This Prison We Share

“Can we carry this love that we share
Into the open air?” (x)

As Anna’s fury began to drain away, like the puddles after thunderstorms, she was left with emptiness, no feeling but the throb of her cheekbone. The silent rooms around her yawned out, the music that Cally loved so much silenced. That was all her fault. She’s destroyed the music, and laughed as she did so; and the expression on her face would be something Anna remembered forever.

Oh gods, what had she done? She hadn’t meant to push the girl so hard, to cut her so deeply. Months of being cooped up on house arrest were driving her wild, but Cally was sweet and vulnerable. Snapping on her was like taking a magnifying glass to ants and watching them burn, for a lack of more interesting things to do.

Anna slipped out of the doorway, treading past the evidence of their fight; Cally’s broken records, lying smashed on the stone floor. Never again would their music fill the rooms, removing their grim reality and replacing it with hope. Now the walls pressed in, a reminder of the prisoners they were.

Anna slipped inside the room, moving to the end of the bed. In the gloom, Cally’s form was a dark island in the white seas of sheets. Even asleep, her forehead was tied up in unhappiness, and the moonlight illuminated silver tears trails staining her cheeks. She looked broken, tiny in the expanse of the room. The girl was so coiled up within herself, it seemed like a desperate attempt to hide; to make herself less of a target. Anna looked at her, and the dam inside her broke.

“Oh, gods.” Her voice, riddled with guilt, shattered the words. Lifting up the sheets the girl slid in, pressing herself to Cally’s back, wrapping her arms around her protectively. The girl stirred.

“I’m so sorry,” Anna whispered, again and again. “I’m sorry, Cally.” She was trying to heal wounds with words, perfectly well knowing nothing she said would be enough. “Cally, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” The girl in her arms turned to face her, her hair dark in the moonlight. Cally’s fingers brushed against her girlfriend’s cheek, where the bruise was already swelling. She said nothing. Burying her face in Anna’s shoulder, her thin fingers dug in and clung, and she drifted off to sleep.

Anna stayed awake. The fragile body in her arms, so tiny and easy to miss, was infinitely precious. She kissed her cool forehead, wishing she could smooth out the worries that lingered there. How long will the two of them remain like this, locked up in this tiny cage? With Anna as the feral beast and Cally a mouse of a girl, there can surely be only one ending to this story. Anna shiverd, holding the girl close, and wished things were different.

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Division

“When they ask, your gun jammed.”

Michael’s words are so softly spoken that my ears struggle to hear; and even when the words do register, I think I’ve misunderstood him. “What?” I hiss, confused.

His eyes flicker from the guard and back to mine. “They’ll want to know why you didn’t make the kill,” he says silently. “You have to be ready with an explanation.”

I’m aghast, and lean in towards Michael. “But – I can’t lie to Division!” I tell him, my voice a terrified whisper. “They’ll know!”

He shakes his head slightly, a tiny movement. His expression is sober, his gaze staring off into the distance, fixed on a point I can’t recognise. “And if they discover you couldn’t kill the target, what then?”

I swallow, the full weight of what I’ve done slamming home. I couldn’t pull the trigger. My target was at my mercy, knelt before me, begging for his life… and I couldn’t do it. Michael’s right, of course – if Division finds out, they’ll have no use for me. According to the government, I don’t exist – so they’ll be no problem in getting rid of me.

Heavy footsteps break me from my horrified thoughts. They crash down the corridor and the cell door flies open. The burly man standing there completely fills the doorway, scowling down at me from the ceiling.

“Bring the girl,” he grunts. The guard who’s been watching us grabs me. His hand is a vice around my arm, yanking me off my feet and out of the cell.

My last thought is to look back for Michael, for an answer, for some kind of reassurance. His dark eyes bore into mine, as serious as I’ve ever seen him. His chin dips in a nod just as the cell door slams shut, and I am left alone with the guard – and a decision to make.

Do I lie or do I confess? Exactly how far can I trust Division?