Seek Your Voice

April 4, 2008
By Maliza Esmeralda Caballero, Statesville, NC

I hugged my knees tightly to my chest and felt a wave of confusion hit me. Why was it that I was so unwanted? Why is it that no one in their right mind find it in their hearts to respect me? I live a life swathed in ominous memories, haunting me with its perilous acts of torture. I’ve experienced quite everything, neglect, betrayal, and hurt. It was so much that I would think that I have had enough, but apparently, it was just the beginning.

A few hours ago, I strolled the eerie streets of Shallow, the unfortunate town I was destined to reside on and observed its very odd characteristics. Shallow, is a town filled with psychotic maniacs and murderous men. At first glance at dawn till dusk, Shallow may seem peaceful while people are ever so ignorant to the obscenities that occur come nightfall. If you ever come across it during daytime, you will be blinded by the sight of quaint little houses with patios decorated with little plants in their cozy pots, friendly angled trees with healthy crisp leaves with boastful arrogant twigs that accompany them, and the sleek build of the concrete floor that created this godforsaken town. Seems like a perfect place to live, right? Oh, how very wrong you are.

The arrival of dusk frightens everyone, even the people who have lived here since it all began. You would assume that they would be the ones plotting the sinister acts, but newcomers are the roots of the blood stained walls of the town. Nefarious men hover above our homes, breaking down barricaded doors with their cursed fists and slaughter filled minds. There will never be a night where you won’t hear a painful shrill coming from a neighbor as they fall the next victim. You try to muster up the courage you posses to come to their rescue, but your voices are held back in the very base of your throats. You cover your ears and hope for the shrieking to cease and pray for your own fate to be granted another day.

I was a lucky one to have survived a fortunate year at Shallows without losing my dignity and common sense. Before I turned the age of sixteen, I’ve plotted ways, devised plans, to prick a hole through the bubble that consumed me in my old life in hell. I never mentioned the name of my old town, fearing that it might eventually catch up with me after a long treacherous chase. It was just a memory that I’ve forced in the back of my head and never have the desire to breathe life back in to it.

During the years that I was living in that ‘memory’ no hand touched me, no one breathed on me, and no one dared to make themselves heard in my presence. However, it was my eyes that saw. Horrific images, desperate faces, and most of all the, frightening grin that was plastered on every man’s face. I saw the very face of my very own mother as she begged him for mercy while he took her pride. Right after that bruising sight, I cleared my thoughts and stared sympathetically at my mother as her breathing subsided. I felt that there was no need to call a doctor, for she would die anyway. So there, I hid, watching. I was going to wait for the moment she drew her last breath, but the man, however, put an end to her misery with a bullet. I never heard a gunshot, nor her cry of pain, but I saw how one bullet pierced her so as it plunged inside her interfering with her death. It was very dreadful, but I knew that this was never the place for me, because I wanted more and in my right mind, I found the courage to find that path.

As I set off for Shallow, bringing with me nothing worth more than a sixpence, I eventually found a home. The house was formerly Janie’s, but she’s now somewhere rotting away, forgotten by the world. I never did, but that never did any good. How I ended up here, I had no clue, but when I took a step into the world, I found the path that guided me here. I took it as a sign and went along. The first few weeks were a sheer of pure joy, because I was able to feel and hear, but it faded as soon as it was given. After Janie left the world, I filed her in my brain along with the ‘memory’, but I brought it back a few days later so I could at least remember her friendship.

After a few months, I had learned to block out the feeling of guilt as I heard every scream and every gunshot, but I always prayed and found a way to talk to God. I had expected someone to barge in my door and kill me, but after six months nothing happened. Another six months passed, but I lived in peace. I guess I was very unappealing.

That thought went away a week later as I was strolling down the streets, a block from my house when someone grabbed me by the wrist. I couldn’t see his face, but I know that he was a big bulky man. Too big for me to fight, so I didn’t waste a breath yelping, aware of the fact that my voice won’t be heard. So the man, as mental as he is, had his way with me. He touched me in places no one had the right to. He hurt me so badly that I believe that I’ll be bruised my entire life, emotionally as well. Afterwards, he stalked off, leaving no trace of the crime he had done. Not a single drop of evidence left its mark on the world, but it sure did leave a mark on me.

So now I sit here, in present time, grieving and musing. Is it the end? Am I still worth a damn after this? I looked at the shard of broken glass on the floor of the room and glanced upon myself. Eyes red and puffy, lips bruised and swollen, runny nose, and wayward hair. Then I realized that this was not what I had planned. This is not who I am going to end up to be and I’m going to find that light that’s always lit in my heart.

As I gathered and recollected my strength I told myself, “No man can take away your dignity, only you yourself can.” That’s when the anxiety faintly died down and a provoking thought hit me. I wasn’t going to be that same old teenager who throws away her life. No, I’m going to be one of the rare few who won’t be afraid to keep on going. I’ll be the one who will live to tell, and I’m going to be the one who will always have her voice and won’t be afraid to hide it.

We have our own choices, our own rights, but it’s only our bravery and loyalty that can determine what we believe is right or wrong. We can hide, but eventually we will be found and we will always be the one who can find it in ourselves and shout. It’s never because of them that we stop, it’s always been our fault that we never did find our way back. We have our voice, all it needs is passion and determination.

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