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Chapter 38

Sadness, despair, anger, fear, desperation, hatred, frustration, day after day was filled with these same feelings. Sadness, despair, anger, fear, desperation, hatred, frustration, again and again, I landed with a hard thump onto the mattress and allowed myself to hope for Zuri’s presence, but it was never there. Each time I shut my eyes tight and expected her to be there, to pull me out of my colorless misery with a light-hearted joke or a warm smile and yet, day after day, I was alone. Again and again, I looked up to see nothing but the other side of my dark and lonely cell. Days past, then weeks, then months, after that, I lost track of the time which trudged by as meaninglessly as the rest had. I could feel any emotions other than sadness, despair, anger, fear, desperation, hatred, or frustration simply draining away. I could barely even remember what it was like to feel happiness. I had long since forgotten what laughter sounded like or what a big, warm hug felt like.

I wondered what my friends and family were doing. I wondered what had happened when I never returned for dinner. I wanted to know what had happened when I didn’t come to school, again, and again, over and over. I wondered how the debate had gone with my absence, knowing that our team couldn’t compete without a twelfth member. I wanted to know what my parents had done. I wondered if anyone had searched for me. I wondered if there had been a funeral after a few weeks or if my family had refused to give up hope that I would return. I wanted to know if Chloe had gone to the place in the forest we had agreed upon during our “anti-government phase” if we ever were forced to hide from the government for one reason or another. I wondered if Peter missed me or if he had moved on. I wanted him to know how I felt. “I’m sorry,” I whispered to myself and wrapped my cuffed arms around my skinny legs.

I looked down at the tray filled with food which sat beside the wall. I still left two of the three broken up portions for Zuri. I don’t know why I did. Maybe it was because I needed to believe she was coming back so badly that I stuck to my traditions as I had when she was there. I needed something to feel like she was still right beside me through everything. I didn’t eat her food because she was coming back. I had to believe she was.

Suddenly, the room was flooded with light. My heart skipped a beat as I looked up, begging who or what ever was listening that it was Zuri. I looked up and watched as a small dirt-colored cloth bag was dropped into the room. Curious, I stood and walked over to the strange bag which was clearly wrapped around its mysterious contents and tied up with a faded bit of rope. I picked the rough container off of the mattress and held it in my hands for a moment before unraveling the bit of rope carefully. I looked up at the door these things had come from as if I expected that something else would fall into the room. Nothing happened. I then laid the cloth on the moist ground and spread its contents neatly on top. An old and almost completely faded book, a screwdriver, a motherboard, and several wires of different colors now laid daintily on the cloth. I picked up the book and began to read, desperate for something to do.

I quickly realized that several lines amongst the other, beautifully written, almost poetic words of the book were highlighted. I ran my finger along the scattered strips as I came across them, half-expecting something to happen, and yet, nothing did. Nothing happened. “What was I expecting?” I asked myself angrily. “That Zuri was just going to drop down with a latter and some kind of hand-cuff dampening device and rescue me from this cesspool?” I asked myself before unwillingly facing the more likely possibility, this being the fact that after one month of apprehensive waiting, I needed to accept the fact that Zuri was never returning.

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