Shattered

September 11, 2010
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Soft light filtered through rectangular windows, illuminating the shadowy folds of the cavernous chamber that was my basement. The light had a sort of menacing look about it, and I instinctively shied away from it, my heartbeat thudding in my ears at the irrational fear. My consciousness blossoms into alertness, and I struggle to take in my surroundings as I pull myself out of sleep.
I have awoken from a dream I cannot recall beyond a lingering sense of fear and a sheen of sweat that is still present upon my brow. My heart pounds in my ears as my brain scrambles to recall the nightmare that flits about the edges of my mind, just beyond reach. A ringing pain awakens in the depth of my brain and I flinch away from the sensation; maybe ignorance is better after all.
I am spread-eagled on the uncovered floor and the cold is beginning to reach me, my palms slip in slide in a pool of perspiration as I shove myself off of the unforgiving ground. Now I am at a better vantage point, and, with a fully functioning brain, take in my surroundings once more. It’s not exactly as if I don’t know it, it is after all, my basement. I’ve been in here thousands of times before. Each one as uncomfortable as the last. The faint, musty odor that is reminiscent of a tomb permeates s the air, and fills my mouth, happily taking up residence just atop my tongue. I shudder slightly, disgusted. The walls, the floors, the ceiling, the space, all are bare. Nothing marks this as a place where life has dwelled besides the solitary window hung resolutely in the corner. I ignore the single exit, a door which I know to be locked.
My eyes are drawn back to the window, and though I earlier feared the light and it’s cruel, mocking promises, I move forward, pulled towards the only symbol of freedom in this shadowy prison. After millennia, I reach the wall legs nearly buckling as in my fervor; I collapse against the cool dank brick. I am possessed by an inexpressible emotion, and my body trembles in my desire for things long lost. Standing on my toes, I find that I can just reach the plane of glass that beckons me with its tempting warmth. Contrary to the rest of the basement, the window is warm and light-filled, assuring me that the reality outside is neither as bleak nor cruel as this one.
The window stirs something inside me, and I am distracted by a memory that has begun to tug incessantly from the far corners of my mind, begging for attention. The light, the window, the basement around me all slip from my vision as I am lost from reality.
I am small, but have none of the carefree happiness that comes with youth. In a room towering with bookcases I feel as if I am lost in a library built for giants. Sunlight flows freely through huge glass windows, their ledges just wide enough for me to sit in the shade of the panes and dream of flying through the perfect blue sky above me. I am flooded with warmth, and contentment seeps through my bones like a welcome stranger. The window is the edge of my world, the object of my fantasy; I have no knowledge of what lies beyond. I imagine there must be all sorts of adventures to be had with cats who wear hats, and dragons, and maybe even wizards! The only other retreat from the endless monotony world is the books that line the walls of my otherwise stark room. As I watch a bird flitter among a tree below me, I am consumed with relentless desire.
I am jerked back to the present as my knees give way, awake for mere seconds before another, stronger memory pulls me into its grasp. I am back in the window, and now the sky is a weary, troublesome grey. Thunder roars in the distance, and the first splat! of rain drops fall against my window. Nothing has separated this day from any other, and I sit, bored, in the shadow of the window that is my most beloved companion. In a moment, everything changes. I jerk around, startled by a sound that rarely comes at all, and never at this time of day. I get up, moving with slow caution, towards the mahogany door on the far side of the room. I am consumed with a fearful sort of awe, and as I approach the wooden door I become more and more anxious, wild, half caught thoughts spinning circles inside my head, screaming of traps, and tricks, and torture. But stronger than the fear is the hope, and the wonder, and half paralyzed by fear I brush my fingers across the door frame, and my heart starts to race and my fingers are trembling as I grasp the cool metal doorknob in my hands, and my brain is screaming, yelling at me to stop, to think. But my heart is stronger and it is filled with an emotion so alive it was like a fire had been lit inside my soul and I didn’t even care if I was burned alive.
I am frozen with indecision as my hand begins to turn and the fear threatens to consume me but there is the presence of something stronger, the thing that men call freedom because there is no mortal word to describe such a sensation, and I am grasping the knob with both of my hands, and I am turning it, wonder replacing fear as I watch it move under my hands, ready to enter a world that had thus been denied to me. The door swings open, and my world was unlocked.
The dream falls away and leaves reality in its place. I am no longer nine, on the verge of opening the door to freedom, heart filled with hope and head filled with dreams. I am sixteen, alone and terrified, as well as on the verge of having a mental breakdown in front of an escapeless window. There is no freedom for me, I have been defeated, in a way more thorough than I had been even then, all those years ago. I slump against the wall in the shadow of the window, not even wanting to view the world I will never reach.
I am lost, I am gone, I am nothing. I will be imprisoned for the remainder of my existence. Both my head and my heart agree this time-there will be no escape for me. A spark of anger ignites the fuel of fury I have left dormant for all these years. And I rise up, raging and wild, beating my fists against the glass that is the only way out. And I am screaming, wordless, ricocheting wails that I cannot hear as I have gone temporarily deaf against the rushing roar in my ears that seems to be coming from everywhere. IT is pounding against the door now, yelling obscenities in its desire for peace, but I ignore IT as my hands come into contact with the cool surface of the glass I impart all my desire, all my hope, all my longing for freedom onto an object that has no will and no understanding of the concept of liberty. The door to the basement unlocks, and under my hand, the glass shatters.





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