The alarm went off, stirring me from my restless sleep. I covered my ears to protect my brain from the wretched sound coming over the intercom at 5 am every morning.
And every morning, I wake up from horrendous nightmares to my life – a real nightmare. A nightmare without Ky. A nightmare where everyone and everything I care about is gone. What kind of a life is that?
I scratched another tally into the stone beside my bed, marking exactly a year since Ky has been gone. A year of monotonous days of work and cold nights filled with nightmares. Horrors of him dying, of him not loving me, of him choosing to leave me forever for selfish ambition.
A year ago, he was forced to leave me when his commander recruited him for his technical skills in machine weaponry – the Committee needed him in order to secure a victory against other cities in the war. Still, war has not stopped.
Ignoring the ache in my heart, I forced my thin body out of bed. The weight loss ravaged my body, I couldn’t eat and enjoy food like I used to. I felt heavy, weak, light headed.
I dragged my feet to the sink, splashing my face with cold water. My body was already so cold, the water felt like air brushing across my pale skin. I looked in the mirror, staring into the eyes of a stranger. A shell of a person stared back at me. Lifeless blue eyes seemed to cry out for help, dark circles hung beneath, detracting from any beauty within the depths of those eyes. Gaunt cheeks, sallow skin and pink lips in a grim line caught my attention- who was this? Had I really changed so much in a year?
I once had the look of youth in my rosy cheeks, bright eyes full of dreams and aspirations, muscles on my bones… Now all I care about is trying to survive through the day without breaking down. Without worrying, without having my anxious thoughts attack me till I can’t move.
Where was Ky? Was he dead? Was he a POW? Did he flee for a better life of his own?
Refusing to think of an answer for any of those questions, I put on my uniform. I slipped into my polyester, white skirt. It used to hug my hips and accentuate all of my womanly curves, now it lay loose on my frail body. My thin fingers fumbled as I buttoned the Committee approved blouse for work. I wrapped my hair back into a bun, enjoying the feel of my soft hair between my fingers. Ky used to love running his hands through my “liquid gold tresses”, as he used to say.
Grudgingly, I left my dingy quarters, the smell of mildew leaving my nostrils as I entered into the hallway.
My quiet steps followed me down the dim, grey halls like whispers taunting me. My shoulders sagged as if I carried a thousand pound anvil everywhere I went. It was the weight of my heart dragging me down.
I headed towards the computer sector to organize and enter more codes for the Committee. No one spoke about the codes or what they meant, but I knew they were important – but why? Why did I need specific clearance to input codes? And why would I be permitted clearance even after everything that happened with my husband?
Women dressed just like me watched as I passed by.
“She looks ill.”
“She used to be pretty.”
Their gossiping tongues didn’t bother me. Nothing seemed to provoke me anymore. Nearly everyone in the city stopped speaking to me after Ky disappeared weeks into his deployment and was deemed a traitor. The committee never released any information on the situation, but everyone accepted his new title as traitor and moved on. I hadn’t moved on. How could I? My husband disappeared without a word when I was 8 months pregnant. I want to believe the best of him, but doubts creep into my mind like spiders crawling around in my skull with everything the Committee has said. Had I really known him like I thought?
Nearing the computer lab, I turned the corner to find a guard. He stopped me. “Lavender, come with me.” His dark eyes threatened, but I wasn’t afraid.
“Is it Vivian again?” I raised my brows, irritated. She questioned me several times once Ky was never heard from.
The questions were cryptic, I didn’t understand what she wanted from me. Still don’t.
The guard didn’t answer me, grabbed my arm roughly, and led me through the dark building till we reached the medical sector. I felt my bone bruising.
Pictures of President Vivian lined the halls as we passed the computer sector, along with images of small victories in the current war. I scoffed at them. What were we fighting for anyways? Why didn’t the committee tell us anything?
Suddenly, the guard turned a sharp corner, shoved me into a room and slammed the door behind me. Rubbing my now sore arm, I froze. This was the room where they took me. Where they took my baby. A shiver ran up my spine, my jaw clenched tight.
