I shake my head, clearing my thoughts with a forced chuckle. Forgive me, Father, I pray. And forgive them. I cannot hate what you have created.
While I’m at it, I decide to get everything else off my chest, too. I repent for every time I’ve disobeyed my parents, pulled my sister’s hair, lied to get out of trouble, etcetera. My stomach turns with each new memory of some sin I’ve committed, and the words become like a chant in my head; forgive me, forgive me, forgive me.
It isn’t long before my regrets stop being about what I’ve done and turn to what I never got the chance to do. Every minute wasted, every word unsaid, every suppressed emotion comes thundering back from my past to haunt me. I remember my last words to my parents before the riot that killed them; “Meet me back here in one hour.” The soul-crushing reality that they never came back finally hits me, seven months later. Tears draw stripes in the dirt on my cheeks, but it’s a silent cry. No moaning or wailing, just tears.
And my sister, Naomi. When was the last time I saw her? When she was sixteen, and I thirteen; the day the King took her, along with the other girls in the village, to be tested and married off to his six sons. We never heard from her again. That was eight years ago. She’s likely to be a mother now, perhaps married to the King’s first heir. All I can hope for is that she’s made him into a better man than his father.
A sudden desire to be with Thomas overcomes me. I want to tell him how much I love him, over and over until his ears bleed from hearing it. I want to kiss him until the world melts away and our imminent deaths mean nothing because we have each other, and only each other, and it will all be okay because of it.
“I love you.” The whisper slips out before I realize it will never reach him. I had to say it, though. One more time.
Wait – eleven?
Ten minutes. Only ten minutes. No, that can’t be right. Already? It hasn’t been that long… Impossible. I shake my head.
Four months in this cell gave me one thing: an accurate internal clock. I know I’m not mistaken, and yet, for the first time in my life, I wish I am. I wish it with all my heart.
No, no, no, my thoughts wail. More time! I need more time!
“Seven,” I mutter. “Seven… Give me more time…” My plea bounces off the silent walls. “Please…”
The darkness gets deeper. My vision blurs again as tears return. This time, though, it isn’t a silent cry. My body shudders with the first sob.
“Please!” I push out between cries. Nobody answers. I put my hands over my ears in an attempt to block out reality. My whisper is barely audible: “Four.”
I curl up on the floor, hugging my knees to my chest. I am defeated. My cries get quieter until I’m able to suck in a shaky breath.
A tear squeezes through my shut eyelids. It runs down my head, over my temple, and pools in my ear. It’s uncomfortable, but I don’t move to dry it. I don’t move at all.
My overwhelmed mind reaches in the fog for a coherent thought. It finds only one: I want to disappear. I want to crawl away from this terrible place and disappear forever.
I want to live.