In response to The Daily Post’s weekly writing challenge: “Ice, Water, Steam.”
“How long have you been here?” she asked. Her pen tapped and criss-crossed words on the paper I printed last night.
How long have I been here?
Well, let’s see. I’ve been here 8 years, 10 months, 23 days.
“8 years,” I answered, scared. The room was closing in on me, and I was being pushed out of the door.
“That’s why,” she said as if I provided the missing piece of the puzzle in her mind. The puzzle why someone like me was in the same level as someone like her. Someone who’s only been here 8 years, 10 months, 23 days and counting, unlike her who has been here for 42 years, 3 months, 28 days and counting.
As if the length of your stay measured your ability to make a positive impact on the people of this land. Her land.
The land she called hers was not hers, nor mine.
The land belongs to itself, and we are mere walkers who are born on it and then will later be buried underneath it, and finally be one with it.
“Here, we say…” and she told me how her people say things.
Over a single word, she already buried me alive underneath the land she thought was hers, and hers alone.
I was silent; silenced.
As I closed the door behind me, I apologized to the land I was standing in, to the air I was breathing, and to the word I was told to say rightly. A tear or two fell. Images of the earth catching my tears and using it to grow a beautiful tree came to mind. My grandmother’s voice filled my heart as I heard her tell the legend of this flower who came to life watered by a pained woman’s tears.
I looked down and saw my tears fell on dirty concrete.
I know I’ll always say the word how I’ve been saying it my whole life. The word never questioned me, but the thin pursed ruby-chapped lips will always have something to say.