The space in between Point A and Point B is lost. At A I was a river, carefully carving a canyon crevice by crevice through rock and sand. And then I came across the lava and ended up at B. At B, I am a prisoner; bound by hand and foot, iron shackles carving deep lines into my skin, millimeter by millimeter.
My chin feels tight as I pull my flaky bottom lip into my mouth. My tongue is almost dry enough to exfoliate it. I move to lick my chin. The taste of my own blood is no longer a surprise.
I open my eyes and look upward. There is a window some feet above my head. It is merely a sliver, but it is wide enough to help me distinguish night from day. It is night. The moon is out, and its faint light streams down through the glass, casting a pale gray glow on the room. Grainy dirt floor. Cracked concrete walls.
Dust particles sparkle in the light, and through them, I can barely make out other figures. Some of them moan, some of them scream; but they are all chained and bleeding. Twisting my wrist, I attempt, unsuccessfully to wriggle out of my iron cuff. My limbs have grown smaller with lack of use and food, but it seems as if my shackles grow tighter right along with them.
My head falls back against the wall. I sigh. What does it even matter? I’m not getting out.
Time passes. I open my eyes again, scraping out the crust with overgrown fingernails.
My vision is blurry, but across the rain of dust, I spy a new figure. She is closer than the others. If my chains were only one foot longer, I could touch her. I want to call to her. I try to call to her. My vocal chords feel as if they are clenched shut. My mouth falls ajar, but I am silent.
However, her head snaps up, as if she has heard my cry. She examines me for some time, motionless and cold. Then, she moves to speak, but then doesn’t, simply shaking her head. She digs into the dirt, fingers absorbed up to her knuckles. They come up wrapped around a silver key. She pushes the key into the lock on her chains, twists to the right, and they dissolve around her.
She stands up and pads her way across the floor. When she has reached the center of the window’s spotlight, she turns to face me. The dawning sun glints off of the frame of her glasses. She smirks, but her eyes smile. Then, she moves away, fading into the darkness.
Before she completely disappears, she faces me again. She does not speak, but I can hear her, anyway.
“Aren’t you coming?”
I stare down at the shackles around my wrists and ankles. “I can’t.”
She shrugs, smirks, and turns again. In less than a minute, she is gone.
I’m furious and mystified. In my frustration, I punch the ground, digging a hole with my fist.
Two inches down, my knuckles hit metal.