• The Book

    I feel bad about stealing this book yet I have no regrets. I have no use for it, but I suppose it’s my way of rebellion. If I get caught, they will punish me. I hate this ‘orphanage’ as they call it. But what do they do? Sit on their butts and make us do everything. Cook, clean, we’re no better than slaves! One of the other kids saw me writing in this and asked if it was my diary. I said no, but I guess it is. I don’t want to feel like I’m talking to myself, so you will be my invisible friend, someone who will listen and not object. I sound nuts. Am I losing it? Oh, but my friend, you don’t know my name. Cassandra. Perhaps I should write ‘Property of Cassandra’ on the cover but then they will know it is mine… I need an escape from this place, this bleak spot where kids are slaves. They’re making their rounds, I can hear their footsteps. I will continue in the morning.

    Mary spilt juice on the youngest ‘caretaker’ (named Rose, but Thorn would be more fitting of her) and Rose threw a tantrum. I’ll write what happened.

    “You little <dirty word>! You spilt juice over my new dress! <Insulting word> girl, so disrespecting, <unintelligent word> urchin.” Rose screamed. The little pest! Mary was close to tears. Rose was yelling at a 8 year old. She can yell at me, I’m 14, but not little Mary. I couldn’t take it. I walked up to Rose, stared in her eyes, and smacked her. Felt good, but I knew no dinner tonight, maybe no breakfast. I thought that was the worst they could do, but I was wrong. Rose stood, screamed, and a man appeared with a whip. A man! With a whip, yeah, but a man! Rose told him to whip me, he pulled a face but did it. He whipped my hand twice but Rose tore the back off my dress and told him to whip me there too. That little-… Perhaps I should just continue.

    I should explain why I was excited to see a guy though. This orphanage accepts guys, but keeps them separate from us. I don’t know why, it seems stupid, but I guess to torture us. That’s all they do, torture us. But back to the story.

    She had me whipped till I bled. When she was content, the man bowed, scooped me up and started to walk away. Rose screamed after him.

    “Where are you going with that mutt!?”

    The man stopped, turned and answered.

    “To the infirmary. Her wounds must be treated, or she’ll bleed to death.” his voice was deep, but gentle.

    I was starting to feel lightheaded by then but this was I was thinking while I was bleeding in his arms.

    He’s so gentle, he shouldn’t be forced to do this.

    My own stupidity amazes me. And yet to make matters worse, I also said this:

    “M-my book. I h-have to have my b-book.”

    But he just smiled and nodded. He laid me down gently on a bed and a nurse ran up and started to treat my wounds. He returned shortly with the purple book and I gushed my thanks. As he turned to leave, I shouted after him: “What’s your name?” He halted and turned, smiling to me. “Maika.”

    Do I have friend? Where does he live? Will he help me escape this prison? Will he come too? This is getting me nowhere. Perhaps I’ll get lucky tomorrow and escape. I can only pray to those gods they worship here. Some very stupid gods might I add. One for doors, another for rocks, a god of ponds, and so on. It really amazes me.

    There is one good thing that has come out the whipping though. I don’t have to work. Oh, someone’s coming…

    Seems Rose is whip happy. Another boy was carried in last night. (By Maika might I add) I never described Maika did I? Tall, dark skinned with shoulder length black hair, forest green eyes, about 19, and muscular. He seems to like dark colored clothes too. Which doesn’t fit his personality. Well, of what I’ve seen of it, anyways. The boy he carried in was unconscious. When he set him down the boy moaned. Maika had a solemn look on his face, like he wished he never had to do this. When he turned around he noticed me, looking concerned.

    “Rose wouldn’t let me take him here as fast as I had you.” He said before I could ask.

    “Oh… Will he be alright?” I asked.

    Maika shook his head. “I don’t know.”

    “What’s his name?” I asked, quiet stupidly.

    “Caleb. He tripped while holding a cake and lets just say Rose didn’t like her new, ah, look.” He smiled in amusement but the smile faded. “I wish I didn’t have this job, but it’s my own fault.”

