“I do not want this.”
“Why not? You have nothing, but here, we can give you everything!” Idnan exclaimed.
The girl remembered the question that she had just asked. “What exactly is a number?”
“… It is the unit used to list products,” said Carmelo. “Rumor has it that you are a commodity who is accidentally living on the street.”
“Oh, it does not matter. If she wants to be called No. 3, then that is what we shall call her.” Idnan waved her hand as if this was not something important. “No. 3, be a member of our family, the Juan family. As long as you stay here, we will give you anything.”
The girl blinked and fell silent. She finally realized what type of people they were, and what type of person she was.
The life she was living was miserable and lacking status to these people. She did not even have a real name. A sense of emptiness pained her deeply for the first time. She burst into tears, trembling uncontrollably, and wept for her ten years of ignorance.
“No,” responded Idnan as she wrapped her arms around the girl despite Carmelo attempting to stop her from doing so.
“We need you, girl.” Idnan’s hug pricked her skin like a needle, digging out a black hole that she dared not to face and filling it with warmness. Next, the sound changed, gradually becoming a distorted echo.
“If you take on… this mission… you may die…”
She could not bear to hear the rest of the sentence.
“If you cannot do it, then there is no use for you… If you… cannot do it…”
—What is more terrifying? Being abandoned again, or death?
Unable to stop her tears from falling, she grabbed Idnan tightly out of fear, using every ounce of her energy to remember the force she generated, and cried hoarsely and painfully from the depths of her soul.
—Do not leave me behind!
She jumped out of bed, screaming. She then opened her eyes, and saw her left hand helplessly reaching for the ceiling. Her tears shed reflexively and her white silk nightgown was drenched in cold sweat and glued to her body. Although it was just a dream, the sensation was remarkably real and did not go away.
She rolled over and down the soft mattresses, kneeling on the carpet gasping for breath and subsequently curling into a ball. She sobbed and tried desperately to control her emotions, scratching the carpet fiercely with her fingertips.
Idnan did everything as she promised. From that day forward, No. 3 had education, status, identity, money, food, and clothing. They gave her everything that they promised her.
It was also from that day forward that she woke up every morning in fear.