I am awake.
It’s both a relief and a disappointment to feel my eyes opening, struggling to adjust to the darkness. I’m not dead yet, but I’m barely alive.
Two weeks I’ve been here; it feels much longer but I know that I couldn’t have survived more than that. Nobody could. I try to think back to that day but I can no longer grasp reality. Everything exists here now. All I remember is the struggle; his hands across my mouth, choking me until my muscles stopped responding to the fight.
The floor beneath me is cold and dirty. I haven’t seen the dirt but I can feel the specs of grain and stone, embedding themselves into my cheek. I’m still wearing my coat, which makes the draught more bearable. But not at night. In this constant veil of darkness, the only indication that night has come is the bitter drop in temperature, which injects itself swiftly into my bones.
It was the silence that scared me most at first; it made me feel isolated, like the whole world had forgotten that I ever existed.
Maybe it has.
It’s not so bad now that the other girl is here; he brought her when I was sleeping. At first I thought I was imagining it –but I called out “hello” and a feeble greeting was returned to me. If my voice is strong enough to reach her, I get a similar response, but she never initiates a conversation. She is too far away to touch; only her breathing reminds me that I am not alone. Sometimes it is shallow and low – that’s when I worry that we’re not going to make it. At other times, it is quick and desperate and I find that my own panic begins to mirror hers.
Sometimes I think I can just make out her silhouette. Other times there is nothing but emptiness. I have never had the strength to ask her name – nor her to offer it, so we remain strangers, sharing the same terrible fate.
I try to remember the sound of him leaving – try to assess where the door might be. I remember it sounding distant, reverberating in the wide, open space. There is no escape.
I’m awake again. It isn’t the usual sharp cold that has woken me but another of my senses has made me alert. Footsteps. I momentarily hold my breath, hoping that if I do, he won’t find me. I glance sideways to gage whether the girl is still asleep but my eyes haven’t adjusted yet and I can no longer hear her breathing. Maybe he is too late for her.
As the steps become more pronounced, an unfamiliar glimmer of hope is lit within me. Then again, maybe it’s just madness. Maybe this is how it ends.
Without warning, the room is lit like an explosion and I whimper in fright at the sudden change. Voices begin to approach and they sound friendly: relieved. The prospect of being saved overwhelms me and I suddenly feel too exhausted to keep my eyes open. Before they close, I attempt one last look at the girl beside me, hoping to see her relief imitating my own.
There’s nobody else there; my eyes droop and the last thing I hear is the faintest sound of an echo.
By Miss H Smith
A budding novellist? Interested in writing for the Wirral Girl Blog? We want you!
Contact Mr Loveland (email@example.com) with your ideas, and you could see your short story published on The Wirral Girl.