Prisoner

To Amelia, the passing of time was important.

She stood proud as you please in the center of us, pointed her finger toward a blue sky we could only imagine, and declared: The eyes of posterity never blink. It knows who turns the keys in these locks and it will remember who shoveled dirt onto the bodies of our men.

The bit of illumination she followed was long and thin, taunting us through an arrow loop in the donjon wall the way guards sniggered through the iron bars. Long after the rest of us let go, she held on, tightly squeezing blood from welts and knife wounds to make one demarcation for dawn and another for dusk.

Dawn was easiest, not only for her but for all of us. The light would suddenly be there. Brilliant, even though without warmth. Tantalizing, even though unreachable.

Nightfall was harder, was always harder. Crying grew louder. Shrieking echoed off stone. Screams couldn’t be unheard no matter what we used to seal our ears. Amelia sprinkled a few drops where she thought the sun vanished. Coming back each day to scatter more, over and over. Loss of her drawing medium was never issue. What scabs dried and fell off one day would quickly be replaced, until finally she shouted triumphantly: Here. Right here. This is where day ends.

The next morning, they took her away. We sat quietly, watching the track of sunlight creep over the dirty, bare floor. They never brought her back.

I ask you: Does it matter where the shame lies, once the righteous are lost?