February 25, 2011
Wine glasses line the long white-cloth covered tables, complete with those embroidered napkins that no one ever seems to use. Champagne is served for the adults, sparkling cider for the kids. Only the brave kids drink, the others are afraid of spilling. I am suffocating from my tight dress and the heavily perfumed room. My little sister and I escape to the bathroom. Elevator music is playing. We stand alone in front of the large mirror. I admire my silky hair and new dress. It's uncomfortable but it's worth it, though when I really think about it I don't know why. Piercing cries erupt my eardrums. The mirror fogs up and red blaring lights make my eyes water. I hear a howl of despair. It shakes me and I run for the door, yanking my sister by the collar of her shirt. The doorknob burns my hand. My head is throbbing and I can barely hold my eyes open. I see my little sister's eyes, full of innocent confusion. I open the window and I jump. I land on metal fencing. My knees and hands sting. Everything stings. Nothing matters when I see my sister's face in the window. "Jump" I tell her, but my voice is hoarse and only a whisper leaves my lips. She knows. She jumps and winces at her landing, but we don't stop, we run. We run until we can see the entire building from afar. I don't want to see it so I look the other way. We sit on the sidewalk while pools of our blood fill the cracks. I never stepped on those as a kid. Now I am glad I didn't. The streets of the city are filled with cars. No one stops. No one cares. Their windows are tinted and so are their characters. Tinted with the cruelties of the world. I hold my sister close to shade her from reality. Businessmen walk by with noses up and sleeves cuffed to perfection. the people who intend to change the world cannot save us. I feel helpless. We walk aimlessly down the streets. On our way we pass a prison. Prisoners in orange rags are on the sidewalk, getting their small moment of fresh air, surrounded by guards dressed in sharp blue coats. The sea of orange parts as we walk through. These are not people. Their eyes float to the back of their heads or are glazed over with years of nothingness. They are motionless except for the occasional raspy cough. They do not attempt to cover their mouths. They are forced to repeat the word prisoner, over and over. They say it quietly, helplessly, in a voice so dismal it could steal the sun. I don't think they need to be reminded of who they are. The walk would never end. The perfect unison of the word haunted me. Prisoner, prisoner, prisoner. Over and over. We hurried through and ducked into the first building we could find, a mini-mart.I motioned for my sister to sit with me on the spinny bar seats. Another young girl was sitting opposite my sister, wearing too-short ripped jeans and a haircut that almost covered her eyes. I watched as she pulled out a beat-up flip phone and asked if I could use it to call my mom. She told me I would have to pay her five dollars. I offered her a ten. She told us that she was going to buy food first. She threw a bag of cheetos and a pack of gum onto the counter. The checkout lady did not look like much of a lady. She had a manly build and earrings in places I did not know I had skin. "Where did you get the money?" she asked in a voice so hard it felt like a slap in the face, "You have been begging me for food all day." The girl's face fell. I do not think she wanted us to know that."From them," she said and pointed to us, her voice as straight as stone. The checkout lady pressed a large, red button behind her desk and grabbed the girl tightly by her wrists. The button made a buzzing noise that rang in my ears for hours after. In what felt like seconds, three policemen stormed the mart, heading straight for the girl. I could do nothing but watch and squeeze my sister's hand. One grabbed the girl while the other two fastened her squirming hands into large handcuffs. "She mugged these girls," the checkout lady said. I watched the girl's eyes beg me to say something as she was dragged out the door. I was silent. I heard the car door slam.

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