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  • Writer's pictureHelene Montalvo

Bleeding Gray

We breathe the same air

Are touched by the light

of the same moon

And though we bleed

the same color

We are not the same

~ Helene Montalvo ~

I’ve heard that eyes are the windows of a soul. It’s an old adage, ancient really, but I believe it is true. If you look hard enough, you might find a spark in that window, a light in which one’s true spirit lives. This light burns bright in the eyes of a curious child, but between childhood and becoming a young adult it changes, slowly withdrawing until there is no spirit left.

I try to hold on to that light, even as a whip slices through my back, its tongue biting across my skin, viciously tearing it apart. Refusing to give my punisher any sense of gratitude, I clench my teeth and hold the cry of pain pushing against the back of my throat.

Though the ways of my people have been engraved in my bones, within my heart a girl cries out. She reminds me that though our laws may bind us, they don’t have to hold us down. So I keep my spark lit, just enough to hold on to the thread of hope holding me back from exploding in a fit of thoughtlessness, and I endure the pain.

The whip slices through me again, and with it comes a grunt that betrays my resolve.

I will not give in.

By the seventh strike my body has had enough. I cross my feet and push until my body spins around to face my punisher. My wrists scream out in agony as the ropes holding them to the punishing post rips into my flesh, but I have no cry left in me. My punisher wears a red mask, its features highlighted in black. His arm is held out behind him, the whip gripped tightly in his right hand. He’s ready to inflict my eighth lashing, but he hesitates. Fingers twitch. Breath deepens.

I know what is coming.

Even so, I lift my chin and challenge the inevitable.

“Is that all you’ve got?” I manage to say.

A red mask stares back at me, its hard lines and permanent scowl the essence of enmity. The darkness covering my punisher’s eyes cannot hide his contempt for me, for behind the red mask I feel the malicious grin he affords me just before he growls, “Stupid girl,” and swings the weapon forward to kiss my cheek.

It's the last bite I feel before I’m graced with the beauty of darkness.

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