This is just something I’ve been working on the past few weeks. I have not put much into text; it is mostly just brainstorms from upstairs. I would love feedback and critique. Constructive criticisms are best, please and thank you. Now, enjoy your brief introduction into the insane life of one Thalia Roth Hamilton in the year of 2995 on the twelfth day of the third month. Future updates on this story will be posted in a tab on my home page found at the top labeled “This Is Not What You Think It Is!”
I could not breathe. Well, I could, but I was too afraid to. I had been hiding in the cupboard for days. I got in the habit of opening the small swinging door every few hours, so I would not run out of oxygen. I had to ration my food harshly those few days and I knew I had lost a tremendous amount of weight. I was thin before, but now I could feel my hip bones stabbing at my tight skin, begging for a release.
The air around me felt thin as I listened to the chaos outside of my taut cupboard: A woman screaming, a baby crying, a man shouting in agony… I had seen and heard so many families get torn apart, shot, left for dead. Part of me was grateful that I had no family to worry about. I always thought being orphaned at birth was a curse, a burden, turns out that might just be what saved my life.
The heavy footfall of the soldiers made the small house shudder so much I thought it might wriggle out of its foundation. Foolish thoughts, I told myself, shaking my head as I drew in a sharp, deadly breath. Claws seemed to be at work in my chest. My lungs burned so horridly I could have inhaled acid and it would have been a relief. It was some sort of gas, and I knew I did not have much time before I was out-cold, or had an epileptic attack. Yet another downside of being alone… I had epilepsy and it loved to act up at the worst times. Abba always told me to lie down if I ever knew there was gas; it was to keep me from falling down if it knocked me out. I stretched out and lay down, staring up at the pipes winding above me under the sink. I felt more tears well up in my eyes at the thought of Abba and his advice. I really missed him. You see, Abba means father in Arabic. But, Abba was not my real father, Abba was a kind man who helped me climb from the debris of the shack I was hiding in that had collapsed. He never told me his real name, he told me just to call him Abba. So I did. He was really the only thing I ever had close to a family. But, he’s gone now too so it did not really matter now.
I was not sure how long I was unconscious, but I woke up in the dead of night. Thankfully I was still under the sink when I awoke; I was worried about being found while I could not defend myself. I remained still for several minutes, listening to the distant chirp of the crickets carelessly singing in the forest beside the city. For a moment I wished I could be that careless, to be able to sing and frolic about the meadows in an infinite bliss. A dreadful sigh slipped from my lips then as I pushed myself up on my elbows. I knew it would never happen, so there was no use in daydreaming about it. It would do me no good after all. As Abba used to tell me, “Keep your mind on the minds that keep their mind on killing you.” His voice carried out each vowel in my mind like he used to, it drove me mad when he did that. But, it seemed that the slightest and most irritating things that he did to keep me safe are the ones that I miss the most, the ones that I remind myself of the most. I owed that man my life, for he saved my life. I had to keep my head on straight for him.
I stiffened my face to prevent the tears from falling as I crawled from my safe haven under the sink. There was a musty stale scent to the air, most likely a residue from the gas bombs. I felt a lightheadedness come over me as I stood causing me to lean back against the sink wearily. There was still dust settling from what I assumed was a hasty exit on the soldiers’ part, most people that get caught by the military now just give up easily or are so good at hiding even an expert like Abba would not be able to find them. Something spooked them. But, I was not about to be the one to figure it out, my dizziness meant hunger, and hunger was a bad sign for me since I was already so thin. I squatted in front of the cabinet door and piled my few belongings into a knapsack that Abba had fashioned for me out of a blank artist’s canvas. We had used the wooden frame for a fire that night. It was so cold. I allowed an emotional sigh to leave my lips at the thought of such a brutal night befalling me again without Abba to guide me towards food and shelter.
I’m going to die without him here. I shook my head, angry with myself because of the thought I let run through my mind. “Mind!” Abba’s voice shouted into my head. I could not help but smile at the image of him yelling at me for being so foolish to slip up like that. It reminded me of the time I tried to shoot a rabbit back when there was actually ammo left over from the war. He had been so angry with me that I thought the vein in his forehead was going to explode. I had laughed at him, which only made the situation worse. I remember thinking that his face looked like a red hot demon that pops out of your head when you are in the process of making a life changing decision.
I turned away from the sink and the cabinets and looked over at the rest of the debris-ridden kitchen with a bit of a smug look on my face. I could not help but think about what life would be like at this very moment for the people who had once lived so happily in this house if that first bomb had never gone off. I noticed a broken picture frame laying face down in front of the fireplace and lifted it gingerly into my frail, shaky hands. I blew the dust gently away and nudged the glass away, careful not to scratch the surface of the picture. I felt a twinge of guilt tighten my stomach into small knots, the kind that make you feel so sick you have to sit down. It was a picture of a man, a very familiar man. I’ve obviously seen you before, who are you? I sat down on the stool by the fireplace, the only usable piece of furniture in the living and dining area of the house to examine the photograph better.
I sat there for a moment, letting the dizziness from my hunger and the nausea from the familiarity of the man in the photo pass before I stood again. He was not the only one in the picture; he was accompanied by a beautiful elderly woman, two young children under the age of five and a beautiful woman, if not his wife then his younger sister. I smiled at how happy they looked and folded the picture in half, knowing that if they were to ever come across my path that they might like to have this back. It is a beautiful family. I hope they are still together.
I knew it was doubtful though, especially with the way the military had controlled gender roles and restricted families. I never really understood their meaning behind separating families, but I guess I did not care a whole lot because of my lacking on the subject. The only person I ever belonged with was Abba, and he died. So I had decided at that moment that I was numb on the subject, it was a simple grey area to me. Then why is it so complex?
I turned the corner, leaving the threshold of the house without a second thought. I kicked through a pile of ashes and twisted my mouth with melancholy at the burnt remains clinging to my foot. The flakes of what once could have been prized possessions or someone’s life work of a manuscript, it could have been anything really, and it drew an apathetic sadness over me that something can be reduced to something so bland and plain after meaning something to someone somewhere.
I kicked past the ashes and walked out into the debris-filled street, piles of forgotten things left to rot with the time of the weather. I looked hopefully up at the grey sky and closed my eyes, remembering the photos of the way the world used to look before pollution took its course and destroyed the planet slowly. This really is a rotten way to go. I took a deep breath and shrugged my shoulders slightly; after all, there was nothing that I could do about it for it was long before my time that it all began.
I was deep in thought as I walked down the street; kicking past the debris and watching the dust rustle then settle back down mechanically. I sighed at the hunger pangs that made my malnourishment more of a reality to my brain, causing a pain to shoot through my body that almost made me believe that the snarl coming from behind me was erupting from within my gut. I froze in my path and turned around to look at the scrawny malnourished dog standing behind me, producing a horrifying noise between that of a growl and a whimper. It broke my heart.