they were bringing the ransom money. There’d be plenty of sorrow to go around. As for apologies, the ones who were really responsible were unlikely to be admitting it any time soon.

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Engineering consultant by day, science fiction writer in off hours.

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