I am sure they can hear my ragged breath and pounding heart. I am afraid.
Can they smell my fear?
My heart is pounding I can feel all the fear, and resentment merging, growing, becoming beyond my control. In this moment I am a warrior. I want this fight. Even if I die here, they will remember me.
All our pain I will give it back to my tormentors. My life, my hopes, my dreams, everything dies here. This is my last stand.
The dogs have found me. They are barking and clawing at the bottom of the tree. The running of heavy footsteps follows. I can see their lanterns coming closer drawing me into the light from the safety of the shadows. At the first sight of the men who pursue us, I take a deep breath and leap.
Flying, for one second I am free.
This man before me, I remember. His image is imprinted in my every waking nightmare. The memories come rushing back, the pressure and pain pushing me down. I stagger under the weight. Flashes of light surround me almost as if they are holding me back. Sorrow and regret burn slowly. I can feel the darkness closing in.
I remember. I remember this is the man who tormented us, beat us, raped us. A thin line of light separates me from this very real monster. Anger and resentment well up deep inside me pushing me forward, I remember.
‘Why?’ What do I do now? My hand tightens unconsciously around the medallion. Hot tears course down my cheeks. If I step forward will I be able to turn back? I am so scared, so scared. I remember every moment under this man’s rule.
He is there, kneeling before me, consumed in his desire. He is obscenely clutching one of our uniforms, a lock of long black hair clutched in his fist.
I can feel others. There are other spirits here who still suffer, imprisoned by this man. Their shadows beckon me forward. Before I even realize what, I am doing I step from shadow into the light.
3rd Encounter with The Living
Tonight, the feelings are so strong I can taste salty tears and sweat. I can hear their screams, reveal in their terror. Even now when memories alone feed my desire. Solely the memory of the power over life and death, gives me the heady feel of days long gone.
Children with no protection are so precious. I could indulge my every whim without consequence. Desire and power were mine alone. I owned what every man fundamentally strives for.
“Why?” a single question breaks the silence.
I must be mistaken? It sounds like a child’s voice? How? Where is it coming from?
“Who is there?” I demand shaken.
Throwing the uniform in my hand over my exposed desire; hiding my shame. I turn, a lock of silky black hair still clasped in my hand.
“Why?” A single word is all I can utter. Before me is one who beat, starved, and raped us.
“Why?” I ask again taking another step forward.
“Who is there?” he demands.
“Why?” I scream stepping from the shadows.
His eyes widen as he seems to physically withdraw. He almost looks pitiful now, old and frail. How could one old man have inflicted so much pain?
“Heathen child, how dare you ask me why?” He screams at me shaken, spit catching in his gray scraggly beard. “What do you want?” He demands in anger.
“Why?! What was our sin that we deserved to suffer, to die before we could even live?!” Frustrated and angry, I just want to know, why?
“I owe you no explanations! I am a priest. How dare you question me? You are nothing, an Indian, a heathen, an animal.” He declares still on his knees the uniform still pressed obscenely against his waning desire.
The fear that kept me scared, the fear of this man is dissipating. His denial, his condemnation; it hurts so badly. Even more than the pain, the rage is pushing forward pushing me past reason. The shadows of the past are encroaching upon the light; devouring my sanity, my reason.
I step forward, my whole body shaking with anger. I will no longer hide in shadow.
-End part 3
This is part 3 in a 5 part series. Read Part 1 here
by Rae Rose
My name is Rae Rose and I live in the Pacific Northwest. I have always, always loved stories. I love writing, reading, listening and imaging the words coming to life. My youth was not the happiest and it is not an exaggeration when I say stories saved me more than once.
Every story I tell carries a seed of truth. Mine and of those who were not able to survive. Every story is special and personal to my heart. It is my hope that you enjoy the stories and find comfort, love, and laughter in my words.
*Rae Rose (Paiute, Mayan, Japanese) is a writer based in the Northwest. Follow her @Rae_Rose7