“Let me out!” I scream. “Let me out! Somebody! Please!” My screams fade out. I can only yell so much, because I can only breathe so much. The air is thick…no, thin. Is it thin? God, I don’t know. “Please!” I yell. Tears run down my face. I try to wipe them away, but I can’t. They just trickle down my cheek, past my ear to the wetness below my head that I hope is an accumulation of my tears, not an accumulation of my blood. My hands are at my sides, and this box I am in barely lets me raise my chest in and out let alone move my arms any higher than the thickness of my body. I wear it like a snug snow suit. No room to move. No room to breathe. And the air…the lack of air. “Please, please, please, please,” I repeat in a low voice to no one.
Wherever I am, I am in motion. I can’t tell which direction, but I feel a very slight sway like I may be on a boat. If I am on a boat, it must be in the lower cabin, because it’s not just dark in here, it’s black.
I touch the wood that surrounds me, hoping for a clue, praying for an opening that will set me free.
I was…I was putting groceries into the trunk of my car. It was raining, actually it was a downpour, but I had to get home to Ryan.
The air is thin, not thick.
Everyone was inside the store, waiting for the rain to stop, but I didn’t wait. The babysitter was going to leave, so I had to get home to Ryan.
Not thin…the air, it’s barely there.
“Ryan,” I whisper. The box is too tight for me to hit upward, but I can move my arms to their sides. A little. I hit the walls on each side of me as hard as I can. “Let me out!” Hitting the walls is doing nothing. There’s not enough room to gain momentum.
I didn’t realize it until now, but I am famished. I feel like I haven’t eaten for days. Maybe I haven’t. I was… I was at the grocery store. It was Tuesday night. I shop on Tuesdays. I woke up here maybe an hour ago. Or was it two? Maybe just ten minutes.
Why is there so little air? Am I buried? I know I’m not buried, I swear I am moving. I breathe in through my nose, praying I don’t smell dirt. I smell urine and feces instead. I can’t tell if it’s mine or if someone else had been in this box before me. I go from being hungry to turning my head just in time to vomit. It’s warm as it slithers down my neck. The smell and feel of it make me hurl again. It’s a vicious cycle until my mind comes to terms that I am going to lay in my feces and vomit and I cannot allow myself to give into the repulsiveness of it.
I’m going to die. People don’t put people into boxes unless they are going to kill them. Or send them off to be sex slaves. Or… “No.” I hit the walls again. “No. no.no. no NO!!” The black market. They are going to slice me apart and sell me piece by piece. That’s why they’re shipping me somewhere. They are selling me like an animal.
As scared as I am, I can’t… I just can’t. I need to stay in control. Ryan will be alone. He’ll end up in the foster system. I need out. I have to get to my boy. “Please! Please!” I sob, “Somebody, please! Help me! Let me out!” I scream, not even words anymore, just terrified screams that originate from every inch of my body.
Then, between my cries, I hear a long, low horn. Am I on a…barge? I quiet to listen. My body weight shifts to the left. I am. I am on a barge. They are shipping me for body parts. Oh my God. God! I scrape at the wood walls trying to get out until I can’t feel my fingertips anymore. I have to get out!
The sun’s reflections bounce off each ripple in the river, making it hard for Lisa to pull her gaze from it. Not that she wants to. She reaches into her insulated lunch box and pulls out a sandwich.
Everyone else in the office went to some restaurant in the city, but Lisa takes this time to be alone and relax. Boats seem to calm her. And every day at this time, she is guaranteed to see at least one boat, the 12:00 barge that rounds the river’s corner and passes her as if to give a friendly hello. Every day she watches it while her mind wanders and the breeze twists in her hair.
The horn of the barge blows, warning other boaters that it is turning into their area. She pulls her focus from the river and places it onto the barge. She needs this boat more than ever today. Her mind is constantly on her best friend Kelly who went missing Tuesday after work. The local authorities found her car at the grocery store a few blocks from her home. Her purse was on the ground, her keys a few inches from it. They ruled out robbery and linked it to the series of missing women and men that had been taking place in their city for months. One person goes missing every day. This past Tuesday, it was Kelly. They have yet to recover any of the missing people, dead or alive.
Lisa watches it pass and forces herself to take in the strength of the structure, the beauty of the deep red metals, and the hypnotic waves pushing up and down the sides of the barge. And for just those few moments, her mind is off Kelly, and Lisa is at peace.
“Let me out!!!!”
Written by Sheryl Marasi
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