    “How’d you get it.” I asked, puzzled.

    “I tried to leave this place but they caught me.” He replied.

    I froze, a new doubt hitting me like a wave. What if I fail at escaping and am forced to punish kids?

    “What will they do to you if you don’t whip us?” Did I mention I hate my curiosity?

    “Kill me. But I feel like I need to stay alive to help others escape.” He replied, looking out the window. He turned back to me. “Afraid I never caught your name.”

    “Oh, Cassandra, but call me Cass.”

    Maika smiled at me. “You seem like a rebellious type. Perhaps we’ll meet again.” And with that he walked out of the infirmary.

    I was puzzled. Can I trust Maika? And is it really that hard to escape? I’ll have to find out more before I escape. Perhaps Maika can help with that, but how do I know can trust him? I seem to be repeating myself. Hope you don’t mind, my invisible friend.

    I should get some sleep. Perhaps something amazing will happen tomorrow. But with my life, I seem to be doomed to be a servant girl.

    Another bleak day, but no more kids have been sent here. Perhaps Rose is being punished for whipping Caleb, who has yet to awaken. I do worry about him. He’s as old as Mary, it seems. But Mary is luckier. Someday, I will get my revenge on Rose, even if my revenge is as simple as a punch, or escaping from her clutches.

    I seem to be thinking dark thoughts. Perhaps it’s my solitude here… I should ask for some books but word would reach Rose and who knows what she would do. With her controlling the ropes of my life, I won’t be able to do anything. I’ll sever those ropes someday, but who knows when that will be. Since there is nothing new here guess I’ll try to sleep.

    He’s awake! Caleb opened his eyes, jumped, then relax when he noticed me. A look of puzzlement clouded his face as he looked around the infirmary. I never described this boy. He has light brown scruffy hair with crystal blue eyes. He’s very thin too.

    “You’re in the infirmary.” I said helpfully.

    “Oh…” Was all he said.

    He still seemed puzzled, like he didn’t know what had happened to him. Was his whipping that bad? And why was mine so gentle if I hit her and he just got cake on her face? This place is turning into a complicated puzzle, and I hate puzzles. Anyways, perhaps he really doesn’t remember what happened.

    “From what I heard, Rose had you whipped because you tripped while holding a cake and it landed on her face.” I said after a moment.

    Suddenly his face lit up and pure delight donned it. His eyes filled with happiness and I wished I hadn’t said anything. Then anger flared up.

    Watch out Rose, for the wicked shall be struck down. If another child is carried in, I will personally get that accursed whip and use it on your face.

    I was amazed by own ferocity. And I had no reason for anger.

    What is happening to me? I slap Rose and this is what I’m thinking!

    It’s like that whipping unlocked Pandora’s Box inside me. Rose has brought out the worse in me and I’m starting to fear myself. And to make matters worse, I don’t know who my family is. They could be killers or the sweetest people in the world. I’ve been here since I can remember. A new thought just popped in my head. If I’ve been here since I can remember, then they made me who I am.

    I should get some sleep. Besides, Caleb isn’t talkative. I can’t believe he’s so happy about an accident. I would have laughed in her face. Maybe he would feel better if I told him why I was whipped, but it may just depress him. I’m not very good with people, I really keep to myself. Maybe that’s why I’m so easily angered. I seem to be my own puzzle. The light’s fading outside and they hate it when you have a candle burning. This place’s rules annoy me but I have to follow them or be punished. Better get to sleep before they start their rounds.

    I awoke to sobbing. I looked over and noticed Caleb holding his head, crying. Pity washed over me and I felt I had to do something. I don’t know why, I’ve seen kids smaller than him cry and didn’t do anything. Did the whip awaken feelings that I had buried years ago? Rose had better stay on her toes. Anyway, I turned to him and said this:

    “If you feel bad about tripping and covering Rose with cake, she had me whipped because I slapped her for yelling at Mary.”

    He stared at me and then surprised me. He burst out laughing. Perhaps he wasn’t such a little kid, maybe he was older then 8.

