“Why? Why? Why? Why?” we whisper to ourselves rocking back and forth.
Our head is pounding. We try to open our eyes. Everything is still blurry. We can make out a small crack of light from underneath the door, but nothing else. Our eyes are too bloodshot, too watery, and it’s too dark. Food hasn’t come today. Looks like there’s nothing to eat again. We fall asleep.
We wake up. We’re in our corner, staring blankly into the darkness. We’re starting to be comforted by this darkness. It’s all we’ve ever remembered. The word “why” is in our head. It’s screaming at us. It’s whispering the word. Different languages, different voices. Voices we’ve haven’t heard in a very long time. I don’t even know why we’re asking this question. We feel like we’ve done something wrong, but we don’t know what. It’s like some God is punishing us, and we’re to figure it out.
The chute opens. Something slides in. It takes a couple minutes for us to get up, not fully, just on our hands and knees. We shakily feel around for whatever came in; a long, tall cylinder. We put it up to our mouth. It’s refreshing, but dissatisfying at the same time, kind of bitter. We pass out.
Everything’s empty. Why are they doing this? We’re weak, we’re nothing. We’re useless. What if nobody’s out there anyways. We fall asleep again.
We feel like we need to go to the bathroom, but we haven’t eaten, or drunken anything in days. It’s impossible. We can’t imagine a day without feeling this emptiness. We pass out again.
The chute opens. It gives us bitter water, sometimes with some hard-crunchy substance. It’s our only contact to what is beyond this box. We start rocking again. “Why?” we ask ourselves.
“How long are you going to ask yourself that question.
“That’s not very nice.
“I said, Shut up,” the other voice stops. We keep rocking, looking at the darkness. It’s comforting for us. We fall asleep.
“He’s been asking that question for months now. If he keeps this up, that’ll be the only word he knows.
“Shhhh.” The voice is gone again.
A while later, “Why?
“Ugh, how long will he keep asking that question?"
“He’s going to ignore us again?
“Nothing good comes out of this conversation. He keeps arguing. He doesn’t answer our question. He just mocks us for asking it.”
“We don’t have to argue. Just stop asking why. He’s not going to get an answer. I don’t know why or why he’s asking why.
“Shhh. I hear voices.
“No, don’t shush us again.
“Shhhh. People are coming.
“We will not be silenced.
“Shut up,” we shout.
We hear some sort of foreign language. It sounds harsh, demanding. The voices come closer.
The small sound of tinkling metal on our box opens the large door. A bright light floods our box. We can’t see anything. We scream. A harsh, sharp voice yells, and some man kicks us in the ribs. We scream again. We are halfway picked up by our arms and dragged out of our box. We try to resist, but we are so weak they easily drag us away from the comforting darkness.
They throw us down on a floor. Everything hurts, so we lie still. Our eyes after a while get sort of used to the light. We look at the hands. They are boney; we can see every large vein, every bump from a bone; we look like a skeleton. We look up at the men sitting at a table. They have a red band around their arm. They are all wearing the band on the same side of arm, and on it a white circle, with the sign. That sign that keeps showing up. The symbol we keep seeing in the darkness. It’s a group of four boxes. Their connected in the center but not completed.
“How long have you kept us in our box?” we ask in a hoarse and quiet voice. A smaller man comes stomping over yelling at us. He takes out a stick and starts beating us with it. He stops and looks at a taller, brawny man wearing the same uniform. The smaller man says something. The tall one runs off. The shorter person sits down and stirs something in a floral teacup. The tall man comes back with another person.
The new man is talking to us. We try hard to concentrate. Our ears start ringing. We hear our language. We cannot make out any words. We know he is speaking to us in English. We focus on trying to hear him. He starts getting angry. His face is getting red.
“Sorry, sorry, sorry.” It’s all we can say. We don’t know what we did wrong, but we must’ve been doing something. He turns around and speaks to the man sipping his teacup. Two men pick us up and drag us back. They pass our box. We start yelling. We don’t want to be anywhere but that place. We want the darkness. It’s our home. They put us in a jail cell. It’s bright, but it has a bed. They throw us in and lock the door. It takes us a while to drag our body over to the bed. We pull ourselves under it. We start crying as we scrunch together in that corner. We pull out our hair. It comes out easily. Whenever we move, our arms tear from the springs from the bottom of the bed. We don’t mind it. We do it on purpose most of the time. It starts becoming dark. These people slide very small portions of food for us underneath the jail gate.
A couple weeks later, we hear loud bangs. They sound familiar. It’s a sound that would keep replaying in our mind when we were in our box. We recognize some words.
“Check the stalls.”
More loud bangs. They echo down this hallway. Footsteps rush down this cell hallway. A man in a very different uniform from the other people stop at the cell we’re in. He doesn’t have the red band. He shoots at the door and it breaks open.
“There’s a man here. Soldier, get some men and get a bed over here.” The man orders another man running by. He walks into the cell and opens his bottle. He tips it up to our mouth. The water tastes cold, refreshing, and sweet. The other men come in with a small thin bed. They put us on it and load us into a moving carriage. Our heart is pounding. We can feel our muscles twitching. It’s hard to breath, we try to take long deep breaths, but all we find are short shallow ones. We don’t want to leave.