PART five: diin
Chapter 41: The Summer Camp
DIIN woke up with a smile, to her mother’s calls. She could smell her favorite meal being prepared. She rubbed her eyes as she began to sit up, trying to clear her vision. She could feel her SKIMMA, and its soft fur, in her arms. She gave it a big hug as her eyes started to open. Her smile gradually vanished as she began to take in her surroundings. She didn’t understand any of it. Her mother was nowhere to be found, neither were the smells she was salivating over. All she saw was a mass of children, many like her, but just as many older and younger, stuffed into fenced cages. Many of them sat still, looking at the ground. Others sobbed. A number of them were crying, some quietly, some loudly. She was about to scream when a hand grabbed her and pulled her down.
“Don’t scream, DIIN. They will yell at us again. I don’t want to be yelled at anymore,” CREFY whispered.
DIIN lay down next to him, and held on to him as tightly as she held her SKIMMA. She stifled the screams, stopped them from coming out, and did her best to not give voice to the terror she felt. Her mind went back to everything that had happened, and tried to process it all. She remembered being separated from her parents. She remembered being dragged away from them despite her protests. She remembered being hosed down by a mean looking OSZA, after which she was put into a room with others like her. She remembered the relief she felt when CREFY was finally dragged into the room, how they found each other and held on to each other for dear life. She remembered the fear, and she felt it all over again. She did her best to fight back the tears, just like she had done back then.
How long ago was that? She couldn’t tell. She remembered being put on a bus. She remembered every cry from every child on it. She remembered how the cries eventually gave way to a fearful silence. She remembered how resigned everybody on the bus was, how none said a word, and yet each knew that the others felt just as lost and terrified as them. She remembered every quiet wail, every suppressed tear, every silent cry for help, every unuttered call for a parent.
How long had she been here? She had no idea anymore. She remembered walking into the facility. She remembered the kids who tried running away. She remembered the kids who tried to fight back. She remembered the kids who, like her, silently did as they were told, scared that resisting would only make things worse. She remembered how she had woken up every day after that, asking whoever she saw for her mommy and her daddy. She remembered their every reaction, how some just ignored her, while others laughed, and how most simply screamed at her. She remembered the few OSZA whose eyes had some kindness in them, the ones who were patient with her and everybody else, the ones who, when nobody was looking, gave them something better than the weird smelling food they had all had to endure.
She remembered their smiles, and them telling her to be patient, that she would be reunited with her parents soon, that she just had to be brave and get through this. But most of all she remembered their eyes, and the contrast in them when compared to what she saw in the rest of the OSZA who walked around the facility.
She remembered every time she was screamed at. She remembered how their screams made CREFY wet himself initially. She remembered how he had finally stopped after a while. She remembered every moment she had held onto CREFY to feel better about their reality, and every moment he had done the same with her.
But most of all, she remembered her parents. She remembered her mother’s face, her every touch. She remembered all the times her mother had hugged her, and every trouble and fear that she had had simply vanished away. She remembered her father’s smile, and all the times he had carried her on his shoulders. She remembered how his presence had always been enough to let her know that nothing could hurt her as long as he was around. Where were they? Why were they letting this happen to her? Why had they not come for her? Had they forgotten about her? Why had they let these mean OSZA, with their strange language, take her away?
CREFY’s hand snapped DIIN out of her thoughts. She realized that he had turned towards her, and laid the SKIMMA between them. She turned towards him, and lay on her side just like he did, looking into his eyes while his gazed back into hers. Their hands stroked the SKIMMA as they shared everything they were both going through without uttering a single word.