    “They think it was an accident? They really are stupid!” He said, still laughing.

    “What?” I replied oh so charmingly.

    “I’ve been stuck here for 7 years and I’m 13. I remember my family and I refuse to be a slave. They’ll have to whip till I die before I serve them.” He replied rebelliously.

    I had this kid all wrong. Hid small frame only made him look young. I just had one question though.

    “Do you ever think about escaping?” I asked brilliantly.

    “Everyday. I’ve watched them on guard and know when there’s a gap.” He answered.

    “So why haven’t you escaped?” I asked.

    “Supplies. There’s no way I can get enough to last me to the next city.” Caleb replied, “That and the Trackers.”

    “The Trackers?” I echoed, puzzled.

    “They chase all kids who escape. It’s nearly impossible to escape them. Very few have, but it is possible.” He said, glancing out the window.

    Another question popped into my mind.

    “Why were you crying?” I asked.

    “They do have a guard posted, but he always falls asleep at this time of day. But others do pass by, so when they hear me crying, they think they’ve really hurt me.” He answered, smiling.*

    “That’s… Brilliant! Maybe I could help you. I know someone who could get us the supplies.” I said. (I meant Maika, of course. If he‘s willing.)

    Caleb’s face lit up, then faded.

    “If you mean Maika, no dice. He tried to help me last time and he got stuck with that awful job.” He replied, real tears pooling in his eyes.

    He really regrets giving Maika that job. I regret not being able to trust anyone just by looking at them. I have so many faults, but I have to wonder: which are my good faults?

    “I don’t think Maika hates you for it. If I understand, he tried to escape with you, not forced.” I said, trying to sound happy.

    “Thanks.” He smiled, “But I convinced him to come with me. It is my fault.” His eyes filled with more sadness, if that’s possible.

    I felt so helpless. I couldn’t convince Caleb that it wasn’t his fault. I was also speechless to make matters worse. I mean, Maika has probably had that job for a year now (which was the last time I got in trouble) and Caleb still blames himself? Maika is such a nice guy, he wouldn’t hold a grudge unless it was serious. (If anyone, it would be whoever gave him the job, not why.) My lack of social involvement doesn’t help either.

    And I think Caleb knew that.

    “I’m tired so I’m just going to get some sleep.” And he rolled over. A few moments later I could hear soft breathing. He’s still sleeping as I write this. The light’s fading, again, so I should get some rest, too.

    I’ve been told that I’ll be let out tomorrow, or going back to work. And, to make it all worse, I’m to be ‘taken care of’ by Rose. (a.k.a. serving her) Wonderful. Apparently, Rose personally asked to be my caretaker. This can only lead to trouble.

    And worse, Caleb, perhaps my only friend, won’t be let out for another week and I won’t be allowed to visit. My stomach churns at this, but I don’t know why. Why is life so hard to figure out? I’m lost with no way out.

    I don’t want to sleep so tomorrow won’t come, but I can’t control time. That’s life. Always moving, never stopping for anything or anyone. I want to make every moment with Caleb matter but there’s nothing I can do here. The only thing I can think of is escaping and taking him with me. But the Trackers cause a problem.

    Is there no way out of this prison? Am I really stuck her for the rest of my life? My eyes are drooping and it seems I will have to sleep. Curse my body’s weariness. Tomorrow starts my horrible new life.

    My back still aches from the whipping but it’s heal fully. And there seems to be a new rule. Boys and us girls now work and are able to talk together, but we can‘t go into our rooms together. I don’t know why. Perhaps they think we will do something we’re not suppose to. Which means I’ll be able to see Caleb and maybe Maika everyday! My heart swells at this. The Orphanage (yes, that is it’s new name) is getting lazy. They aren’t even doing the monthly room search. I can gather supplies and hide them now. They’re just begging me to escape.

    Or is it a trap? The Orphanage isn’t that smart. I will escape soon and Caleb is coming with me, and Maika if possible.

    I can’t take it! I’ve been being nice to Rose so that I won’t look like I’m trying to escape but she’s just asking me to hit her!