-2- The Cell.
I don’t quite know how, but it is at once hot and cold in my cell. The walls are grimy and moist with mold and offer no semblance of heat. But still I sweat, sitting here with nothing to do and nowhere to go but into my own mind. I am well used to sweat – from battle or exercise or just traveling over rough terrain on a hot day. This is different – this sweat of maddening stillness. Even now I can feel drops faltering down my spine to lose themselves in the uncomfortable weave of my prison attire.
Sometimes I have an urge to take off my clothes and lie naked on the wet, slimy ground, trading in that constant sweat for filth. I refrain though, knowing the sight would be an invitation too difficult for my frustrated guards to resist.
Rape is common here. So is torture. I have intimate experiences of both and take care not to invite them. I hear the rape of weaker women, even some of the weaker men and as I listen to the strangled sobs, my lip curls in an involuntary expression of distaste. That is no way to survive: to simply give in and bend over and cry. If you must bend over, if you must scream, do it with anger. Do it with defiance and fight in every muscle. Let them know that everything they are getting from you, you are not giving willingly.
Those sobs I hear from distant cells have lost that timbre of defiance, I can tell. It is when I stop hearing it in my own screams of pain that I will truly be defeated. That I will truly be dead.
But not yet. When they drag me out for my regular roughhousing, I go with muscles tense with resistance. Whether I choose to walk quietly with them or whether I choose to make things difficult for all concerned, there is fight in me yet and they well know it. The guards regard me differently from the others. When they escort me from place to place, they surround me but also keep their distance, as if guarding an alien creature that could at any time turn on them, regardless of the consequences to itself. Accustomed as they were to looking over the worst of the worst criminals, I could tell I frightened them.
I often wonder if I am afraid of them. I know what they are capable of – they have showed me many a time. But the knowledge that I frighten them gives me the power to somehow convey to them that while I may be afraid, I am not as afraid as they’d like.
(…to be continued)