by Jay Willett ’20
“Psssssst, are you awake?” the girl whispered low across the cell to her prison mate. The boy twitched his leg slightly and grunted in affirmation. This response sparked irritation in the girl; she shook her chains and shackles so that they clattered against the base of the back wall. The absence of windows and light made it impossible for the girl to know if her efforts were awakening the boy, until he finally replied.
“Enough already, I’m trying to sleep,” said the boy in exasperation. The girl sighed and wiggled along the cold cobblestone so that her chains would reach their maximum extension. She had never touched the boy due to the limits of her binds. They would only allow her reach to the midsection of the cell—just short of the parallel wall to which the boy was shackled upon. Nonetheless, the girl tested the durability of the metal by yanking the iron weights towards her comrade. No luck, but the movement caused her quite a pain in the ankles.
“Please,” the girl pleaded, “I’m tired of the nightmares.” Sounds of clinking and scrapping emitted from across the chamber.
“I am too—but we need the rest,” the boy exhaled.
“D-do you think the maester-”
“No,” interrupted the boy. The girl ceased and crossed her legs sitting down. She wrinkled her nose and made a face of displeasure, not that he’d see it anyway. The boy had told her plenty of stories about his life before he was her cellmate, about the Reach, about the everglades. He had told her how his mother, who was also a brunette, made the best lamb stew on the west side of the continent. The girl loved his stories, but she always hosted an afterthought of sorrow wedged deep behind her heart. She was often jealous the boy had those memories, for she could never remember anything at all. But that’s why the boy was so important to the girl—he was her portal to the outside world.
“Please tell me a story—I can’t go to sleep like this,” the girl cried. “The horror is still there.” There was silence for a moment, and then the shackles shifted again.
“It’s not still there, the maester sees to it.”
“But it is!” The girl rose her voice. She didn’t mean to yell at the boy. The boy sighed as if he understood she hadn’t meant it.
“Close your eyes,” the boy instructed.
“Why? I can’t see-”
“Just do it,” the boy said. So the girl closed her eyes and held her breath. When she was awake, she could see nothing, but when she was asleep—she saw everything. But just then, with her eyes shut, the girl began to see them again. She began to scream incessantly, tears flowed from her grey pupils. Straining could be heard from across the cell, the boy pulled on his own bonds.
“Calm down! Fight them! Fight-” the boy quelled. Suddenly the iron entrance swung open with great force, the door clanging against the adjacent wall in recoil. The boy gritted his teeth, and the girl’s tears turned into soft whimpers. An elderly man stood between the two captives, staring at the boy in disapproval. He shook his head, then he knelt to the girl’s level and stroked the side of her cheek. The girl was not crying anymore, the boy was struggling with his chains.
“Shhhh, my child,” hummed the maester. “All will be forgotten now.” He hovered his frail hand over the girl’s cranium. In an instant she fell into a deep slumber, her breath became deep and smooth.
“The horror is gone now.”