He sits in a cell, the world he once knew severed out from under him. There is very little light here. He sees a crack in a wall. It provides a sliver of light, nothing more. It mocks him of what life could be, if only he were free once again. Gazing at the tease of light, he wonders about what has been taken from him.
Just a short lifetime ago, he had a life. He had a purpose. There was wind in that life. There was fresh air there, and he spent as much time as he could savoring it. Everyone told him he was crazy to come to this place, this place of danger and wildness, when he had everything he needed in the land he knew well. He could stay safe at home, but despite all the pleadings, everyone who knew him knew that he would never be a man to play it safe. It was a risk and a gamble to place his stakes and fortunes in a lawless land, but he was ready for it, or so he said back then. If he won the gamble, he’d be a rich man. For a while, he had done well, and it looked like he’d capitalize in the most profitable of ways. He was even planning on going home, back to the land of sea and trees, away from the land of desert and sand. It all worked out so well for him. Almost.
But now, here he was. The dealer gave him a bad hand of cards. The gamble had tilted luck away from him, and he was here, locked away from anything he knew but his own mind. Worse, whatever it was that landed him in this particular place seemed far away in his pained mind, as if whatever it was had been beaten out of him. An unwanted foreigner in a foreign land, and now he was at the mercy of the home team. This hand he had been dealt sucked. But he had known the risks. Now, the worst was reality, no longer a far-fetched unlikely theory. Now, the strength of his character would be tested. Could he pass?
What happens to a person when his world is stripped from him, and there is nothing he can do to change it? It’s a test that most people are fortunate enough not to face, at least not to this literal extreme. He was one of them once. He never knew what it was like to be exiled from the world he thought was his life. Before, life was a chart for him to plot. It was a goal to be mastered. Now, it is a torture to be endured. He is no longer counted amongst the fortunate who only know freedom. His life is the confines of this cell, cut off from the world. He wonders what does freedom mean, now that he is cut off from its very existence?
The worst boredom he endured on the outside is nothing, compared to the hell that he faces now that the cell door is sealed. All his world is silent, except for the thoughts that torture him. All his world is dark, except for ghosts that mock his predicament. There is no one to tell him that his thoughts are wrong. He is confronted with the realization that the nice guy he presented to the world was just a mask to wear, like a costume on Halloween.
All the niceties that passed for character on the outside become some strange fantasy here. They are fables that he swore to at one time. Here, he has no way of knowing any of it was ever real. There is nothing in his immediate surroundings to verify his thoughts. There is no one to corroborate his memories. He wonders if life was some dream that he concocted in order to get through this present hell. His life is these four walls that slowly smother him. With each passing second, he wonders about this semblance of his existence. Was anything else real?
Every second becomes a test of reality, whether the reality right in front of him, or the one he hopes exists before all this. He grasps at the threads of memory that comprised the tale of the life he once lived. He prays the prayers that he learned in grade school with Sister Ann. So much so, that they become repetitious noise, the words becoming meaningless. The prayers tell him about God and how He watches over you. The words all sound nice now, here in hell. He gets the feeling that they sounded nice before. But he wonders what the Almighty is doing with His vast power as He (She? It? None?) surveys him in the situation he faces now.
He senses that there was a time when he felt comfort at the idea of something cosmic seeing him, watching him, following him at all times. He remembers that old comfort, and holds onto it for a second. But it goes away, fast. When the comfort flees, he curses this almighty presence. He is convinced the Almighty sees him as nothing more but a bug to be observed, because God isn’t bored enough yet to crush him in disgust. So with this thought, he takes the pre-emptive move, like the time he dumped his lover just before he knew that he was going to be dumped first. He tells God to shove off, just like he did when you took the romantic bull by the horns and shoved off the useless lover. God, lovers, they were all the same at this point. What use were they now, when he was sitting here alone in a cell, like he was waiting for the widowmaker to come and finish him off? Can anyone answer this question his satisfaction at this point? Can anyone even answer him, at all?
What did he do to be in this hell? There were accusations, with fingers pointing at him, saying he did it. They spoke quickly in the language he knew too little of in this foreign land. What they say he did, he doesn’t understand, not really. He doesn’t even understand their accusations, other than something that sounds like “spy”. He has no idea even who “they” were, or are. It was hard to know anything, when the language they spat at him was so incomprehensible. He thinks, why did I bother coming to this stinking foreign land just to make a buck?
Then came fists in his face when he didn’t comply to their liking. It all went blank for him, mercifully. His mind decided to shut down. Now, his mind wants to leave him, for good it seems. It’s looking for some greener pasture, or any pasture at all. Anything other than this hellhole, in whatever God forsaken place this was. He sure didn’t know.
Whatever reprimand they gave him, whatever sentence he was supposed to endure, whatever punishment whipped upon him, it makes no difference to him. If he was supposed to hang his head in shame now, it wasn’t working, because he doesn’t remember what he did. Shame was hard for him to grasp as a lesson when there was no causality to hammer it down.
He grasps at these two thoughts, not sure of their correlation, just quite yet. But he turns these thoughts over and over in his head. His mind puts down the bags it packed for its permanent vacation with this activity going on. It returns to the task these thoughts have given it, and processes these thoughts. Shame needs causality, with a reason to exist. He was accused, but of what? They said that he should die here, but why? They hate him, but have they given him any reason to love them? They are the ones who put him here. That’s some love affair. He laughs. He’d rather take back the callous lover he kicked to the curb back in his home country. In fact, he’d take back God.
So, seeing that this is true, he does just that. He decides to take back God. He figures that he may as well do so, seeing that he’s always been told God doesn’t go anywhere, anyway. At least it’s something to hold onto. It’s something that he can give himself. He pleads his case with God, stating his claim to his innocence. He awaits the shame he is supposed to feel. After all, if God knows everything, God knows of innocence or guilt. God would know if his lack of shame is staking a false claim. God should know if he’s a liar, even if he didn’t and was floating down a river of denial. This should be true, if God knows everything, or at least more than he does.
So, he waits. He waits for the Divine Judgment for his supposed rank arrogance. But, it doesn’t come. Instead, he feels a rush. It is like a rolling fire, tearing through him. It wakes him up, tells him that his life before wasn’t a dream, and there is something to fight for that his innocence can reclaim.
He looks at the crack of light in the cell wall, and crawls his way towards it. Such a small sliver it is, but it fills him with a rush of hope, even as he hears the voices coming for him with loud accusations of espionage and spying. He is innocent. So he will fight. He no longer waits to die, because he will fight to live. The rush gives him power. It’s time to fight the widowmaker. It’s time to fight so he can be free to live.