The Decisive Straight Labyrinth

Lili Forgács

I had almost finished. Just one more question, or at most two. The middle-aged ladies who interviewed me were really nice. Both of them smiled; the blond one noted down something I said before, the other one, wearing glasses, looked at me and sipped from her mug. She was drinking coffee, I could smell it.

“Well, Ms Johnston, we are almost done,” the blondy broke the silence while organizing her papers on the desk. “Your CV sounds really appealing, you  seem to meet all the requirements, but before you get the job, you have to give an answer to this simple question: What is a straight labyrinth?” At this final part, she lifted her head and looked me in the eyes.

“A straight labyrinth?” I asked back in a shaking voice, feeling all the colour running out of my face. I knew I had broken the image, with that simple sign of desperation, I had built up so far: the ambitious and self-assured woman who can answer all the questions that are asked. Now, I was just sitting there, in front of the two nodding ladies, left speechless.

“Please, answer it now or never, we cannot sit here and wait all day,” one of them said after a few moments. I don’t know which one, I couldn’t see anything, I just felt my brain working. Come on Lydia Johnston, let’s say something clever. But I couldn’t. I started panicking. What if I ruin everything at the very end? I couldn’t stand it.

“Khm” clearing my voice is a good start I guess. “I think the straight labyrinth is nothing else but… life,” I said out loud the first thing that came into my mind. I didn’t care about the interviewers’ reaction, just continued. “At the beginning of life we all know what the end will be: death. Everybody dies, we cannot avoid or run away from it. That’s a straight road. However, none of us goes along that one. Every decision we make leads to the final destination, but on different routes. There are no alike routes, as there are no alike people. We cannot tell who is on the right way and who is not. Is there a right way or a bad way at all? Can we distinguish them? I don’t know, and I don’t know either if it counts in the end which I chose, as we all will leave the bus at the same stop. But I want to go along the labyrinth on my way. The way of which I will be proud on the day I die.”

As I finished I got no response. The two women just sat in front of me without any movement or speech. I just heard their breathings and counted mine. Maybe I was too passionate. I might have said something that I wasn’t supposed to. Or I might have misunderstood the task. I was having such thoughts when the two ladies nodded at each other and said simultaneously: “Welcome to the New York Times, Ms. Johnston.”