Lonely Prison

The four walls held her captive, like a prison, but worse. It was dark, cold, and deathly quiet. She knew this would be her tomb. When she died, and she knew how soon that would be, her corpse would rot here. Not a soul would know or care.

The worst part was knowing she would die alone. As a child, she’d imagined dying in the comfort of her own bed, surrounded by loved ones. Tears would fall from every eye, but they would also be smiling. Smiling because she’d lived a long, full life. And she would smile because she wasn’t alone.

But here, in this room, she couldn’t smile. A heavy weight pressed on her chest, crushing all the joy she’d ever felt. She wanted to cry, but tears wouldn’t form. All she felt was the crushing pain of loneliness.

She was curled up on the floor, her frail arms clutched around her abdomen. Ribs poked against her skin, she was so thin. How long had it been since she’d eaten? Days, weeks? She had lost track of time in this darkness, lost all sense of the present.

Not a word had passed her lips since the day she’d woken up, here in this hole. No one was around to listen, so there was no point talking. Her own voice would sound foreign to her now if she spoke. She compressed her lips into a thin line, the skin cracking as it stretched.

Death would take her in several hours. She could feel him, creeping closer and closer, his bony hands wrapping tighter and tighter around her. She closed her eyes, but it was no different than if they were open. Her ragged breathing sounded loud in the utter silence, yet somehow, it was comforting. She could almost pretend it was someone else’s breath, briefly alleving the loneliness.

Listening intently, she imagined she could hear this other person speaking. Words came to her, muffled, barely audible. But they were there. Her eyes flashed open.

For a moment, she thought she was truly losing her sanity. The voice was louder, closer. She sat up and crawled around blindly, seeking the source of the voice. No, she wasn’t losing her mind; someone was there.

It took all her strength to bang her hands against the wall, hoping, praying, this mysterious person would hear her. She tried to cry for help, but her throat was dry, her voice coming out as a croak.

The will to live suddenly burned within her like a raging fire. She pounded on the wall fiercely, each knock echoing in the room. Someone outside shouted, “Over here!”

Another knocking sounded against the wall, echoing her own. “Step back!” the same voice shouted, and she did as she was told. She scurried backward, away from the wall, bumping hard against the one opposite.

After several seconds, something slammed against the wall once, twice, three times. On the fourth slam, the wall came crashing down, revealing a dazzling rectangle of light. The sudden light was so painful, she had to look away, shielding her eyes.

When she looked again, she could see the silhouette of someone standing inside the rectangle of light. “It’s going to be okay,” the person, a man, was saying. “I’m here to save you.”

Her breath caught in her throat. The weight, the crushing weight, finally lifted from her chest. Happy tears rolled down her cheeks, her body wracked with sobs. She wasn’t going to die. She was finally free.

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