Heidi knows where Asta lives. She knows which bus she takes to work. Heidi lives closer to the office, in a nicer area. Heidi can walk to work—it is not very far—but she starts taking the bus as soon as Asta is released from the hospital. While she still has her leg in a cast and is limping along on her crutches. Heidi cannot even be bothered to pretend this is a coincidence. She sits down next to Asta if the seat is free. If not, she stands nearby. They talk. In a friendly, polite manner. They talk of neutral topics: the weather, clothes, the weekend’s parties. They wait. Heidi can see it in Asta; there is always that extra look. A quick toss of the head, a nervous twitch.
She is afraid. Heidi is also afraid.
But most of all she is ready to do something. Now. Soon. The sooner the better. At home she can see it when she looks in the mirror. Her cheeks have color; her eyes glow. She can feel it in her body. Her muscles are working; her heart is pumping blood through her body. Her body is a ma-chine working for this cause. It is good for the body to be a machine, bad for the brain to be one. She learned that from her parents.
Heidi is awake; she is ready. Asta will show her the way, introduce her to the others that Heidi knows are there. The group, the resistance, in whom her father placed all his trust. They will carry out the assassination. The bomb will be placed correctly this time. Heidi will do it herself if they let her.
Of course one bomb will not be enough. It will not solve all the problems. She knows very well that it will not be that easy. It will take many. Pinpricks. That was her father’s plan. The one he had developed, that Heidi and her brother were to execute. When the time was right. “Look up,” her father always said, and Heidi put her head back and looked up at the sky. “Not that high,” her father laughed. “Look at the upper floors.” Heidi did as he said, and he explained that they are always there, always on the top floor.
“When one has power, one also wants to have the best view. One can live with not being able to flaunt one’s power; one can live with having to hide one’s wealth. But no one is going to take the best view away from them. That is something that is deeply ingrained in all people; it would go against nature to let someone else have that place.”
Heidi looked at the broad windows. There were balconies in many places, and in the evenings one could see silhouettes moving behind the lowered blinds. “Blow up the highest floors; that is how one will take out the right people. Pinpricks. One at a time, like a tireless wasp. It’s a signal to them: We know that you’re there; we know what you’re doing.”
That was her father’s plan; that is Heidi’s plan.
She will tell Asta this when the time is right. When they have confidence in each other. Even if it turns out that Asta is not working together with others; even if they are the only two. In that case they will do it anyway and awaken the courage of others. She will explain to Asta how it will work. People have given up; they believe it is impossible to fight against the system. But Heidi knows she is not the only one who wants something else. She sees the same in Asta’s eyes. The resistance, the fight. They have not given up.
All the people at the top are secure in their offices. They believe they are in complete control. They created the system; they have taken everything into account. They are listening in on any-one who has the least bit of influence. They move people around; they split up families, friends. They spread rumors—false ones and true ones—and know what people choose to believe in the end. The never say anything out loud. They do not need to.
Heidi has been looking into people’s eyes for a long time. She has become so good at doing it that they seldom notice. Fast; a toss of her head, her hair distracts them. She looks into their eyes and can see in a split second whether they are still there, behind the fear. So many have been lost completely. An abyss. It is as if they have been switched off.
But she saw it immediately in Asta, the first day she was at the office. Her eyes are open. She looks back; she looks at Heidi in the same way. She evaluates. At the office they are the only ones, but on the bus or when she is walking on the street Heidi sees more such eyes. This is why Heidi knows there is hope. This is how she knows there is resistance.
The days at the office are all alike while Heidi waits for Asta to speak. Heidi is good at her job. She always arrives on time, she works in a concentrated fashion, and she accomplishes all of the tasks with which she is entrusted. Her boss is very satisfied with her. He does not conceal this. Sometimes he comes out of his office just to praise her work. He lets a comment hang in the air so everyone can hear it. “You’ll go far—your brother must be proud of you,” he will say, for example. “Just keep working like that, and they are sure to notice your contributions. With your connections, you are sure to advance.”
He always mentions her brother; he always does so demonstratively loudly. He lays a hand on her shoulder, leaves it there too long. It is ridiculous. She is an accountant. She is given numbers that she places in columns. She calculates and offsets.
Heidi wishes she would hate her work. When she enters the lobby, she finds herself looking at the glittering chandeliers and the ceiling, whose dome rises high above her. She displays her access card and smiles back at the guard by the elevator without thinking about it. She greets everyone in the elevator with her in a friendly fashion. They do not know each other, but they have in common their right of access to this building, and that is enough. She walks down the corridor and opens the door to the open cubicle area. She stands there for a moment listening to the subdued sounds of work: low telephone conversations, discreet tapping on keyboards. Everything about the room is pleasant. The lighting, the plants, the materials and colors of the furniture. It is a good room in which to work.
There is nothing wrong with her colleagues, either. Each of them is an appealing and gifted individual. Like her. They do their work; they mind their own business.
Her brother may have thought they could move away from it, start over. But they cannot. The flickering has followed them. The state of emergency. Heidi does not know how the rumors spread—they never reach her—but she can tell they know. She should be an outcast. They do not know how it is possible that she can work here. They have to make an effort. They try to be-have appropriately toward her.
Heidi goes to work and goes home. She buys groceries and cooks and eats. She watches tele-vision. She writes letters to her mother. Polite letters that reveal nothing. She gets polite letters back. No one who reads them would be able to use them as evidence of anything. Heidi even writes that she likes her job. Not every time, but occasionally. Otherwise it would arouse suspicion. She is very privileged. Many people dream of such an opportunity. She has a bright future ahead of her. She can work her way up, and she is still so young. Why should she not be happy?
Heidi goes to work every day, from early in the morning until late in the afternoon. Only Sundays are free.
But every Sunday she is picked up by her brother; they eat lunch and go for a walk.
Before she found Asta, there was nothing else in her life.
Work and Sundays.
It is difficult to hate the work when there is nothing else. It is worst when her boss comes out of his office. When Heidi can see that he is heading directly toward her desk; when she feels his hand on her shoulder.
Because it makes her glad. She feels proud.
Even though she knows that he only says it because he is afraid. Because he always repeats and underscores that she has a brother. It is him he wishes to reach. Her boss wants to protect himself against her brother. Against what should not be possible.
But now Heidi has Asta. She has found the way out for which she has been searching for so long. Together they will find others and change everything.
Blow it up from the inside as her father wanted to.