Přečtěte si vítěznou povídku s názvem It’s a Small World mladé autorky Šárky Zouzalíkové. Tento text uspěl v soutěži National Literary Award for Young Writers v kategorii do 19 let, kterou podporují Lidové noviny.
Yeah, this is exactly what I’ve been missing in my life, I thought. A little action to get my blood flowing. The futile effort to get out of the bonds was only making the cut-off circulation in my arms worse and the dehydration was making me light-headed.
And I have my brother-in-law to thank for that, I thought darkly. Oh, Jake. You need to stop moping around and have a little fun. I remembered the infuriating words that had made me accept the assignment in the first place. Anything to get away from my nosey matchmaker of a brother-in-law. Couldn’t he understand that I didn’t want to get over Serena? How I hated that guy.
I’d been sitting tied to the damned chair ever since I’d told my boss – now ex-boss – that Serena West was still alive... and likely to stay that way for a long time. Yep, you just didn’t say that to the most wanted criminal in the country unless you had a death wish.
Not that I suffered from any suicidal tendencies. I just hated being told what to do. That and I didn’t actually care what my “boss” wanted. My job as an under-cover agent was to find as much incriminating evidence as I could and get out before they asked me to do something my morals wouldn’t allow. Such as killing Serena in cold blood.
Not that I’d never killed anyone in my life but those people had had it coming. Serena, on the other hand, was a complete innocent. Her only crime was that her jerk of a father had made some very powerful enemies.
What made the whole situation even more messed up was that I happened to know Serena. We’d actually dated for a while but she’d broken it off after five months. Too many secrets, she had said. I found that hilarious considering she’d told me her father was dead. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one with secrets. Now I had to wonder whether she’d hoped to protect me by leaving me. She had some dangerous people gunning for her.
Suddenly, I heard a noise coming from behind the closed door and I prepared himself for the worst – a bullet in the brain. Mr Black as the crime lord called himself had no clue who I was so he had no reason to torture me for information. He just considered me a spineless coward who didn’t have the guts to do the job.
As the door opened, I started to pray – a clear proof I was in real trouble – but instead of the voice of one of Mr Black’s lackeys, my partner’s baritone whispered in my ear. “Are you all right?”
Oh, Tom, how I love you. I gave an affirmative grunt through the duct tape covering my mouth and Tom ripped it off in one swift motion. I cursed like a sailor and glared at him as he proceeded to cut through my bonds. He could have been a little more gentle!
“Ready to save the damsel in distress?” he asked me as he helped me up.
He had no idea.
We crept up to the mansion Serena called her home – a house so big my entire flat could have fit into her bathroom – and listened for signs of intruders. It was obvious someone had broken in from the state of the front gate which looked as if it had been blown up. Not to mention, we hadn’t been met by security guards the moment we stepped a foot inside. I knew Serena took her safety very seriously.
My partner’s tap on my shoulder pulled me out of my thoughts and I glanced where he was pointing. I could see shadows moving behind the living room curtain. I sighed in relief as I realised they were still inside.
As we finally got close to the French door leading into the living room, we could hear angry voices coming from inside. My blood froze in my veins as I recognised one of them. This particular voice had nothing to do here.
Without thinking, I peeked inside and the sight before me made me gasp loudly. The words “it’s a small world” circled in my head as I saw my brother-in-law pointing a gun at Serena. I identified the two men next to him as Mr Black’s lackeys.
At my rather loud gasp, everyone turned in my direction. I wasn’t sure who was more shocked. Me, my brother or Serena.
However, before I could make sense of any of it, I heard the explosion of a gun shot. For a moment I felt searing pain in my chest and then I knew no more.
I woke up surrounded by white. White ceiling, white floor and an annoying beeping sound next to the bed I was lying in. Bed?
I hissed in pain as I tried to move. What was I doing in a hospital?
“Jake?” the most beautiful voice I’d ever heard reached my ears just as I was starting to panic.
“Serena?” I glanced to my right and saw her sitting on a plastic chair just a few feet away from me.
She could see the confusion in my face and reached out to take my hand. She squeezed it tightly as she quickly outlined what had happened. It seemed my brother-in-law had in fact been working for Mr Black and had known what I did for a living all along. That’s why he’d tried to convince me to forget about Serena... he’d known she would be dead soon.
He was the one who had shot me and he was currently – to my great joy – rotting in jail. Apparently, I had missed a lot in the three days I’d been unconscious. My only regret was that Mr Black was still out there, watching and waiting.
“How’s my sister holding up?” I asked after she’d finished. I had always believed Darren didn’t deserve my sister but they’d always seemed so happy together. This must be tearing her apart.
“Surprisingly well,” Serena answered, stroking my hair in a soothing manner. “She says she’s suspected he was doing something illegal for a while now. It will take her some time to trust again but she’ll be okay. I think what hurts most is that he’s been keeping secrets from her.” She looked me in the eye as she said the last part.
“I’m not the only one with secrets.” I reminded her.
She nodded her head as tears welled up in her eyes. “I thought I was protecting you.” she sniffled.
I didn’t say anything. We’d both had our reasons but now we could hopefully start again... as soon as I got out of the damned hospital bed.
“Doesn’t this feel familiar to you?” I changed the subject, hoping to lighten the mood. “Me in a hospital bed, you playing nurse?”
“You have no idea how much.” she grinned as she handed me a napkin with the hospital’s name on it. Seattle Mercy Hospital, it said. I rubbed my eyes to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. There were dozens of hospitals in this city yet I just happened to be taken to this one?
I looked at Serena to see a small smile gracing her face. This was the hospital where we’d met almost a year ago. I’d been shot in the shoulder and had blindly staggered into the middle of the road. Serena had been driving to see her best friend, who lived in Seattle, and had almost hit me as I’d stumbled onto the dark road. She’d taken me to the nearest hospital – Seattle Mercy Hospital – and waited until I woke up. Once we started talking, I knew she was the one. She’d apparently agreed because she’d given me her number before leaving.
And here we were. So much had changed in the year since we’d met yet there was one thing I was absolutely positive about. She was it for me.
As I folded the napkin and put it under my pillow – I’d be taking it home as a souvenir – I wondered how the world could be so small. I’d managed to run into Serena on my job twice in one year and my hated brother-in-law just happened to work for the man who wanted her dead.
I opened my mouth to ask Serena if she believed it was just a coincidence but she kissed me on the lips before I could get a word out.
“It’s a small world.” she finally said as she pulled away to catch her breath.