I finally built up enough courage to open my eyes. They haven’t adjusted to the darkness yet but I can already tell freedom never looked more pathetic. Buried in bricks from the waist down, I’m standing tall amidst the chaos as if I’ve caused it all.
With no recollection of time, it’s hard to tell how long I’ve been unconscious but it must’ve been days, maybe weeks. My back is arched forward, permanently stuck in a state of pity, restricting my vision to the few feet around me. I shift in an attempt to move my legs, only to find that I’ll never walk again. Dried blood sews my fingers shut, leaving behind only my two thumbs and my right index finger. My tattoos are completely disguised with blood and dirt. I’m black and brown all over, completely immobilized but I survived.
Before this became my reality, when it was but a mere possibility, I told myself survival is a lottery ticket with all the right digits. It was a chance to continue what we started. How very typical of me to be as foolish as I’ve always been. It hasn’t crossed my mind that this lottery will be a ticket to my own grave. I can already feel myself decomposing.
My thirst silences my whispers as I try to scream, hoping for someone merciful enough to end me. Help me. Thinking about living is as painful as can be.
My senses are out of touch, I’m absent-minded and numb but my breaths are a constant reminder that I’m still alive. Don’t fool yourself with the lack of feeling. With each inhalation, I breathe in the dust, heavy like shards of glass drifting down my throat and along the inner lining of my chest wall. It feels as though my lungs are being polished with sandpaper but I’m far too weak to squirm in pain. With each exhalation, I see the air freely move in front of me, mocking me in my immobile misery. My only choice is to breathe out whatever remains from within.
Miscalculations and misinterpretations, my mistakes led my teammates to their demise but at least I can say I’ve gotten one thing right: God is cruel. Waking me up to the consequences of my drive, mocking me, and taunting the lives I’ve left behind as though I’m being told: This is what happens to those who seek freedom. This is what happens to those who forget about today and live for tomorrow. This is the tomorrow you longed for, my little freedom fighter. Little. I’m so little.
I shift my eyes away from my arms, moving my gaze forward, looking for someone I know. I-spy-with-my-little-eyes limbs, here and there, barely peeking from under the ruin. There aren’t many, just enough to know that I’m not alone.