That’s the color I am most familiar with. Call it black, if you must. But to me, it’s just darkness. I don’t know how long I’ve been in here, I don’t know how old I am. Time is tricky to tell when you’ve lived in a bunker almost all of your life. I’m forgetting what the sky looked like. With the clouds and the sun. They’re all just names to me now. I hear my mother tell me stories of what it was like above. I long to leave this small place underground, this hideaway that’s far from the world I used to live in. But my father says it’s just too dangerous. I don’t press, I know I won’t get an answer on why.

The candle’s hardly do anything to brighten the corridors. They are just a low haze in my growing boredom. By now, I can see in the dark. I heard that, above ground, the sky can be so bright you have to squint your eyes. I heard that the earth is full and goes on for miles and miles while I’m stuck here. I’ve been to every place in this bunker already, times five. 

Mother says it’s not a house. Houses are above. Father gets mad-sad when he sees her upset. He wants to keep us safe and mom knows this but she still misses the place that she used to call home. Heck, I heard that there is even this giant bowl of water. My mother said it was salty and that it goes on forever. It’s green until you look out and all you see is navy blue. I wish I could see all that. I also heard that there are other colors than brown and gray and black and dull. There are blue and yellow and pink and bold. But I am accustomed to this place. I am accustomed to living in darkness. I am accustomed to this tiny world I now live in. Trapped in a life of lock down. 

Mother tries her best to mix and match the canned foods. She goes on about how her mother used to go out to dinner with her. How she would make burgers and biscuits and all these full meals. But I still like the food we have here. I mean, it’s all I’ve ever eaten. 

I go through the hallway to my little room to play a game of solitaire. That word, solitaire, depicts our life here, by ourselves. But this, I’ve grown used to as well. I guess the world can’t always be sunshine and rainbows. Actually, I guess it could never be that. After solitaire, I go to the room my dad spends most of his time in, the game room. He’s already waiting for me. We always play chess. It’s our favorite game though I still can’t beat him. It’s no surprise when he is the one to say “Checkmate” before we leave the room for something to eat. Blueberry jam, strawberry jam, elderberry jam, marmalade, blackberry jam, apple butter, cranberry jam, ginger jelly. Beans, more beans, corn, canned apricots, canned peaches, canned string beans, more canned string beans, and chocolate. I grab my favorite, chocolate of course. Dad tells me it’s an above ground delicacy. I only take a few pieces, to ration it for duller days. We don’t eat much here. But what do I know when I haven’t seen how much people eat up there. 

Bored. A word that is so familiar. You can find me mentioning it at least twice a day. My dad says to just play a game with my cards. All I ever do is play games with my cards. I sigh and go to my room anyway.

It’s not a work of art, though I try to make it. Last time my mom came into my room she almost fainted. I draw. Like, all over the wall. However, she just closed her eyes and excused it. Said that it was my room and I’ve got to do something. I laughed quite hard at this memory. I thought I was in SO much trouble. Her face, I mean, it was a comedy. I looked at my steel wall, all covered in black ink. At least the drawings weren’t bad, or I think so. It’s full of bubbly letters and random shapes and distant memories of the world above I had to capture before I forgot. The biggest was of a tree. That’s what my mom said it was. A tree. It had long limbs and these small tear-shaped objects hanging and falling off them. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever remembered. When I run out of empty space, I won’t care. I’m going to just do tiny dots in any place left with the marker I have in my hand. 

Education. My parents insisted on it. We have a whiteboard (also fun to draw on) that she used to teach me the alphabet and numbers with. I liked learning. It gave me another thing to do.  I also thought it was hilarious how my mother would occasionally indulge in yoga after my thirty minute classes. I joined her when she did it though, (yes, that’s what they call a hypocrite but whatever), laughing the whole time at my unbalance. That’s about the only time I have laughed in a long time. I can only say a long time because we don’t actually know how much time has passed. You’d think we’d ought to have thought to grab a clock or something on our way here. 

The thing I like the best in this place is the books, though I’ve read all of them. It’s a small room with an arrangement of rugs and white-gray pillows. I can only read for a certain amount of time before I get a headache. I try to sit by a candle every time I’m in here. It’s a calming aesthetic. Nice and quiet, cool and warm on times when you need it to be one or the other. This is the room with the most candles. Scents of lavender, vanilla and dirt encompass me as I sit beside the dusty chestnut bookshelf. I ponder among which to open. I choose Little Women, a classic as my father says. These books take me away from the bunker. Into someplace lighter and more exciting. To a place of adventure and action. I am transported to their world. The world I used to see but don’t remember. Sometimes even ones that don’t really exist at all but in your own mind. My mother finds it funny when I have to ask her what some of the objects the books describe are. Stapler, a gun that connects paper together with a paperclip. A telescope, used to see the stars that rest on the night sky. Stars, balls of gas that illuminate the above ground sky when darkness falls. Computer, a machine that holds almost all knowledge. And so on and so forth. My mother actually enjoys recollecting the information of the things that she used to see. I find comfort in her words. She tells them in the way that she would read me a bed-time story when I was younger. 

Ah, sweet old time. I have loads of it. Well, I feel that I have loads of it. I grew up with just a backpack, teddy bear and a soccer ball as my toys. However, the soccer ball was taken away from me when I turned nine and we were still keeping track of time. I wouldn’t stop kicking it against the wall. 

I sit on my bed. I close my eyes and breathe, imagining the sun on my face as I sit in a tree, its limbs handling me in a wide embrace. I taste the salt in the air from the sea. Then, I lift my lids.


It can’t settle inside because you live with what you got, you know what I mean?

I don’t remember a place other than this one, the one where I grew up.

Of course, at times, I’ll hate it.

I’ll long to be on the surface.

But, for now, I’m here.

This is where I live, this is the world I’ve adapted to.

I just have to find the light in the dark corners.

March 08, 2021 22:41

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

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