I’m not sure how long I’ve been here. Time has lost its meaning since I discovered this sanctuary, forced my way in, and secured the place, making sure no one would be able to follow me.
Mind you, this is not a bad place. I have a roof over my head, clean water to drink, and the vegetation gives me both a soft place to sleep and fruit to eat. I’m neither warm nor cold. All of these are positives, things I yearned for and never thought I might find, so why is my stomach knotted up with anxiety? Why am I sure the apparent peace surrounding me is a sham, a ploy to give me a false sense of security?
“Hello!” I shout out the word, breaking the silence. The same silence that comforted me when it first enveloped me. Before I fell asleep, when the light disappeared, I had been sure I was safe here. As soon as I opened my eyes I knew that was no longer true. I have no idea why my perception changed, can’t put my finger on the disparity between then and now, but something is different.
Soft giggling pulls me out of my thoughts. The laughter is high pitched and happy. Then I hear soft footfalls but I can’t pinpoint where the sound is coming from until I look up at the ridge running parallel with the lowest window. There! What’s that?
I look on in wonder as what appears to be a youngster skips along the narrow, shelf-like feature. He or she, I can’t tell from here, squeals louder with every hop, skip and jump. I can’t watch, for reasons I don’t understand I’m terrified to discover I’m not alone after all.
I push my back against the large rock, making myself as small as possible before closing my eyes, hoping that if I can’t see my visitor I’ll be invisible too. The giggling changes, becomes louder and turns menacing. Memories assault me.
I’m running, fleeing something I can’t see but hear all too well. My pursuers are getting closer, I can hear their feet hitting the ground and without turning my head to look, I know they’re almost upon me. I need to find refuge. I don’t want to die. I…”
“You can hide but you can’t stay hidden.”
The voice singing the words is beautiful, mesmerizing, urging me to reveal myself so that I can admire its owner. Then it’s joined by a second voice, a third, a multitude of timbres combining until they reach a breathtaking cresendo.
The word is spoken so close to my ear I can feel the speaker’s breath caress my cheek. Instinct takes over and I open my eyes. I’m surrounded by a group of youngsters, all grinning at me, their eyes hard and accusing.
As soon as they pull the black hood over my head and tie my hands behind my back I remember. There’s nothing wrong with them…it’s me. I turned twenty-one last night.
As they pull me up and lead me away my mind clears from the fog it has been shrouded in for longer than I care to recall. I failed… I grew up. There’s no room for adults in this world. I never wondered where they went. I guess I’m about to find out now.