Powerless. Powerful. What a strange thing to be bounced around. But in this dry, dusty room, everything is nailed to the floors as not to make any disturbances. The tools, obviously disposed of, are ghosts to the bloodied and blistered fingers that foolishly attempted to pry up the metal. Pondering is remotely accepted, if done in the privacy of one’s own head, but wondering is severely dangerous. Wondering leads to questions and questions lead to asking. What a vacuous thing it is, to ask a question, let alone two. What an even more vulgar deed it is to respond.
Then there’s the girl with the head of fire and the face of ice. She tries her best to tread lightly, especially on enemy ground. But the slightest wrong turn can trigger a cascading avalanche. She knows those movements that burn the sides of her cheeks, those vital motions that sweep through the room light as a feather over hearts heavy as bricks. On those rare occasions of publicity, when he wears his friendly mask, the enormity of the predicament is sometimes forgotten. But each day the tables turn. Each day, a new casualty bears all the weight, who must somehow dig their way out of the dirt long enough to manage a smile before he meets their pensive eyes. The room falls silent to the chosen victim, meek in his overbearing shadow. Why must he belittle, when he’s already so tall? Everyone wonders the same thing. Though it just takes one careless person to ignite the spark that fuels the burning flames. One brave soul to venture out into the unknown. Someone willing to risk themselves for the rest, a martyr for the lost cause.
It’s a simple one. Or so she thinks. One asked out of genuine curiosity, mixed with a little confusion. Hardly any actual content involved, but nevertheless, still an offense. He hides behind his numbers, yet never admits his own creations. She feels her face heat with red as she forbids her eyes to betray her. Her voice is small, but understandable. Shaky, but strong. His eyes lock on hers as everything ceases to exist, except the narrow space between them. The first answer in the room is the steady eyes of astonishment, then relief, and finally, those mechanical grins clouding the aftermath. Silence hangs in the air as yesterday’s victims watch the new prey get torn apart. It’s not their fault. Everyone's had their turn trapped in the animal cage. It usually only fits one person at a time. Everyone might be able to break free if all efforts were pooled and resolute hands went to work. But that’s never happened. Plus, there’s the grave possibility of full entrapment. So things stay as they are. Life goes on. However, things shift in his absence. Old war stories whispered across campfires. Tales told in laughter, anger, defiance. Then the legends die down and people return to the safety of their villages. It usually ends with stern eyes meeting the shrug of the shoulders.
The girl must do what the rest did before her. Nod along to his reasoning, and admit her erroneous utterances and wrongdoings. As he carefully explains the sheer ridiculousness of her statement, it is vital she submits to his deduction. Her survival depends on it. There have been attempted counters, presented in the most courteous of manner, but one must simply avoid the sharp blades of his logic, instead of trying to piece them together with tender hands. He so easily turns the risky questions around, asking the questioner instead of answering. He comes out of his high end burrow of authority to present evidence as to why the answer was so clearly obvious and how the person could have—should have—been able to come to their own valid conclusion using the most simplest of logic. The only thing he reveals is the absurdity of the question itself, let alone the fact that someone dared ask it. He's the beast of the room, because of where he stands and because of where she sits. Because of who he is and who she is. And no one can change that.
The holes in the walls made of clear glass offer no outside light from the cloudless day. All that can be seen is the blank canvas sky, a backdrop lit by a mythical sun. The trees, the streets, the beauty… it’s all lost to the depth of the bottomless air. All the words melt in her mind, boiling, overflowing, steaming into stark letters that strike against the inside of her skull, sticking into encrypted clumps, threatening to escape. All the water pulses through her body in monstrous riptides. All must be channeled to her careful response. The rest of her energy must be conserved for the aftermath, which takes place in a world solely her own. There’s never a full recovery, but instead a pained poker face that speaks when spoken to, laughs when the rest do, nods when looked at, and remains silent unless another permissible interaction should arise.
The referees standing on the sidelines bear no flags. Her pleading eyes have no effect. Rumors of their dismay eventually spread, regarding the previous attack. A true referee rarity. But they’re mere figureheads, cloaked in hollow reigns. So life continues. The jungle of animals continue to survive as the beasts devour their prey, ruling the land with a mighty roar. So she goes through the motions, evades his stares, befriends the wood her elbows rest on. So she speaks where sentience isn’t forbidden and people possess the powerful ability of listening.
So she writes.