Beneath the Smile - 13 in Beneath the Smile

  • April 15, 2021, 3:58 p.m.
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  • Public

The following days were full of both suspense and hope. All Tesla could do was hope to receive the plane ticket her aunt was sending without Nane finding out about it until she could make a run for the airport.

She felt bad for her aunt, though, because she knew that when she came to pick her up at the airport in the U.S. she would only have to watch her be hauled away moments later by the police and left to deal with the suddenness and surprise of it all. There was simply no way to warn her up front of what was to come once she arrived at the airport. If she was even lucky enough to make it there in the first place.

Tesla had considered telling her aunt about the warrant for her arrest but knew that Nane would wonder why she was bringing it up all of a sudden.

As stressed out as she was, all she could do was wait and hope for the best all the while trying to act like everything was fine.

And that Nane wouldn’t explode on her again before she could make a run for it.

Tesla hoped that she could actually enjoy the upcoming trip to Turkey. Or at least some of it. After all, it would be a new place with new things to experience. So maybe that much wouldn’t be so bad, since as unfortunate as it was, she would not be checked for outstanding warrants, extradited, or denied entry into Turkey once she arrived there.

And so she did her best not to cast any suspicion upon herself. She kept away from Nane as much as possible, and tried not to argue or disappoint her when she was given an order.

The week passed in slow motion, but finally, Tesla was wedged in between Nane and the plane’s tiny window as they headed south for Turkey. She hated to have to sit so close to the abusive woman for the few hours it took to get there. Even in bed, she could put a little space between them, but not in the air.

Then they were finally there and hurriedly checking into their hotel in Istanbul so they could freshen up and go sightseeing.

Tesla decided within less than a day that she did not like Turkey, though she tried. Sure, the weather was much nicer, and it was nice to be able to swim and kick back in shorts and sandals, but she didn’t like much else about the country. The country was so “rocky” that many of its buildings were literally chiseled out of giant rocks. The population was awfully dense, the streets and waterways were often filthy, and it just had a crowded, stuffy atmosphere that Tesla didn’t find very appealing at all. It was also uncomfortably close to Iran and Iraq.

“See why I want us to move here someday when I retire?” Nane said happily as Tesla took a bite in what was supposedly called an Adana kebap that was served on pide flatbread.

“Not really.”

Nane flashed a look of annoyance at Tesla.

Realizing that disagreeing with Nane would only get her upset, she said, “I mean, it’s nice in some ways. I like the weather.”

“You must love that we can swim and not have to wear heavy coats even though it’s still winter.”

Tesla nodded, trying not to make a face of disgust as she bit into her overly spicy food.

The rest of the week-long vacation seemed to pass in slow motion. As much as Tesla disliked Germany even more than Turkey, she couldn’t wait to return and make her grand escape, assuming nothing went wrong along the way.

“Remember, Tesla,” said Nane once their journey of chaos, shopping, swimming and spicy food finally ended and they were back in Germany. “You go out to get the mail and to do the laundry while I’m at work. Nothing more, nothing less.”

“Ok,” said Tesla.

“Ok, what?”

“Ok, Master,” Tesla said, trying to keep a pleasant voice.

She lay in bed that night, unable to sleep with her emotions churning as they were. So many what-ifs ran through her mind. What if her aunt didn’t think to book a flight during a weekday? What if Nane discovered the ticket before she could get to the airport? What if Nane caught her when she went to make her escape? What if she couldn’t steal enough change from Nane as she had been doing in order to pay for the bus fare to the airport since Nane had stopped giving her any money?

She’d been making a point of swiping a few coins here and a few coins there until she had accumulated enough for the fare. She was always careful not to take too much at once and risk Nane noticing, but was afraid she was accumulating the money too slowly at the same time.

Nane breathed soft and steady just inches away from her in the darkened room. Tesla would miss being with someone so good-looking but knew that no amount of attraction was worth the misery she was experiencing and that was only getting worse and worse by the week. Sometimes by the day.

Her aunt’s ticket was her only hope. The authorities in Munich couldn’t help her. All they would do would be to tell her to leave Nane. That would be fine too, if she had a place to go, a job she could possibly get, and a much broader knowledge of the German language.

But this wasn’t the case. And so all she had was her hope in that magical ticket. It was the only thing that could save her.

Eventually, the what-ifs that crossed her mind wore her out and she sunk down into a deep sleep.

Tesla glanced back over her shoulder as she made her escape from the apartment building.

The months of hell she’d spent with Nane were over! She was free!

She ran faster, thinking it a bit odd that there was no one out and about on the normally busy streets of Munich. It was in the middle of a workday, after all.

But where was everyone?

Determined not to let the oddness of lack of activity bother her or deter her from continuing on with her escape, she pushed on toward the bus stop. The thought of being late in getting to the airport almost sickened her.

She rounded the corner, expecting to see the familiar bus stop.


Tesla stopped dead in her tracks.

It couldn’t be. It just couldn’t be.

But it was!

Instead of coming to the bus stop, she found that somehow, she had made a loop and was back at the apartment building instead.

Tesla tried to remain calm, though her heartbeat started drumming in her chest in a way that made her dizzy. She slowly turned and surveyed her surroundings, noticing the still empty streets. Not one single person was visible anywhere. No cars drove down the street. No people sat in any of the parked cars. No pedestrians crossed the streets. No people came and went from any of the buildings.

It wasn’t just the lack of people that struck her as odd, but the lack of sound as well. There simply was no sound at all.

But how could that be? How could it be so deadly quiet in the middle of the afternoon?

Tesla practically willed herself to hear something – anything – but all remained as silent as a sensory deprivation tank. No voices could be heard. No vehicles could be heard. No birds could be heard.

The next thing she noticed as she stared in dumbstruck horror at the looming apartment building before her was the stillness in the air. Why wasn’t there even the tiniest hint of a breeze? Nothing was this still, even indoors.

Tesla glanced at the trees.

Not one single leaf stirred.

She turned and ran full speed away from the apartment building. “Hey!” she cried out. “Can anybody hear me?”

She suddenly felt foolish, remembering that few people spoke English where she was.

“Hilfe!” she shouted. “Bitte, helfen!”

She kept on running, unsure of where to go.

A blur of movement in a café window.

Tesla stopped and glanced hopefully at the café. She darted over to it and stared through the window at the darkened interior beyond, wondering if her eyes had played tricks on her. Then she pressed her face to the glass and cupped the sides of her face.

A tall woman with long dark hair sat alone at the café’s counter. Her back was facing her and the café was strangely dark, so she couldn’t see much detail.

She ran for the door, flung it open and entered the café.

A grave sense of danger suddenly overtook her much in the way it did when a wild animal knew a predator was nearby.

And then the woman spun around to face her.


“No, no, no!” Tesla screamed as she turned to flee from the café. “It can’t be! It can’t be!”

Nane rose from her stool in a flash and shot toward her.

Tesla turned, nearly slipping on the tiled floor, and ran as fast as she could. But the faster she tried to run the shorter the distance she seemed to cover.

She knew Nane would catch her if she couldn’t speed up.

“Get back here!” the mean-tempered and intimidating-looking woman shouted in her thick German accent.

Tesla suddenly felt horrible cramps in her legs and her lungs couldn’t draw in enough air.

“It’s too late, Tesla!” Nane screamed, getting closer. “There’s nowhere to run.”

Tesla collapsed on the sidewalk and succumbed to the inevitable fate that was about to close in on her.

Last updated April 17, 2021

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