"When I'd shaken the bell, my parents had not heard a sound." - Chris Van Allsburg

Monday, October 26, 2015

Where am I?

The air is stuffy in here, and the tin cans surround me up to the ceiling. Sweat drips down my forehead, and my hands feel clammy. A dim light shines through the crack between two tall shiny metal doors. Where am I? I'm just starting to wake up; I can feel the crust of my drool begin to dry no the left side of my dry lips. My eyes are swollen and burn as though I had been crying. My breath begins to pick up and I look around frantically as I register my surroundings. "Mami?!" my voice sounds like a squeak, and I remember how difficult it is to scream when I am afraid. I am not scared. I cannot be scared. I must find a way out. Mami must be waiting on me at home. I crawl about two inches and push my face up close to the tins stacked tall in front of me. The little light allows me to read "TOXIC: RED PAINT. DO NOT INJEST." A lump comes up in my throat, and my cheeks begin to burn. My eyes water over, but before a tear falls, something runs into the big white doors and they snap open. Light streams in and pierces my eyes as they adjust. Although I haven't quite processed what has happened, I know that I was trapped in there for some reason, and I hop to the ground as quickly as possible. Escape, Flora. My mind is racing as I turn to see a grocery cart filled with junk rolling down the hill away from a big, white painter's van. A middle-aged, heavyset woman with light brown hair and droopy red eyes looks up at me and snarls. "Well don't just stand there, I helped you! Now, go help me and get my cart!" I stand there in shock, but then it comes to me that this must not be the person that trapped me in that van. That person is probably close by... but where am I? I turn and run, tuning out the dirty lady's spits. A gas station? Is this the one Sean works at? I can't remember anything right now...
My heart is thumping. I am running towards the glass doors when, "Lovebug!". I ran into some old lady. "Are you okay, my darling, you look confused." I looked up into her round eyes. I try so hard to speak, but can't say a word. Was that her van? Was she a kidnapper disguised as a sweet old lady? So many thoughts were going through my head, I didn't realize the tears that began to roll down my plump cheeks with no refrain. A boy with black, greasy hair holding a box of matches came over and draped his arm around me. "Stop crying kiddo," he said softly in my ear, and he turned to the old lady. Are they working together? "Maybe we should take her back to your place until she can tell us what's going on, Ms. M." We all turn as we hear the terrible clang of tin cans falling against the bottom of the white van as the anonymous driver throws the oversized vehicle into the street. Red paint begins to spill down the road and across the intersection.
Suddenly, everything was blurry. The ceiling spun, and the grimy brown tiled floor beneath me seemed to crumble. A high pitch scream pounded against my burning eardrums, and my vocal chords felt as though they were going to collapse. I tried to focus on the old lady's face as she repeated "Breathe, baby girl, breathe," over and over into my face. Her breath was warm and smelled of onions. Suddenly, the smell of onions became overpowering, and everything went black.

My back hurts; but as I roll over, my sweat soaks through whatever I'm wearing and clings me to a soft surface. As I open my eyes, I notice the blue velvet couch I'm on has entirely sunk to the ground from years of abuse. This place smells like dog and it's hot. It's strange... this couch is facing a blank wall. Where am I? My eyes hurt so badly; my throat is dry and sore. I'm so thirsty. I unintentionally let out a small whimper, and a short, round old lady comes bustling over with a tall glass of water. Her eyes are wide and distract me from my discomfort. It's almost as though she had been waiting on me to wake up. "How are you feeling bell pepper?" she says, as she shakily hands over the glass of cold water. I drank the entire thing in three gulps, a record for me. "Well aren't you just a tall glass of water!" the old lady shouts, and then laughs uncontrollably at her own joke, snorting in between each cackle. I roll back over, ignoring her. Mami always told me Americans will try to take advantage of me if I said anything more than I should. I knew she was right; that's why we had to live in Delphie's basement for so long. "Okay. Well, you just let me know when you are feeling better, and we'll see if we can get you home. Your poor parents are probably worried sick! If you get hungry, I have some left over meatloaf from earlier. That ravished boy didn't eat so much after all!" she cackled and scampered back around the couch, leaving me to my silence. Cold tears began to run down my hot face, down my neck, and onto the couch. I heard footsteps again, and I looked up to see a familiar face. A gaunt boy with greasy black hair was holding a chair in one hand and a box of tissues in the other. He sits down; a flowery shirt and hot pink sweat pants sag around his bony frame. He stares at me silently while I blow my nose. His eyes are blood shot, and I know mine probably look the same by now. Yet, for some reason, he is so familiar. As he hands me tissue after tissue, I become more and more exhausted. I feel myself drift off to sleep so slowly, this time almost comforted by the presence of something I  recognizable. His breath is warm on my ear as he whispers, "Us and them, and after all, we're only ordinary men." 

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