The Vote

           We remember the year that Margret Heinz won. The memory refuses to be mulled in with the rest, unable to be blotted away in the unending current of identicalness, despite our desperate efforts to do just that. Forgetting makes it easier, forgetting allows us to get on with our lives, to cope with the things we have done. None of us are proud of this, but it is our way of life, entwined into our very being. It is how we survive, how we always have survived. We are what we are supposed to be, what we have to be, and we spend our whole lives trying not to disrupt this careful image we have crafted. No one wants to be the stone tossed into the glassy lake, to disrupt the serenity with coarse, unwelcome ripples.

            Some of us don't get a choice but to be this stone.

            Margret Heinz's husband had always seemed like a very nice man, certainly one of us. He would wave to you if you walked by as he watered his daffodils, say hello if you met him at the mailbox, give you a smile if you passed him on the sidewalk. Friendly enough to not be discounted, but distant enough to remain inconspicuous. He had perfected the art of complete inconspicuousness, achieved the perfect balance that all of us aspired to attain for ourselves. Though it was hardly surprising, as he was a man of some sixty years, and one does not make it that far without gaining some experience. So, as one might expect, it was a complete shock to us when Mr. Heinz suddenly disappeared without a trace.

            Government agents had been the first sign that something was wrong at the Heinz household, appearing one morning with their dark, pressed suits, eyes hidden behind black-tinted sunglasses. We pretended not to notice, went about our business like nothing was happening, but we questioned the presence of the men within the relative safety of our own minds. There were three of them, identical in every way, moving in unison as they approached the home of Mr. and Mrs. Heinz. Some of us saw Mrs. Heinz open the door, heard what the men in the suits asked. Mr. Heinz had gone missing and they were here to investigate.

            The agents entered the premises, the shocked look on Mrs. Heinz's face unable to be hidden before it was noticed. The door shut slowly behind her while we watched from the corners of our eyes as we walked our dogs or mowed our lawns. They stayed there all day, the door remaining shut and drapes folded uncharacteristically over the windows, forcing any casual look at the Heinz's house away. Eventually, late in the evening, the door opened and the agents exited, getting into their black car and driving away, disappearing like they had never been there.

The End

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