Nothing had changed.
The room was cold and smelled of pungent cleaning supplies.
The same tattered, hardly white hospital bed sat mocking me.
The Committee stole everything from me in this room…
They took me from my chamber in the middle of the night after Ky was said to be a traitor. I was screaming as masked guards dragged me to the medical wing and strapped to the hospital bed. I fought against them so hard sharp pains protruded from my pregnant belly.
I remember doctors with face masks on, cutting into my belly, stealing my child. The slicing pain sent tension throughout my body. I dug my fingernails into the men standing over me, I drew blood and collected their flesh under my nails.
My blood spilled over onto the white sheets as I screamed for divine intercession. I was faint, but I wouldn’t stop fighting. Fighting for my baby’s life, fighting for all I had left of Ky. I squirmed and yelled while tears ran down my face like angry rivers. And then all was dark. I was in the medical wing for weeks after, close to death due to the blood loss. They tore the baby from my body, murdering an innocent life. It was a baby girl. Ky had guessed we were having a girl.
The Committee had hoped in killing our baby and broadcasting it, he would come back and they could arrest him. He never came. I was left ashamed as millions saw what happened to me.
I couldn’t eat or sleep for days on end after the loss – still can’t… I had nothing to live for after that. My baby was gone, Ky hadn’t come back and the entire city thought me an enemy because of whatever my husband did or didn’t do. But Ky would come back – wouldn’t he?
He was the reason I lived on, enduring each day without him or my child in hopes of one day seeing him again. The world I found myself in was colorless, full of cruel people and deceit. Ky was my reason, my reason to keep moving.
Was I bitter now? Definitely. Ky left me and our child to the scrutiny of the Committee. I almost died. Yet I love him still – I will always love him.
A slam sounded behind me, and I turned to greet Vivian.
“Sit down Lavender.” She crossed her arms smugly, posing before me as if she were worthy of praise. I hardly thought so.
I stared into her cold, grey eyes. Her lips formed a proud, crooked grin – I wanted to slap it off her face. Or maybe her mouth was stuck like that, afterall she had undergone several plastic surgeries in hopes she might be pretty one day. Didn’t work.
“Don’t make this hard on yourself sweetheart, sit down.” She gestured to the decaying hospital bed.
I sat down grudgingly. My body tightened.
“What do you want?” I asked.
“We need to run some tests.”
“Tests? What for?” My temper was rising.
“To see if you have memorized any government codes. This is just a safety measure we have to take.” Safety measure? I’ve entered codes for a year and this protocol is just now taking effect?
I rolled my eyes as Vivian stepped closer. She muddled through the metal trays beside me, then suddenly shoved a needle into the side of my neck. I let out a breath, fighting the urge to scream at the pain. I gripped the metal edge of the bed, my knuckles white.
“You’ll fall asleep in a bit, Doctor Pittman is going to examine you.”
A moment later, a tall, dark man entered the room. Vivian sauntered out as the doctor began to place neuro connectors to my temples.
I wanted to escape as the dizziness consuming me reminded me of that fateful night – the worst night of my life. My body went numb, I was unable to move. The feeling made me want to scream.
I started to see dark tunnels as my mind spun in endless circles. The doctor smiled at me and I could feel my eyelids fluttering to a close…
I felt like I was falling, slowly, ever so slowly… I gasped, my eyes opened. My vision was wavy as if I was underwater.
The pit of my stomach twisted into a knot. I was going to be sick.
Slowly, I sat up, holding my head between my hands as it ached with sharp, stabbing pains.
What did they do to me? And where was I?
Breathing deeply, I looked around. I wasn’t in the medical wing anymore.
My heart raced. I was in a small tent, a single candle lighting the canvas walls. I softly stood up, sure to be quiet as I searched my surroundings ignoring my body’s plea to stay in bed. I rummaged through a small bedside table, shuffling through the shelves, listening for anything. The room was poorly lit causing me to stab my hand on a sharp blade, I swore under my breath and grabbed the knife. Random books and papers laid scattered on the floor. There was nothing of importance in the tent.
