You were alone in a room in your house. There was screaming outside. People multiplied in the streets around your home. You did not want them there. They became loud and aggressive. You did not know who they were. You did not know that they were there all along. But you had a strong feeling that this didn’t make sense. They threw their fists in the air and howled. In the daylight, they washed away the order and sense you knew. The day turned to night. In perpetual night, you learned to live in fear.
You stayed with others like you. With your eyes, not your mouth, you asked one of them how the feared ones got here and how long it would be. You wondered if it would get worse. You always wondered if it would get worse. Petrified of the silence among those like you, you stopped asking how long it would be with your eyes. And you fled within yourself, deeper.
You do not remember losing touch with the others like you. You could no longer see anything beyond your own heart – your huddled heart. A cocoon around your heart, your body wept, and the tears washed over your heart. There, something beyond the inside of you snapped. First hate, and then rage widened your eyes, and you could see more than you had ever seen – more than you had ever wanted to see. And you could see the others like you right before you, still there no longer asking with their eyes.
You turned away from their no longer asking eyes to the walls around your old homes. And you stretched your arms back toward those like you, and they stood back away from your arms, and you shrieked and howled, and you threw yourself at them – the walls – your body pounding at the walls. And those like you became insane with their own rage, and they shrieked and howled, and they broke free from both asking and not asking with their eyes. And they were not afraid. They only knew shrieking and howling.
On your knees, breathing heavily, you turned your head around your side. Those like you were climbing through the wall with you. But you all stopped climbing and looked back. You all stopped together to look back. And you listened to the others not like you, the feared ones pursuing you. You were ready to fight. You could see the light of their torches and their shadows against your old homes. The other way there was only darkness. You went that way, climbing through. You ran, and those like you ran with you. They picked each other up and carried one another, crying and dirty. You ran.
You ran until the dark changed to light. You ran, and the air changed from cold to warm many times. And the earth transformed. Until city turned to desert, and until the desert turned to hills and mountains, you ran. Far now, atop a dry place, you looked back across a barren ground. You could see them coming, slowly, not hurrying, dark figures in a line, relentless. And you bent over, your arms like stilts upon your knees, hyperventilating, dripping with sweat onto the dirt in front of your eyes, begging the earth in front of you, under you, “What? Why?” And you looked into the earth, and you could see deeply into the earth, and the earth opened itself up to you, and you burrowed into the earth. And those like you, still with you, burrowed into the earth.
You went into the stony earth, and you broke through slabs of rock and gravel and clay. And you rolled over toward the sky above the earth. And you waited. You waited until your body became still. You waited until you could hear them coming. Until you heard them pass through and over you, you waited. You waited until you could no longer hear them leaving. Until you could no longer imagine seeing them beyond, you waited. Until the sky opened up and dropped water that made muddy puddles in their tracks, you waited. Your bones heavy, your heart weak, you slept. Until the earth grew fibers that grew trees that grew roots, you slept. And you almost stayed there in the earth forever.
You were alone, in rock and clay in the earth. And there was yelling above. Footsteps multiplied above on the earth. Your eyes opened wide, and your breath shot out from beyond the inside of you. Your shooting breath became loud and the earth moved around you and a slender hand reached out of the gravel around you in the earth, and pulled you out. And a face that looked like it had said it a thousand times before – a face that was like yours – one of those like you – worn from experience, but peaceful and light, told you that it was ok, now.
And your looking eyes, filled with earth and time, stretched anxiously beyond the place you stood. And in your eyes, the face that said it a thousand and one times could see your escape from not belonging. And you beheld the place you stood.