There are always points in someone’s life that alters their entire world. Like plots on a map, or dotted stars in the sky, they help one track where they’d come from, though offering no indication of where they were to go. Today—this very hour—I knew in my heart, was to be a major indentation in my life. Only one thought could force my steps forward down the dark, dripping corridor.
Square patches of light brightened the floor from above, cut-outs in the floor overhead so the guards could better hear what their prisoners were doing. There were no guards left, however, to hear the moans, cries, pleas for mercy—only me. Prisoners either shrunk away from me or reached their bony hands out for help. One cell stood alone at the end, its bars rusted to flaky red, its inhabitant bathed in darkness. I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to view what was within, knowing it would be another image amassed with the rest that I’d try in vain to forget. I couldn’t falter now.
I remembered with a wave of indignity what it had felt like to be on the other side of those bars, to scream and batter myself against them to save the woman I loved more than life itself. She was the only reason I was able to take each step forward, her porcelain face forever engrained in my mind. I stopped a foot in front of the cell, my heart hammering loud enough in my ears to drown out every other pitiful noise.
I would never be prepared for the sight within. Curled against the cold dankness of the cell was an all-too familiar woman with hair red as fire.