IT IS suffocating. Living behind closed doors, that is. I am enclosed in a rectangular chamber; the four walls, along with the dark, squeeze every part of me. I drown myself with the sound of air drawing in and out, since it is senseless to speak for no one can hear me inside. My movements, too, are limited. Extending my arm causes scratches on my wrist when it hits the cold, scraped wall of the wooden chamber. In this confined space, I am struggling.

Although it often hurts, living under the cloak can sometimes be therapeutic. In the shadows, I create my own world. Inside, there is no judgment. There are no voices to point out the bruises my father has made. There are no eyes observing the flaunting of my hips. I hide in this space, in this darkness that is mine.

My eyes begin to dampen while they wander in the darkness—until they see light seeping in between the door’s brief rift. My chest heaves for more air as it gradually enters along with the bright beam, which creates an impression of cutting my body in half. As it touches me, the warmth invites me to go outside. I place my arms near my chest, barely seeing my fingers move in a curved fashion. Standing in front of the rift, I extend them to push the doors.

The radiance envelops my entire body, but it is welcoming rather than stifling. I feel as though I am being cradled as satin starts to wrap my ankles, up to my thighs, on both palms then around my stomach. I open my mouth and a word comes out. Freedom, it spews, tasting like honey-glazed candy melting on my tongue. The motions are no longer restrained. My right arm stretches upward to its farthest extent. My feet paddle as I find myself floating in air.

My eyes might have found it difficult to adjust to the blinding light, but I am occupied by the idea of no more hiding, of only pure delight. In this very moment, I am healed. Finally, I begin to breathe. ZYMON ARVINDALE R. DYKEE


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