youtoepea | Teen Ink


September 5, 2014
By iamstrike BRONZE, Polson, Montana
iamstrike BRONZE, Polson, Montana
2 articles 17 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
how ignorant art thou in thy pride of wisdom

I watch from above as one by one they step up the thirteen steps to the pit of raging fire. The line extends far into the distance, the occupants, men, women and children, all carrying their most exalted possession. Some look somber, but most stare ahead, eyes dull and uncomprehending.            

            As each person steps up to the platform overlooking the torrent of flames, a man dressed in silvery grey robes speaks the same four words. “What do you offer.” It is no longer a question but an obsolete portion of the ritual.

            And they respond: “I bring that which I hold most dear in this world.” The same two lines, repeated time and time again. I find myself yearning that someone would dare disobey, that someone would open their eyes and see the injustice.

            Sometimes they bring a loaf of bread. Sometimes a ragged doll. Always something special, always something that ties them to the human world of emotion. Ceremoniously burned, the ropes binding them to hope snapped in two. Day after day they return until one day, they have nothing left to bring. Their eyes are blank; their soul is a distant memory. They hold nothing dear, they have no hope, and they are inhaling and exhaling without breathing. They are no longer human. 

            I watch from above, and unseen observer. I watch as a young child sobs over a broken trinket. I watch as he is escorted away by two guards. I hear the piercing screams of his mother. They echo hauntingly in the still air. And then I hear silence. The fire is hungry today.  I see dead people inhaling and exhaling, their eyes cold and hard as the fire licks up its meal.

            I watch as the days pass and the line dwindles. Finally there are only three humans left.  A man with a gold ring, a woman with a beautiful scarf and a teenage boy with a lock of hair.  I watch as, slowly, they each throw them into the cruel flames. I see the grief, flashing across each face, quickly replaced by a blank stare. I see that grief and I know that they will all be back tomorrow. And suddenly, I can’t take it anymore.

            I rise from my perch, the cool air meeting my stiff limbs, and descend a hidden ladder. It takes me down to the streets and I can smell the wicked scent of hopelessness. It takes me but a minute to cross the square and in no time I am staring up at the thirteen steps. To my right the last three humans watch as, without hesitation I climb up the thirteen steps.

            “What do you offer.”

            Funny. The platform looked so much solider from above. It creaks and groans as I move forward a step, the heat a palpable comfort as I finally find peace with myself. And, deviating from tradition, I reply, “The only thing that I have left.”

            I take one more step forward, and then two.  I am at the edge of the platform now, the heat searing my pale skin. Unbidden memories of a childhood far in the past spring up and I remember standing on a different sort of ledge, my brother urging me to jump into the deep blue lake. I never did.

            “Better late than never brother.” I murmured, smiling. And then I jumped.

The author's comments:

this is basically just one of those stories that jumped into my head at midnight.

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This article has 2 comments.

on Sep. 20 2014 at 4:16 pm
iamstrike BRONZE, Polson, Montana
2 articles 17 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
how ignorant art thou in thy pride of wisdom

Thank You so much! it means a lot:)

on Sep. 19 2014 at 11:04 am
AutumnMoon BRONZE, Lebanon, Maine
3 articles 0 photos 23 comments

Favorite Quote:
"We see our better selves in the eyes of those who love us." -Cassandra Clare

I thought this was wonderful! It tore at my heart (which is a good thing in this case). I would love to see more of this story, but if you want to leave it as a stand alone article, I believe that that would be perfectly fine as well. I couldn't find anything wrong with it. Great job! 5/5

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