I’ve figured out which part of me is currently hostage.
It’s the pit in my stomach when I think of my cousin Emma. Her eyes have been glazed over for two months now and she shakes constantly. She evades my questions and has developed a slight twitch.
I didn’t realize my worry was hostage until I went to tell my mother. As soon as I entered her room, my heart felt constricted and my breathing quickened. Heat flooded my body and, head light, I knew. I wouldn’t be able to say a word. Foolishly, I opened my mouth: a final test. I tried to say her name, Emma, but no sound came. I swallowed and sat down on the edge of her bed.
My mother’s eyes had filled with worry. “Are you...okay?”
I looked up. Shrugged.
Understanding passed and my mother’s worry became familiar sorrow. She sat down beside me, curling an arm around my shoulder. “I’m sorry, Lakin. Whatever it is, I love you. You know that, right?”
My body had started to melt and I managed a soft, “I know.”
Her love for me wasn’t the problem, though. Emma’s safety was the problem. This piece of hostage worry seemed particularly cruel. Couldn’t The Guardians take something else? Something superficial, something with less effect?
We sat in silence, the air in the room suffocating our thoughts. Too many moments ended like this: silent, empty. Gaping holes, missing pieces, unasked questions. We wore invisible chemical chains, all of us slaves to the guardians.