In last week’s Gloomscapes post, I was initially going to add one more picture of a broken window–the one I am posting now. But as I was looking at it, an idea started forming in my head and I concluded that not only did it deserve its own post, it deserved its own piece of fiction.
This is not meant to be a regular thing, I just got inspired. Enjoy! (Or not, as I say.)
Nobody knew how Zara got that stone.
The girls were kept in what used to be a convent. An imposing, forbidding stone building, newly installed security cameras in each corner. Thick walls, windows high and narrow, with bars on them. Little sunlight got through; the residential wing faced north. Inside, all the rooms were identical. Floors of dark hardwood, walls painted slate grey. A bed in each corner, metal-framed, with a thin mattress and an old worn-out blanket. No pillows. One single lightbulb hung from the ceiling. Heavy black doors were locked every night at nine o’clock by the guard on duty, unlocked again at six in the morning. The girls wore long grey dresses, starched white blouses with high collars and black shoes. The oldest ones were no more than sixteen years old. Those were the only ones who still remembered books, music, films and TV, videos, photographs. Now, all they were allowed to carry around was the Party Manifesto pamphlets. As if they didn’t know it by heart already, as if it hadn’t been engraved into their minds. To build and protect our homeland, be prepared. Always Prepared! Yet they carried it, every single one of them, dog-eared, covered with greasy fingerprints and doodles, here and there quotes and passages highlighted in neon colours, from the time before even neon highlighters were banned. Desperate attempts to mark their own individuality.
Afterwards, Zara’s roommates swore they didn’t notice anything unusual. Zara was a quiet girl who kept to herself. It seemed she had wandered off behind the gardener’s shed, the only place where such stones could be found, during the afternoon break, when even the strictest of teachers couldn’t deny themselves the indulgence of little rest. She hid the stone in her sock, at the back of her calf, no doubt thankful this time for the long skirt. She kept it there throughout the afternoon activities and dinner, until it was time to return to the rooms. Half an hour after the lights went out, she slipped out of her bed, clutching the stone in her hand, tiptoed to the window and with all the force she could gather in her sixteen-year-old body, smashed the glass.