6 - Arin Feels Defeated

“Do you want to catch up with Cyndi and Mitch at the Malee. We can play some games.” Asher said enticingly.

Arin’s eyes burned. She felt a little weak and she wasn’t sure why she felt this way when Asher asked her to go somewhere. She looked at the walls pressing down on her. With a heavy heart she said, “I need to do some work for my mother.” It was the excuse she used so often. 

“Ok,” Asher said with a smile as he tossed back his curly hair. “See you later.” 

He was always so willing to accept her excuses and take off without her. Did he care as much as he said he did, she wondered. 

“I changed my mind, Asher. Mother can wait. I’m going.” She said as she put her arm through his.

She felt less tense with an arm to guide her through the dark halls. What would she say if he actually felt her thin black Exosuit under her gray fitted long sleeve top? Maybe he would focus on her tight black leggings instead. Could she say it was a new style? Didn’t make sense. She just couldn’t think of a good reason to be wearing a suit besides the real reason. She was less than. Inferior. She needed the suit to even function in this world where everyone except her had brain enhancement. Why was she going with Asher? She felt an electric sensation through her limbs as she leaned on his tall dark frame. 

Arin wasn’t normally a risk taker. She practiced her skills in her private arena, ate by herself since her mother was rarely around, and she had no siblings. She had to get out of her prison. Maybe if she could learn to act enough like them, then she could get a job like everyone else. She needed to get better at playing games. Everyone knew that developing their enhancements through games was preparing them for work. 

As they turned the next corner, they were in the Malee. “Let’s hang out here if it’s ok with you,” Asher said with a smile. 

“Ok.” Arin said as Asher slipped out of her arm and said “hey,” to a group of friends. 

“Where is Justin?” Asher asked as he walked up to the group. 

Everyone looked at each other and Cyndi said, “He’s gone.”

“What do you mean ‘he’s gone’ asked Asher. “You didn’t see him today?”

“Cyndi is worried.” Explained Eric. “He wasn’t at work today and we haven’t seen him in a couple of days.”

Asher didn’t want to look at them. Something creepy was going on but no one wanted to talk about it. He had been noticing people not showing up at work with no explanation, but Justin was their friend. Asher wasn’t going to be the one to suggest there was a problem. He had just discovered a new world of pleasures. He wasn’t going to risk losing his job.

Arin had trouble getting the full picture of the room even with her suit. She froze like a rabbit staring at headlights and slowly scanned the room. Her suit let her zero in on one section of the room at a time. She knew her mother was part of the team that developed the brain enhancements, but then she didn’t have the time or resources to improve the suit from an older model used before the enhancements. 

Her anger burned as she stood there. Her mother gave the gift to everyone except her. The mother who said she loved her left her a cripple for life. Well, she was going to show her mother that she didn’t control all of Arin’s life. She walked over to Asher’s group of friends and gave them a big Arin smile. They each had a glass of something pale orange in their hands. 

“Let’s play a game.” Arin said as she tugged at Asher’s arm.

“I have a game in mind.” Asher insisted as he pulled her to the corner of the dark room.

Arin found herself sitting on a soft cushion as Asher started kissing her softly on her neck. Her heart pounded. She had never let anyone get this close to her. As she sunk into the softness, Asher’s mouth became harder as he pressed his lips to hers. She was breathing faster as fear gripped her at the same time she was feeling sensations through her body in places she didn’t even know existed. She liked the tingly feeling and she smiled under his mouth. 

“What’s wrong?” he asked impatiently.

“Nothing. I just felt a little funny.” 

“You’re ok?” he responded as he pressed his body tightly against hers. 

“You’re amazing!” she said softly as she held him.

Arin jerked away as Asher pulled on her blouse.

“I thought you said you were ok.”

“I feel sick. It must be the flashing lights.” She said.

Asher quickly rushed her to the door as she yelled, “I’ll be back.” 

“I’ll take you home.” He said.

“Ok.” She said and knew she was defeated.