Not surprisingly, within two years at Code Kft, Àgnes had moved up from trainee to junior analyst, to manager, to senior manager. And finally, to Human Resources Director.
It had been two years of suffering and dramatic revelations. The 12 working hours were the best moments of each day.
Soon after Àgnes finished university, her mother became ill. Her doctor optimistically* gave her a few months to live. Which realistically turned out to be only a few weeks.
After seeing that her daughter was trained for adult life, it was as if she had fulfilled her last mission as a mother, and could leave this world with no regret.
Àgnes was still trying to get used to the unbearable silent moments around the small dining table where she would start and finish her days with her father.
One Saturday morning, while laying out the special breakfast**, — a meal that had been served for more than 20 years in that house — something made time snap.
Her father momentarily looked up from reading the Hungarian sports section, and simply told her that it might be better if she found an apartment to live in.
* Optimism – the temperament for facing things in a positive way and always expecting a favourable ending, even in very difficult situations. It is the opposite of pessimism. The opposition between optimism and pessimism is presented below with the “glass dilemma”: if it is filled with water until half its capacity, an optimist is expected to say that it is “half full” and a pessimist will see a “half empty” glass. ** Villásreggeli – literally breakfast with fork is a more luxurious, big breakfast served on special occasions or holidays. Often guests are invited. Devilled eggs, cold steak, cold salads, salmon-omelette, pancakes, körözött, caviar, foie gras, fruit salads, compote, fruit yogurts, fruit juices, champagne and pastries, cakes and cookies may be served.
At the beginning of the following week, she would move to the apartment of an old family friend who, even before they finished the omelettes Àgnes had prepared, would be promoted to the new Mrs Szement or hölgy Szement, if you prefer.
Àgnes imagined taking the knife* lying on top of the kitchen counter, and with a swiftness worthy of the best secret agents of the former Eastern Block, she choreographed an end to that conversation.
A move so swift, so fierce, that her father would have no notion of what had happened to him. The knife’s point inserted into the carotid. Stopping only stopping when it went into the artery up to the hilt.
Àgnes had kept precise memories from the first aid classes, mandatory for all levels of education.
If the aorta is ruptured, three heartbeats. If the carotid is ruptured maybe two minutes. If the femoral artery is ruptured, perhaps five minutes.
The time differences lie in the fact that the carotid and the femoral arteries may be controlled with appropriate treatment. A ruptured aorta has no possible treatment.
The kettle started to whistle indicating the water was boiling. After asking her father which tea he wanted, Àgnes told him she would rent a house on Monday and be out of the apartment by the end of the week.
Deep down, Àgnes knew her father had just done her a favour. 20 years late.
After that morning she started to breathe again. Imagining that knife in her hand had given Àgnes the freedom to live in the way she had always wanted. Following her heart, not only her head.
Her life had just gained a second opportunity. A second start, just like in a track race.
Àgnes was deliriously happy at the idea of finally being able to make decisions concerning her life, of being able to want things just for herself.
She understood that her brain had the ability to imagine powerful things. Things that someone at her side would be terrified hearing Àgnes whisper to them.
When she entered her room, she placed some cardboard boxes on the bed to start organizing for her departure. Looking around Àgnes saw notebooks and schoolbooks scattered on the shelves that filled the walls of her room.
After some minutes, the one thing that drew her attention was the last certificate she had obtained. It was at once both a summing up and the crowning achievement of her 25 years.
She took it from the wall, picked up her suitcase and went downstairs. Then she left without saying a word.
Outside, looking up to the second floor balcony, Àgnes swore that another Àgnes had just died. She would be buried close to her mother’s grave.
Walking away Àgnes also swore she would never again return.
*Culinary knives - Kitchen knives are used for the purpose of the so-called "découpage", that is, to carve, cut, or slice meats, birds or fish, a task often performed in the dining rooms of the most sophisticated restaurants at the diners’ table. The best quality utensils are knives with a synthetic handle and a stainless steel and chrome-molybdenum alloy blade.