… and uniforms, we all wear them. Crisp and clean, we are to look good for the camera. Look good for the public. I have to remind myself to smile and hold my back straight, to keep pretending. My gaze flickers from one person to the next, never lingering too long on those I know to be friends. Just a little while longer must we hold it together, this act of ours. Just a little while longer.
On my right side suddenly stands a woman. I know her not by name, but that matters little. She is one of us. One who has had to give up everything, had to renounce her faith and put on a mask of uniformity, just to survive.
I see her shaking. Her lips, her arms, her entire essence, trembling. There is sweat across her brow and a look of desperation in her dark brown eyes. By my side she stands, whispering with a voice muddled by tears.
“I can’t… I can’t do this…”
The chill of danger floods me. Too many around us, there are too many.
“Please don’t go without me,” she whispers. “I… I…”
Too many watching. I lean in, lower my head by hers, face to face as were we about to kiss. Shielding her expression from being seen. My upper lip grazes against hers as I whisper.
“You can do this. Breathe. Don’t think. We won’t leave you.”
Just a little while longer.