We were just going to be relocated. The land of from the city was
needed by the hardworking outside. That’s what they told us. We were going to a
working camp. Conditions would be better there, more spacious, they said. More
food, they said. They said, they said, they said. Still I listened.
We were told to bring one thing we felt was of value. Just one thing.
For me? I didn’t take my writing. Not my sketchbook. I didn’t even take my
deceased mother’s journal. I took my running shoes. I was as cold as the
soldiers were, choosing running over my family. I wish now that I hadn’t. How I
wish I hadn’t.
The river of people wasn’t calm that day as it was when we moved into
the square. Not at all. We had reached the rapids in this human river.
Shrieks and cacophony rang through my ears, and my throat dried to
sandpaper. The thud of pounding heels reverberated up through me and I weaved
through the crowd, looking for an escape. I could only hope my family was
following. I felt so closed in that I threw elbows, jabbing for a breath of
fresh air. I heard gasps beside me as I struck a target. I didn’t care.
Suddenly the explosion of a gun made me jump so hard that I nearly
tripped. Something inside of me clicked, and I thought that a race had begun. I
needed to run, but there was no room! How could I race? In this? But still, my nerves fired with the fear of loss and my mind went completely blank.
Chaos echoed through my mind, driving out any reason and leaving only
colours behind. To this day, I couldn’t tell you much about the people around
me, the emotion I was feeling at that moment. There was just the flat color of
beige under a dusty sky, the dark uniforms of soldiers.
The dark, deep brown of a train as it pulled up close to the crowd,
dangerously close. The colors melted back into shapes again. I balked, not
wanting to compete anymore. This race should not, could not, be run.
The train whistle screeched and my head felt like it was about to
implode from the sound. What I would have given, then, for a drink of water.
Something to smooth my scorched tongue.
We were herded to the compartment doors of the train.
I foolishly thought, at first, that the car I was pushed to was for our
luggage. Silly little animal that I am, I failed to realize that we were the luggage.
Panic rose in me as I was shoved onto the train. I was among the first
to go in. It was so dark, so closed in. The whistle screamed and I wanted to
scream with it. It smelled like cattle. Like animals.
(I later learned that the animals, the cattle I smelled, were the
faintly lingering smells of humans. Humans with every last thing stripped away
After about thirty people were tossed in with me, I was thinking, “This
has got to be the last few people. This has got to be the last few people.”
But it was not. Nearly a hundred of us were crammed in.
The door was closed. The darkness surrounded us completely. I think it
was then, in the velvet blackness, that my madness began.
The closing lock sounded like a death knell.