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The Illumination

Just a Minute

By kpPublished about a month ago 3 min read
The Illumination
Photo by Nowshad Arefin on Unsplash

Given the fervor surrounding The Illumination, Jounelle felt a resolve to take part in the ceremony that was not her own. Pressure from her family and friends mounted against her, pulling in a tide of submission and acquiescence. She now anxiously or eagerly awaited The Teacher’s arrival; she wasn’t sure which. As the door to the small, empty room opened, she turned to face the man who entered. He had a tall, slim, and lithe build. He wore a well-fitted, deep blue suit that accented his frame. His eyes seemed to lock into hers immediately. Deference was her instinctual reaction to his presence. She lowered her head, averting her gaze. He moved closer, and Jounelle recoiled slightly. She caught her fear and stopped moving but couldn’t bring herself to look at him again.

“Are you okay?” His question, laced with more kindness than she had imagined a Teacher had the capacity for, caused her to retreat further in shame. She used to think the men who filled the role of Teacher must be cruel and heartless to do the things they had to do. The Teacher was to be her caregiver from here on out, and she couldn’t fathom warmth from someone responsible for the future and well-being of another human. Her parents had never supplied her with such an example. She wasn’t close to her siblings, and the administration chose her friends to ensure compliance and limit rebellion. She was well aware of these facts yet remained complicit despite her discomfort with the reality of their world. She didn’t know what to do; she felt trapped. Her options were this or death. No matter how bad things got, she had never wanted to die.

“Yes, thank you. I’m fine.” Jounelle spoke with a certainty she did not feel. She hadn’t felt sure of anything since she was a small child. She remembered the man who took her vigor and the events that stole her confidence. The Teacher reminded her of him. His eyes, mostly. They seemed to loot anything they made contact with, including her spirit. She remembered seeing the man for the first time and feeling afraid, confused, and insecure. As time passed and he came to her more frequently, she began to feel numb to him. She thought she could find that place now with The Teacher. That emptiness that allowed her to survive this long was safety, she mused to herself, ‘Go there now, he won’t know.’

Leaving her body wasn’t an exact science, although she seemed to have it down to one. She didn’t even need to close her eyes anymore. She could relax her gaze, loosen her muscles, soften her thoughts, and she was gone. She did this now, her eyes drifting out of focus, blurring the image of The Teacher. This wasn’t a lesson she needed; the urge to reject him crept into her otherwise vacant mind. Jounelle filled her body with breath and exhaled sharply. Rejection wasn’t an option here. She complied, or she died; that much was clear. Had she survived this long and endured so much, only to have it end today? Of course not, she thought. She would continue to play along. It would only be a matter of time before an opportunity presented itself. She didn’t know what it would be or if she would be brave enough to take it, but she felt it coming in her bones. She would know it when she saw it and would wait until it came.

“Are you ready?” He asked, attempting to keep her attention on him.

“Yes, Teacher.” She replied, extending a hand.

thrillerShort StorySci FiPsychologicalMysteryHorrorFantasyExcerptCONTENT WARNING

About the Creator


I am a non-binary, trans-masc writer. I work to dismantle internalized structures of oppression, such as the gender binary, class, and race. My writing is personal but anecdotally points to a larger political picture of systemic injustice.

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