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Freedom has its Price
Jamaica Ann looked bleakly about the small room; it was dimly lit by the last candle in her possession. The room was slowly growing darker as the flame dwindled in size, slowly growing smaller. In the shadows Jamaica could barely make out her mother who lay on the small couch. Even asleep her mother’s face was creased with unceasing worry.
And Jamaica understood why. Their food supply, like their candle, was dwindling. They had maybe a day or so left. And when the food supply got low, it meant her mother had to go up there.
Jamaica sighed; she hated the fact that her mother had to go, because it meant hours of nonstop worry. Hours of wondering if her mother would make it back alive. Her father and brother had been taken while up there. Mother had told her everything. She said the government had turned on them, and that they had to hide. But father had gotten tired of it, and he had gone up there, and taken Jamaica’s brother with him. Jamaica was too young to remember it well, but she did remember the worry that was among them even then.
She looked about her. She would have to wake mother eventually before the candle went completely out. If it went completely out, they wouldn’t be able to find the keys to open the locks on the door. She carefully made her way over to the sofa. “Mother.” Jamaica spoke softly gently touching her arm. “Mother.” Jamaica said again touching her mother a little harder. Her mother sat up with a bolt.
“What! What is it!” She said in a loud whisper.
“Mother the candle is almost out.” Jamaica spoke also whispering. Her mother looked about her at the room.
“And the food?”
Her mother looked at her nervously.
“Then I suppose it’s time again isn’t it.” Mother sighed. “I’ll get the keys, close your eyes.” Jamaica went to the corner and stood with her face against the wall. For her own good she was never supposed to see the key that opened the chest. She was never to look in the chest either. Mother said that if she did the government might find her and force her to open it. And then they would both be in grave danger.
And although Jamaica always listened to her mother, this was the one thing that they disagreed on. Jamaica believed that she was old enough now to keep whatever secret lay inside it. Besides, the government wouldn’t be able to get in their room it had 7 locks on the door. And the door was never left unlocked except for when mother went out. And even then mother locked the upper door. So that the government couldn’t get in without mother’s key.
Mother went to the door and unlocked it she began to step into the stairway, it was far too bright and Jamaica shielded her eyes. “Jamaica, I’ll get you some more drawing pads and colored pencils.” Her mother whispered. “Check the clock every so often. I’ll be back within three hours. Jamaica nodded her head as the door closed, and her mother left.
Jamaica sat down on the sofa and stared at the dwindling candle. She sat there for a while just staring and staring, checking the little battery powered clock that sat on the table. It had only been three minutes but it felt like a millennium.
She stood up and started pacing. Back and forth, back and forth, back and “OW!” Jamaica had tripped over a loose end of the carpet. But that was strange, why should the carpet be loose? She sat up and felt underneath the carpet. Her hand hit something metal. The key! She went over to the chest and stopped. Was she really ready to open it? Could she really do it? She felt so guilty but she just had to know what was so important that she couldn’t see. She had been in this room for 14 years. 14 years of never seeing anyone or anything. Never knowing anything but what she read in the few books her mother kept. Never knowing… never knowing. This was it!
She tremblingly put the key in the little hole and opened the chest. Inside were hundreds of little notebooks with dates on them. She pulled out one of them and began to read.
Today was unbearable, Jamaica cried for hours asking for her father and Tommy. How could I tell her that they weren’t coming back? How could I begin to explain that her father didn’t want us?
I’m sorry I haven’t written in a few days, Jamaica was asking to go outside. I told her I couldn’t let her or she would be killed like her father and brother. I didn’t mean to lie, but I couldn’t let her go out, she’ll forget me the instant she sees the outside world…
Shell-shocked Jamaica put that one down and pulled out another.
Jamaica asked today if I would take her with me to find the food and candles. I told her no because it was too risky. I think she would try to leave if she knew she could. I told her there’s another door I lock when I leave so that she’s safe. She hasn’t realized it’s to keep her in. If there were such a door I’d be thankful.
Ten notebooks later Jamaica found the most recent one.
I’m so afraid, the supply is low and I must go outside. The world has changed so since her father was killed, I read back in my earlier entries and found that I spoke of him not being killed. I’m afraid I’m going insane. What if he wasn’t? What if I believe in my own lies?
Or what if the government planted those in my handwriting? How could they have gotten in? When could they have gotten in? I’m so afraid. What if they take Jamaica?
Jamaica put down the last notebook. Seventeen years old, fourteen of those years spent in a prison. And for what? Nothing! She burnt with rage. How could her mother do this to her! Well, she wouldn’t do this anymore. Jamaica ran to the door and opened it. She stepped out and ran up the stair and into a room she had never seen before. She wondered around until she found the front door, and opened it. She looked out and stepped into a field of green grass. The bright light burned her eyes badly and she blinked until her vision cleared. She had never imagined the outside world was so beautiful. She twirled around free at last.
She never saw the sniper.