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The Freedom Diary
“What do you mean leave? Sky, there isn’t anything left outside of here, don’t act crazy,” Kari said. This was so like her, even before we were taken to the camps she didn’t see anything she didn’t want to. Of course it would be easier to spend the rest of our lives down here, where everything is handed to us, but I know there’s more outside of this place. And she knows it to, if she would stop being so difficult.
“You remember; I know you do! When the officials gave us the tattoos when we first came here, you were whispering about how you wished your mother would hold your hand like she did when you had to get shots. When we were first locked in our units, you told Lucy Willis you missed the natural light from the sun coming in through a window. Remember how nice it was to be outside?” I hoped my words could somehow cut into the walls she built up, but she just continued to stare at me with that blank expression like I really was going insane.
Exasperated, I sat on the cement floor of our unit. Unit547, like every other of the thousand units, held five people, five beds, and one luxury item per person. My item is a diary. I’ve made sure to document every event of my stay. From the very first day of our underground place the officials force us to call home, through every day of my job (an assembler, quite a good job compared to that of the butcher in my opinion, not that I got a choice), to today the day I’ll finally escape.
I think back to that October day. The leaves were just beginning to fall, and for the first day since spring I could feel a cool breeze tickling my skin. Dad had just left to join the war, leaving nothing for my mother and me to do but anxiously watch the news. They were talking about the US’s decision to bring nuclear power to World War III. The debates and analysis were endless. Being twelve, I didn’t understand the arguments; I just wanted to know when Daddy was coming home. Then the screen went black, and came back on a second later all slanted and fuzzy. To this day, three years later, I can still hear the bleak voice of the reporter saying, “Its over, they’re coming. Don’t let them-,” but that was I all I heard because then the television, the lights, the entire country’s power went black.
My mother’s scream was cut off by three men in grey suits breaking our door down and running into our living room with flashlights. “Residents of 384 Blue Street, Laura and Sky Taylor?” one demanded.
Mom managed a nod and the men proceeded to grab us and drag us from our home to the chaotic street outside. I heard screaming, gunfire, children crying. I saw my home being burned, people crushed by fleeing cars, this place I grew up in being destroyed.
We were shoved into black cars with tinted windows and the car began to move. “Where are you taking us?” my mother screamed at the men. They didn’t answer and eventually she gave up and put her arms around me the rest of the four hour drive with me crying into her shoulder.
Our vehicle came to an abrupt halt, and once again we were yanked roughly out. I was too scared to open my eyes and was blindly led away from the car until mom was taken away. I opened my eyes to see a high barb wire fence surrounding us but there were no buildings, just an enormous group of people. Mom was being pulled away to a table near the one I was being led to. We were each given shots before joining the rest of the people. There were men, women, children, teenagers. They all looked just as scared as I felt.
Then we were led down a hole in the ground with a narrow spiral staircase. As we went down I tried to hold my mother’s hand for comfort, but she took it away and looked at me oddly, like I was a stranger. Then I saw everyone else’s fears vanish from their face. It was like they understood everything now, as if I was the only one in the dark.
After I screamed through being tattooed my number, 2725, on my neck, males were sent to the east wing, females to the west. I am the forty-seventh unit of the fifth floor. Cement walls, grey bedding, grey uniforms, I felt like a criminal. I was so happy to see Lucy, though we never really got along, I knew her from school.
My mother was put twelve units away from me, but she never remembered me. No one remembered anything except me, Lucy, and my escape partners, Kyle and Lettie.
Lucy may find comfort in listening to the officials telling us we are safe and not having to worry about the madness going on above us. But I remember the color of all the beautiful things outside. I remember feeling the warmth of the sun beat down on me as I swam at the beach with my parents. I remember what it was like to be free, and that is why I am getting out of here. Tonight.