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Leaving Routine


Dust dances in the twinkling moonlight, the pleasant glow filtering down to the floor in rectangular beams. Birds sing and chirp as they attempt to put their children, squawking, to rest. The cold, misty, night air is refreshing, soothing and ever familiar. On a winter's night, like tonight, the walls of your room would soak themselves with settling dew; allowing the moss to grow brilliantly. The moss adds a subtle streak of vibrancy against the dark dreary stone walls, a subtlety that did not break the accustomed atmosphere.
Every spring, the moss flourishes – painting the walls with splatters of green. Every summer, it starts to dry out – becoming a murky shade of brown. Every autumn, the moss disappears completely – leaving the walls barren, aside from the insects that crawl across its surface. In winter, it returns to life once more; a constant and familiar cycle. A familiarity that is approaching a bitter end.

Watching a hairy brown spider spin a cocoon around a helpless fly, you stretch your ghostly pale legs out towards the centre of the small room. The lack of space is comforting, the square area constantly feels like it is embracing you in a crushing hug. Shifting your arse cheeks, side to side in an attempt to get comfortable, you feel the customary stab of straw from your makeshift mattress. Reaching behind for the perpetrator, your shoulder cracks loudly, like a branch of an old withered willow tree, echoing in the confined space. Choosing to ignore the vicious straw you allow your aching back to fall onto the wonted uncomfortable bed. It is unnatural for you to still be awake at this time in the night; sleep stolen from you like another of life's tokens, lost to the omnipotent dealer.

In the corner opposite you is the room's only door, a sturdy, yet rusted, slab of thick iron adorned with bold rounded bolts. It was meant for those inside to be kept inside; it did not, however, muffle the clomping of boots from the hallway beyond it. The noise is similar to the sound your old steed made as it marched across the farm roads.
Staring down at the ground, you notice the closest beam of light has just reached the fourteenth row of dirty cracked cobblestone. Your saliva starts to evaporate at the sight of the light's position – leaving your throat as dry as the desert of your birth home. The watch route does not generally pass your cell until the sixteenth row.

A piercing pain stabs into your chest, as if a needle is weaving its way into your heart; are the guards here to take you away? The thread of the needle begins  constricting and wrapping your heart's papillary muscles into a complex knot; would they really grab you at such an hour? The string cuts into your pulmonary arteries, your entire heart feeling like it's going to explode from the  clotting blood; the footsteps are getting louder – closer, they're coming for you after all. Your heart thrashes against the tightening cord; you don't want to leave!

Leaping from the spiky bed, you rush towards the thin slit window and clutch onto the bars. Inside your cell is safe, ordinary and above all – consistent. The life cycle of the moss, the time of your meals in relation to the position of shadows and light cast through the window, the times you are accompanied out of your room to shower and interact with the same prisoners you speak to everyday on the same subjects; everything was a routine. Outside however, had always been swamped with uncertainties:
Would your crops grow each year? Would you win at poker? Would the love of your life accept your proposal? Would she be faithful? Who would she be having an affair with? Why would your old friend and your love do that to you? What would the repercussions be for crushing the bastard's head in with your farming hoe. What will await you out there, now?

With the beating of kidnapper's footsteps and your own racing heart, you gaze out the window to try and see the future that soon awaits you. Beyond the bars, and the neat orderly line of grass you pluck daily at the edge of the window's base, the world is a sickening display of colours. Like the neon lights of the casinos you once visited, the sky is illuminated in a disturbing, early morning, green. The sharp pointed mountains in the far off horizon are cast in vivid hues of purple and blue. Closer to your comfortable cubic world is an array of blood red, brain pink and waxy yellow flowers that twist and deform in the howling wind; even the neatly maintained grass, at your eye level, sways in a spiral of grotesque green.
The thought of going back to that unpredictable world causes your guts to ascend slowly up your throat. Bile worms its way through your mouth and between your teeth – threatening to explode from your lips like a geyser of sludge. You know that if you puke, the entire room will reek; instead, you force the lumpy acid back down your gullet.

You can hear the enemy almost at the entrance to your home. With your oesophagus burning from the swallowed vomit, you turn your head towards the entryway; the massive steel door seeming to have grown, now looming over you in a haunting fashion, threatening to pull you into the abyss behind it. Time suspends itself before your eyes; your heart stopping completely, wrapped in the imprisoning thread. You don't want to leave!

The footsteps pass.

Freed from its restraints, your heart sinks back into place while your limbs fall numb. Collapsing to the ground, you drape yourself across the cold comfortable cobble of your cell. When they do come for you, will they bring you a final meal? When the first ray of morning light strikes the sixth row of stones – would you get your last breakfast like every other morning? Then what, how will you get your meals after that? What will happen to you out there in the outside world?

You don't want to leave – you never want to leave.
This is a piece done for Assignment two for my Creative Writing Unit at Murdoch: 'A character in conflict'.

The short revolves around a guy in prison who doesn't want to leave the routine of prison life. I expanded a writing exercise into this. The exercise was to reveal the character's personality through setting, hence there is a fair amount of setting in this.

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September 24, 2012
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