by Jamie L. Latimer
The sun is warming up the world, the birds are singing their songs, and yet I remain unexcited for this day. Stepping from my car I cringe to myself and begin the long journey towards a door that will take me on the walk. A shiver dances up my spine. As the cold wind blows fierce, I sway from side to side, having trouble keeping my balance. The wind stings slightly as it jumps through my blue jeans and thin white T- shirt. My stomach erupts like a volcano that is spewing hot fiery ashes and lava; it burns my insides.
Knowing I am close to the solid, gray, steel door my heart pounds rapidly inside my chest. It jumps like a rabbit that has been caged up, then finally set free. This door is the entrance to a walk that consists of unkindness, coldness, and unhappiness. Feeling my stomach erupt again, this time more powerful than before, I wince. The lava slams against my insides like hot coals that are precisely laid around my stomach's inner lining. I must be strong and trudge on.
Close now, I feel sadness floating in the air. The looks of others who are about to take this walk have looks of unhappiness. Their eyes want to cry also, they want to let loose every time I take this walk. My stomach erupts again. The boiling lava pierces my side and I grunt slightly to myself and hold it gently with my hand. The door stands before me. As it becomes ajar, a harsh wind of unkindness blows over me, and makes my body tingle. Every tiny hair on my arms stand on end and giant goose bumps encompass my body as the uncertainty of the walk begins.
I walk across the hard tile floor and sign in at the dingy desk. I smile, but no smile is returned from the man with salt and pepper hair that lives behind the desk. Placing myself on an uncushioned chair I wait for my name to be called. In front of me a giant gun metal gray monster with huge jet black eyes, a wide mouth with teeth as sharp as a tigers' stands erect. The teeth look as though they could take a body and shred it into millions of tiny pieces, and then wait patiently for its next prey. I am not anxious to pass through this monster. Looking away from this horrible beast, my eyes begin to scan the room.
Children run about the frigid room, they dance with smiles on their faces. The children are blind to the walk that awaits them; they are simply happy to be there. Glancing down at the floor, millions of tiny dots seem to cover up the floor's dirt and grime. It is caked with spilled soda, dirt, grease, and candy. I glance to the side of me where people are quietly carrying on conversations; they try to act calm, but sadness prevails. My stomach lets loose again, and my heart pounds; hard enough to jump out of my chest.
Amongst the laughter from the children, I hear a scream, then another. Looking around frantically I try to discover where it is coming from. It seems I am the only one who hears it. Screams again, and then cries of freedom. Looking closely at the solid, gray, block wall that lays in front of me I hear piercing screams, they are coming from the cold wall. I look closer, completely oblivious to the conversations and the laughter of the children around me. Jumping suddenly, hands extend from the wall; they reach for me to save them. The hands turn into faces of men: young and old, and of every race; these faces cry out to me for freedom. They cry out for the happy life they once had before they were confined to this place, locked away from society, each for a different amount of time. Realizing I can do nothing, I cover my ears with my cold, clammy hands to block out their endless cries.
My name is called. Relief. Walking slowly across the hard, cold, concrete floor, my stomach erupts non-stop. I near the gray monster that wants to eat me. Slowly, I proceed through it and sigh to myself; I have made it. My hand gets stamped, but it can not be seen to the naked eye; the man with the salt and pepper hair grabs my hand and puts it under a black light, now it shows. The walk that I must encounter with several other people begins. A giant steel door buzzes and then opens. Seeing the door open, a new world awaits me and I convince my legs to be strong and carry me forward.
Again, I hear again the piercing cries of freedom. I try to block out these cries, but they remain with me, every minute, every hour, every lasting day. Another solid steel door opens and we move on like a herd of cattle being prodded towards a slaughter house. We pass through another door, and now we are outside; in another world. This world is evil. Freedom doesn't exist and happiness isn't the key to success. This world's key to success is to survive and not to let the system break you. One must survive or one will die inside this world of confinement.
The wind blows about us with purpose; it is teasing as it silently dances about us. It does not have to carry itself on this walk, it slips away quietly as we trudge on. We silently move forward. Glancing up and staring at the many rows of sharp razor wire that engulf a tall chain link fence, I realize that this world is indeed evil, confinement from society with no help of functioning in the world. My heart pounds and blood rushes through my veins, adrenaline takes over. I want to run from the dazed zombies that move forward on this walk. I need to tear apart the fence, rip the razor wire off with my bare hands, giving those cries and screams their freedom. I want them to be proud to be in America. It is not the country that has thrown away the key, but the government.
Then reality sets in and I know I can do nothing, a tear slips down my cheek and past the corner of my lips to trail down my neck and gets caught in my t- shirt. I walk on like the others, in a daze. We come to a steel door with bars; it makes an awful racket opening. Creaking like the gates of a neglected cemetery. Again the taunting wind of sadness blows over us and my salty tears dry as the wind blows past my face.
Finally the last door. Taking a deep breath my stomach erupts one last time. Slowly the door opens. All at once I see smiling faces and hear laughter. Relief. I know this laughter and these smiles will only last a short while, but I will soak it all in like dry sponge being immersed in water. I sit and wait, this time filled with happiness, and my heart pounds with excitement, like a dog's tail wagging in excitement of seeing his owner.
From behind a closed door merges my father. Again, relief. The man dressed in khaki that walks like Popeye slowly comes towards me, smiling with a gleam in his eye. His glowing smile turns this sad place into something wonderful. Love and happiness enter my body and the sadness quickly subsides. He looks a little older. Gray hair takes over his dirty blonde mustache and head. The gray builds character, kinda like dirt and scuffs on a cowboy's boots -- each one earned. we visit, smile, and laugh even though we are encompassed by dull dirt colored walls that are engulfed by fences with razor wire.
"Time is up, all inmates to the rear and all visitors to the front please." The men in crisp white shirts and flat gray pants look out into the room of smiles and those smiles quickly fade. I hug my father goodbye and a salty tear rolls down my cheek as I see my papa shed a tear of his own. He holds me tight and his mustache tickles my cheek. A smile is created. Remaining strong, I convince my legs to carry me past the rows of tables with chairs facing one another, all in a straight line. The men in the crisp white shirts holler for us to say our goodbyes; if only they had to say goodbye as we do. I head towards the giant door that will take me on the walk, only this time it will be in reverse. I have no fears, just hope. Someday my papa will emerge into freedom with me, until then I will take this walk as often as needed, and I will remain strong.
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