The woman staggers to her feet, eyes burning, body aching. Tears stream unknowingly from her eyes as she rubs them, smearing mascara and soot. Her hands tremble so she grabs them, holding them against her stomach, forcing them to stop.
Taking stock of the aches running through her body she pauses, noticing for the first time that her feet are bare. Her eyes travel up, aware now of the burnt rags hanging from her legs; pants, and the bloodied material clinging to her chest; a shirt. Bruises mar her body, already black, purple lining the edges and her head throbs. She realizes there is a steady burn of heat beneath her feet, not yet unbearable – much like cement on a hot day. Done with herself, the woman looks around now, at her prison. She gasps – the sound loud and echoing in the empty cavern – and blinks rapidly, willing her surroundings to be a trick.
She stares again at the blackened rock walls, jutting out sharply. Under her feet is more jagged rock – only now she notices the stones are cutting the soles of her feet. Smoke drifts up from the ground, clouding the air so that it’s impossible to see.
Blinding pain unexpectedly engulfs her body and she doubles over screaming, clutching her stomach. Blood drips steadily through her fingers, echoing loudly in the empty cavern as it strikes the ground. She moans as her stomach burns.
Desperately clutching the hem of her shirt she lifts it and stares at the hole in her stomach. Confused, she forces her mind to remember, pulling hidden memories forward, searching.
A man appears in front of her, smoke clearing the way for her burning eyes to make out the gun he points towards her. Heart racing, she stills. Her breath comes faster as the shot echoes harshly; slamming into her stomach the bullet knocks her from her feet. Searing pain spreads from her stomach out, encompassing her body until she can do nothing but lie unmoving on the hot ground. The man walks over – smoke from his gun mingling with the smoke drifting from the ground –and kicks, boot landing in her side. He smiles as another agonized scream claws its way from her throat. As she’s screaming the man fades, taking, for a moment, her terror with him.
“My God,” She whispers bleakly, the words spilling from her cracked lips as she remembers. “I’m dead. That was my death and I'm dead.”
Through the pain in her stomach and the aches across her body she manages to stand. Staggering to her torn feet she uses the wall as leverage, gasping as the rock slices into her palm. Hissing, she snatches her hand back and takes a cautious step forward hoping to avoid the jagged rocks. No such luck.
Each step she takes brings a slash of pain and tears soon burn her eyes. Silence looms deafeningly as she walks, alone, so much that she speaks aloud just to hear a voice.
“I’m in hell,” she
whispers. “Dear God I'm in hell.”
She drops to her knees not registering the ground cutting deeply into her legs, and screams, wincing as it echoes through the never ending tunnels. Defeated, she woman again stands, stumbling along the rocks alone. She trails her blackened fingers over the wall, hating the empty silence, but dreading what might show up. She walks for what seems like days, until her feet are raw and aching. Her fingers and stomach steadily bleed, pain overwhelming her senses and the small flicker of hope is all but diminished.
“Mary? God Please.”
The woman’s ears prick, was that mama?
“God, don’t let her die please!”
Her breath stops; it’s an impossibly cruel trick, it must be.
“Not yet, please God not yet.”
Hope bursting through her pain she jumps, waving her arms at the disembodied voice screaming. “Mama!”
Her vision blurs, mist and blackness covering her eyes as she begs. Tears drip from her eyes as the voice draws closer, but pain still sears every time she moves.
“God please” she whispers, eyes shut tight, “I can change.”
She opens her eyes slowly, savoring the warmth of her mama’s fingers stroking her hand. Tears drip steadily from her mama’s face and she carefully raises a hand to wipe them from her cheeks. Tearful laughter spills from her mama’s mouth – she can’t help but join in.
“I’m home mama “she whispers. “Thank you God, I am home”
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