Chapter 11: Faces In The Grave
Dripping water rolls over my face and disturbs my deep sleep.
Water drips from my lips it soothes the cracks of dryness around my mouth. My eyes open to see but I have no idea where I am. I cannot see what is laying on me and what limit my movements. The cloudy sunlight that trickles through the gaps into my face blind me from the truth, it blinds me from my reality.
While my eyes adjust to the new light, my lips suck the water in that drip onto my lips. Water from heaven, I presume that it is rain falling onto my cover that I cannot see. I try to move my hands, but the weight on top of me prevent me.
Slowly my eyes start focussing start seeing. I now see stiff eyes staring at me, eyes like those in my darkroom in my mind. I can see arms lying behind the eyes, arms that do not belong to anything living.
“I am in a mass-grave,” I think.
The weight that holds me down is that of dead bodies. I can see that some of the bodies have clothes the others are naked like me.
The water that filtered to my lips is water that trickled through all the dead bodies, contaminated water that quench my thirst, water that saved my life.
My battered body is still too weak to move the bodies on me. My abdomen muscles are stiff and without life, as if my will does not have power over them.
With cold stiff bodies covering me I feel how the sleep is crawling to my eyes I feel how my mind slips to the torture room.
Through eyes barely open I become aware of my surrounding, of soldiers now carry me through the doors that kept me captive for the past few days. I see the rusted railing next to the floor a railing that safeguards us from the three-floor drop to the ground. I see the skin of the dotted hyena-like dog hanging over the railing, possibly the meat that I chew on last night. My eyes close and I feel how the pulse of contractions rip through my body, how the electricity search demolish the nerves in my testicles.
Like a ghost I can now see from above, see the soldiers carrying me in the corridor towards the stairs. I see the red water dripping from my genitals and leaving a trail on the dirty broken floor covered in tiles.
I am now back in the dripping body again, I feel my head now lower than my torso as we start the descent down the stairs.
My eyes open and I see how the rain trickle through the two bodies above me. I feel how the water land on my lips. I move my hand to touch the body above me. The cold face with the wide staring eyes, my fingers touch the face before I push my arm past him. I am trying to push with my legs, but my legs refuse to move. The only way out will be to pull myself through the bodies above me, to drag myself up towards the raining clouds.
Towards water that did not touch the stiff cold bodies. Water that will quench my thirst and secure my new fight for survival. My arm is now between the bodies, I hook my elbow behind the head of my staring companion and start pulling my respond-less legs through the gap that my arms have created.
My head is now passing the last body.
I can see the last moments of the day. The clouds are covering the skies and cold refreshing rain is trickling over my face. I know I have to free my legs and start moving away from the grave. I need to find cover from searching eyes, eyes of the living.
I am getting aware of the smell around me the smell of garbage of smoke that originated only on a city dump.
My eyes are now searching the bodies for clothing to protect my naked body against the sharp object on the dump.
“I will have to drag my lifeless legs and body over these sharp objects with my arms,” I think while inspecting the dump.
“My arms that at this stage is the only limbs that work.”
Without the use of my legs, I do not have the luxury of choosing the best-dressed body.
“I will have to use the clothes from the closest corpse,” I think while my eyes now rest on the body right next to me, a body of a woman with a flowery dress.
The wet smoke cloud is now over me as the wind turn and blowing the garbage smell into my nose. I turn my head and I see the lifeless bodies of men and women between the rubble. Bodies that should be in covered graves probably should be in kitchens with children, with parents, with their family, bodies stolen by a civil war.
The cloud is now darker, the green tin house close to the fence has lost the shine of the rain and now only reflect the orange lights of the city in the background. The darkness of the shadows is getting longer and my time to remove the dress from the woman become shorter and shorter. In the dark, I am looking for shoes or boots to cover my feet, but none of the corpses have any footwear on.
The cloud cover tonight hides the stars that will assist me to find direction. Soaking rain, body fluids, and rubble have stained the dress, and I struggle to remove it from the stiff body. I try to use both arms but if I do my top of my torso is not supported and it goes too low to see.
Little dots fly like small insects before my eyes, as if my eyes were exposed to too much light, through the light dots I see how my hand now slips the dress over the ladies head, how the removal of the dress expose the wounds on her chest, wounds that gave her an escape from this hell hole, from the trauma that she must have endured. For a moment my heart feels pain for the body, for the family without a daughter. For the children without a mother, the feeling is now moved into my darkroom in my mind and I pull the flowery dress over my head. With difficulty I slip into the dress, every now and then I have to use my one hand to assist, to pull the dress straight so that I can slide further into my new protection, my new dress from the chambers of a mass-grave.
In the twilight of the last light, I see a cardboard box a few meters away. My arms are now dragging me towards it. Towards more protection against the assaulting objects on the dump. With limb legs, my arms now propel me, move me through the rubble towards freedom.
My body now roll onto the flattened box until my stomach lies on it. I find a few pieces of string and box ties in the rubble with my fingers and start to tie the box around my shoulders. The process requires time; due to the inabilities of my legless body that only rely on the movement of my arms.
With a new dress and a cardboard shield attached to my shoulder, I am ready to leave the staring eyes, the faces in the grave behind. I am ready to leave the dump. Leave the smoke and the smell.