I tiptoed to the tarp’s opening, realizing I was dressed in different clothes. Black pants and a cotton tee shirt. The thought made me angry.
I heard nothing as I peaked my head out of the tent’s entrance. Then, my brain forced my bare foot to step onto the grass below me. The grass was damp and cold, sending shivers through my body. The tent I was in was surrounded by several others, circling a massive fire pit with log benches and various supplies. I was in some sort of campsite, but why? Who brought me here?
I moved stealthily behind the tent, holding the dagger, ready to fight if need be – not that I had the strength to win anyways. The military training I endured with Ky taught me so much on self defense, but I hardly got out of bed to go to work – I hadn’t trained for months!
I prayed I wouldn’t have to fight for my life. At least not tonight.
My stomach continued to contort into knots, forcing me to keel over from nausea. Once the feeling passed, I checked my surroundings. It seemed like I was the only soul to be heard, yet I knew I wasn’t alone in the darkness.
I made a run for it into the forest trees a small distance away. As I entered into the tree’s protection, I could hear male voices stirring behind me.
I fought the black tunnels that aimed to cloud my mind. Trees, stumps, bushes and broken branches passed by me as I ran for my life. The smell of pine and dirt filled my nostrils, filling my lungs with fresh air. Air I hadn’t been exposed to for months. My heart beat so fast, it felt like a drum was pounding in my chest. I didn’t know how much farther my legs could carry me.
I began to stumble, my legs feeling too weak to continue on. Then, a loose branch caught the bottom of my foot – I fought a scream as I face planted into the earth. I bit down hard, fighting the excruciating sensation spreading up to my ankle. The warmth of blood covered my foot like a blanket.
I clumsily heaved myself up, frantically looking for the blade that went flying from my hand. Luckily, the moon light reflected off of it, allowing me to recover the weapon quickly.
Limping, I lazily continued on as the blood from my foot fell fast. A protective canopy of trees was just ahead, making me push even harder to reach it.
Finally, I stopped, bending over catching my breath in sharp heaves. An alarming throb came from my foot as it ached with such intensity I felt faint.
A small crack sounded near me in the woods – I listened intently.
Someone else was in the trees with me. My body was shaking as unknown, soft breaths whispered between the branches.
Then it happened. Someone jumped out at me from behind a bush. They grabbed my wrist, contorting it with such aggression I dropped the blade. I shrieked at the excruciating feeling as the knife went flying into the bushes across from me.
I tumbled to the ground with my offender, grappling, throwing punches, kicking. It was so dark I couldn’t see who it was. I used my elbow to uppercut the figure’s chin. They grunted – it was a man. I leapt up while he was in pain and threw my fist up to land a blow to their nose.
I froze. I knew that voice…
“Lavender.” The familiar voice was honey to my ears.
“Ky?” I was breathless and stunned. Tears immediately welled up in my eyes – what was going on?
I lowered my fist and stood up, stumbling backwards. My head was spiraling.
He smoothly leapt up from the ground and stepped closer to me. I tried to examine him in the dark. I could make out the outline of his familiar broad shoulders, his strong long legs…
Ky took another step towards me. I was paralyzed. He slowly brought his calloused hand up to my face, caressing my cheek just like he used to do. I could barely see his vibrant, topaz eyes in the moonlight.
“I’m sorry Lavender.” His voice was tortured with agony, but I didn’t know what to feel. I didn’t know what to think.
As if reading my mind, his hand dropped to his side. I didn’t have to see him to know his brows were furrowed.
I forgot my foot’s profuse bleeding until I lost my balance to the faintness overcoming me. I saw Ky’s gaze move to my foot and the puddle of blood around me… I began to teeter on my uncertain feet when Ky picked me up. My head bobbed against his chest as he rushed me back to the campsite. I could see his lips moving, feel the rumble from his chest, and yet I couldn’t hear him. I could hardly see. Was any of this real?
—- Thank you to all of my readers! This is a piece I am working on at the moment and I would love some feedback! This is just the beginning of a larger piece, so please feel free leave me some comments (: