Nov 23


I'm terrified of the dark. I can tell you that for a fact. It's a deep seated root of my trauma, from fighting in a war I never should have fought in, from watching people I loved fall around me, my memory still fresh of that feeling, that ache. It was always at night. No one attacks during the day. If you're a war leader worth your salt, you know. It's why I almost kiss the ground every time I see the sunlight come through my windows, the waft of free-falling sun-beam fuzz a familiar sight. 
It's horrid, I can tell you that. I can never get my feet out from under me when I end up in a dark room, can never manage to get any air, to just calm down and breathe, and tonight is no different, the feeling of my lungs crushing behind my chest, inky blackness blooming all around my eyes, a dreaded, but no less suprising, weight. 
I swallow, my heart in my throat. "Sapatia," I manage to croak out, my breathing labored. I try not to sob. I'm reminding myself that I only use her full name when I actively want to die. God. Death. Infinitely better than this. "Where are you?" 
My older sister's voice comes out of nowhere, serving to make me jump in horror and regain a grain of sanity, all at once. "I'm behind you, idiot." 
I told once that teasing me like we're still okay helps ground me. Thank God she remembers. 
Her hand finds mine, and I clutch desperately at it, anchoring myself in her, from my fear, her short fingers wrapping around my long ones in the dark. 
"Don't leave," I whisper, my voice pushing against my throat. "Please."
"I have to, Q. It's the only way out." 
"Quinlen, you have to trust me.
I take a breath, knowing that she's right. Hating it. "I hate this."
Yeah, exactly. 
"I know, love." 
"Don't let go of my hand." 
"Like"--I curse, so loudly in the empty room, it reverberates back to me and makes my skin shiver--"I am." 
"Good." Her voice isn't soft. It's biting. But I can hear the tremor behind her words. She might not be as affected as me, but she went through the stupid war, too. She knows. She's not going to let me go. 
"Follow me," she whispers, and her hands start to pull me forward. I stumble blindly, following, clenching my fingers around what I can feel is her wrist. 
She stops, and I slam into her back. 
"What?" I whisper, digging my nails into her skin. 
"Door," she whispers back, gently prying my fingernails out of her flesh (sorry, love). "It's right here." 
"Is that how we're going to escape?" 
"Not if you keep talking about it." 
I slam my mouth shut and push her lightly with two fingers. She gets the message, and I can hear skin against wood as she slides her palms against the door. 
Something clicks. 
"I found the lock." 
Thank fu-
"And it's unlocked, but something's wrong." 
"We're going to have to kick it open." 
Oh. Right. Yep. Okay. I knew that. 
Yeah, I'm not so smart under pressure/and or my crippling fear of the dark. 
"We push on three." 
I nod, then remember she can't see me, and whisper, "Yes," into her ear. 
I shuffle so that I can feel her shoulder pressing against mine and settle my palms on the oak. 
"One," she whispers. We push. 
"Two." The door groans under our conjoined weight, and I can feel it slowly dragging open. 
"Three." The door edges open, and light pours through. 
The door flies open, and light absolutely floods the room, lighting up her face and hitting me so hard in the face my eyes sting. 
We fling ourselves out and bolt down the corridor. 
"Where are we going?!" I call to her, even though she's sprinting right alongside me. 
"Anywhere! Just not here!" 
I follow her out. I follow her anywhere. 

About the Author: infinitelyinfinite3
Brown person, LGBTQIA+ member, overthinker, and book and music lover. I am not afraid of the Oxford comma. You shouldn't be, either.