All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
I open my eyes. Dim and quiet.
The dream I had last night thrusts upon my vision, engulfing me in the memory.
Caleb. Prison. Escape. In the dream the colors were muted and throughout I could hear what my imagination thinks moans sound like. Low and droning on and on until I beg to be able to close my ears off to the sound.
That’s something very unlike me.
Given that I’ve been deaf ever since I was less than a year old.
I remember the night so clearly. It was nearly three years ago. Caleb and I met there, at the prison. We were prisoners without a cause of being there, just orphans on the streets alone; as the bombs and explosions pulsed around us.
I ended up in a cell with Caleb. There were probably close to ninety other children in the cell with us. Crying. Sobbing. Writhing in pain from where the guards beat them. We were there for near to two weeks. The guards would spray the cell with water and we’d lick the walls and floors to stay hydrated. Other than that, we were utterly malnourished.
I met Caleb the second day. He was curled up in a corner shivering, even though the air was hot and humid from the compressed bodies. He looked so small and vulnerable, only about five at the time. I sat next to him and he looked up slowly, still shaking violently. He gazed at me with frightened eyes that seemed to seep his pain into me.
He was dying.
I looked at him, not knowing how to communicate. I wanted to help him so badly. So, the next time they hosed us with water; I cupped my hands and managed to get a bit. I held it out to him and when he saw I was offering it, he hungrily drank it all.
After a day of sitting next to him, watching him let the fever take over and claim his life, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I wasn’t going to watch this boy die.
So I started to plan. It took all my concentration because of lack of food to do so, but I managed to form an escape that I thought might just work. Now all I had to do was try to communicate to Caleb in some way.
It hammers in my head. My memory staggers.
I bay my thoughts to cease.
I pull air into my lungs and let it sit, but the racking sobs still overtake my body. Memories blaze through my mind like a wildfire.
Death. War. Hatred. Prison. Escape. Starve. Kill.
The signs for each word blast through my head, feeding the fire that’s spread to my chest, my heart. And then there I am.
Back in the prison with little Caleb looking at my hand. On it, I had just written something with a pen I was fortunate enough to have one of the guards drop.
I will help you get out.
After looking at my hand, he put his head back with eyes barely open and smiled distantly.
After a few attempts, I knew my plan would fail. But I couldn’t tell Caleb that. The little boy dying huddled in the corner deserved to be happy. Deserved to be free.
I knew it in my heart. I hadn’t felt anything in there for so long, it was almost distant. I’d been lost for so many years before.
I don’t know how, but I got the guards keys. I was leaning against the stonewall next to the rusted poles of the cell; sure I was dying myself as well. My energy had long been evaporated with the struggle of trying to get myself and Caleb to safety.
The guards came along with their hose like usual and started spraying down the cell to get rid of the filth, not even trying to miss the sickly children. I gazed up with foggy vision and there they were.
Dangling right in front of my eyes, just beyond the rusted bars of the cell. At first, I thought it wasn’t real. I was dying. Imagining it.
But I brought my shaking hands to my eyes, rubbed them and sure enough, I grasped the feeling of reality. I took in a sharp breath and crawled onto my knees, scooting closer to the bars. If I reached through, he would notice.
I looked up at his face, cold and distant. His brawny arms held the thick hose that pelted the children with ice cold water.
I knew it wouldn’t work. He would notice, and probably kill me for it. I slumped back on my legs, lost of hope.
But then something caught my eye. A girl was looking at me with wide eyes. She looked up at the man, at his keys and then back at me. I nodded my head. I think she understood my plans.
And then she opened her mouth and I could only imagine it was a lot of sound because all the kids looked up at her with their frail faces twisted a way foreign to me and the man with the hose opened his mouth too. He pierced the hose at her and the water flushed over her limb body. It crushed her thin face, but I saw her mouth open still, her face contorted in that strange way when someone screams.
I was paralyzed, unmoving from terror and alarm. But the deep want to help this girl willed inside me and I forced myself to shift.
Guard will not notice.
I crept on my hands and knees, disoriented and terrified, towards the bars. I stretched a trembling hand past the poles and carefully unhooked the keys from the man’s pants. I heaved out a breath, my face hot and slicked with sweat. My other hand shifted my weight and I desperately crawled backwards, shoving the keys into my pocket.
I commanded myself to breathe before the shudders coursed through my body.
I waited until night cooled the dense air and the crickets strung a quiet harmony in the empty spaces of air before finding Caleb. I was so startled from the experience, which made me feel almost foolish. Nothing about it was so terrifying, at least compared to other things I’ve had to go through.
Maybe each piece strung together formed a large map of dread, that my head seemed to just not be able to stop following.
When I found Caleb he was coiled up near a corner wall, in what I could only imagine was a sleep of pure exhaustion. When your body can’t fight any longer and you just let go.
I touched his thin arm gently and he stirred immediately, although very slow and groggy. At first he peered at me with blurry vision and then took me in and replaced his sleepy look with question.
I nodded my head.
He pulled closer to me and opened his mouth narrowly, trying to speak to me, but all I felt was his hot breath on my cheek. Hadn’t he wondered why I had written on my hand and not spoken? But I supposed he was so sick he must have been hallucinating things as well, forgetting what was real and what his own hazy mind’s conception on things was.
I looked at him blankly in the dim moonlight that shafted through the small open window. When his face assumed a puzzled expression I shrugged and pointed to my ears, shaking my head as well.
He, for a moment, still regarded me with a bewildered stare and then his eyes widened in realization.
I nodded my head. Yes. I am silent.
He struggled to form his thoughts next. He made weak motions with his hands and I understood a few.
Go. Unlock. Door. Now. ?
I nodded, and motioned for him to get up. But I then realized he was too frail to even stand on his own. I lifted his small body off the ground and let him lean on my side for support. We made our way around the children sleeping on the icy ground, but not before some of them awakened. When I was at the door I clumsily fumbled with the keys, trying to unlock it as quickly as I could.
Luckily, guards never patrolled the cells at night, either being too lazy or just thinking it impossible for the weak kids to escape. After I hobbled out of the cell with Caleb leaning on my right, I turned back to close the door.
There, I saw the girl that helped me, wide-awake. Her large brown eyes shown through the moonlight like a cat. I couldn’t let her die here either.
I edged the rusted cell open again and leaned Caleb against the wall before going to get the girl.
But when I got there I saw her holding a little girls hand. When I looked around in the dim light, I saw nearly half the cell was awake.