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I’ve been trying to recall a time before this, and I just can’t. My whole life feels like a prison sentence. But I wouldn’t know what prison felt like because I wouldn’t know what not prison feels like.

All I know is this cell. And all I feel is how badly I want out.

I’m not sure what I did to deserve this. Again, as far as I recall, I didn’t do anything to warrant internment because I didn’t do anything at all. Because as far as I recall, I’ve been trapped here.

Walls all around me, keeping me penned in. Where I know nothing else but my body and this container.

If dark is merely the absence of light and I don’t know what light is, then it must be dark in here. I can’t fucking see anything. Or perhaps I’ve lost my vision. Perhaps I never had it to begin with.

I can’t remember the last time I ate something. Or perhaps I’ve never eaten. Perhaps I’m empty or full or both. I wouldn’t know the difference.

The air in here may not be air at all. Whatever it is that surrounds me is so thick and damp, only adding to my feelings of confinement. And though I don’t know what the alternative would be, I know I don’t want to be here, curled up in an inescapable wetness, where my skin is the only thing I can feel.

I never asked for this.

I want out, or I want to be nothing. I just want this endless loop to close, come what may. I need something different. I can’t take this feeling of suffocating but never dying. If I could end it, I would. But I can’t end something I never started.

This is my eternity. It is what it always was. There are no days or nights. Only walls that seem to close in on me, tighter and tighter with the passage of time. Time, which is constant and nothing.

I have no choices at all. It makes me wish I never existed.

I hear sounds—distorted but ominous—outside the wall. Sounds that wake me when I’m sleeping. Sounds that are the only way I know there’s anything beyond this wall. They’ve always been there, as long as I can remember.

Away, I can hear a constant but distant drumbeat, keeping time or leading an uprising. I hear garbled words but can’t quite make them out. Different tones, coming from every direction. I don’t know what they’re saying. But I do know one thing.

Someone knows I’m here.

Someone nearby. Someone just watching and waiting. But for what? To make their move? For me to make mine?

Friend or foe? Hero or villain? Intruder or liberator? Or might it be just another prisoner, trapped inside another set of walls, calling to me for help?

For as long as I can recall, I’ve been kicking and clawing, trying to get out of this place any way I can. I’ve made no progress. I’ve started and ended in what feels like exactly the same place and time.

I just can’t take it anymore. I don’t know what’s on the other side of the wall, but it can’t be worse than this feeling of confinement. Of solitude. Of loneliness. Of having no control.

I did nothing to warrant being here. I didn’t choose this. I didn’t ask for this. I don’t deserve this. I don’t want to exist. Or maybe that’s not it at all. Maybe the only thing I want is to exist.

Then, suddenly, I feel not this. I feel something different than absolute nothingness. A force is pulling me downward. It is awesome and mighty, but terrifying. But I don’t fight it. I let it take me over. I’ve never been in control. Why start now?

The force grows stronger, and I’m no longer just falling. My body is pushed, squeezed, and wrung with violence like I’ve never imagined. I don’t know where I’m going.

I’m lost. I’m upside down. I’m drowning.

This must be the end. This is how I go. From nothing, to nothing, for nothing.

And then, something more than nothing.

It is the most I have ever felt, and it is all at once, and it is liberty, and it is beautiful, and it is terrible, and it is everything.

For the first time, the sounds and the voices are not outside. I am.

I am screaming. I am sound. I am breath. I am light. I am here. I am me. I am.

Born on the 31st of October.

Trick-or-treat, mother.

Kelaine Conochan

The editor-in-chief of this magazine, who should, in all honesty, be a gym teacher. Don’t sleep on your plucky kid sister.

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