— Nancy Nayeon Kwon Y10 Mulchat —
“Ross recalled one particularly agonizing interview with a girl who kept telling him, ‘I can’t wait to get out of here so I can kill myself.’”
(CNN, ‘Girls behind bars tell their stories’, March 27 2015)
-This is a story inspired from the article above-
The sky was the colour of bright turquoise as Richard Ross, a photographer, walked into the juvenile detention center. After going through several guards about the security matters he was able to reach the cell door. He knocked three times.
“Hello? May I come in?”
The room was silent, though Ross could see a girl sitting on her cell bed frightened and worried. She whimpered a slight answer to his question. Ross slowly opened the cell door and went in. After taking his shoes off, Ross sat down on the floor, with the girl staring down at him. Surprised, the girl stared at him and let out a muffled astonishment.
“I came here to have a conversation with you. Is it okay?”
The girl stiffened and then replied sharply back at him.
“Of course not. But you won’t go even if I ask, wouldn’t you?”
“Well… If you insist. But I surely hope not. What’s your name?”
“I’m J.S. and I can’t tell you anything else about me. So can you leave now?”
“Woah. That was quick. Can we talk a little bit longer? I hope to hear your story.”
Then after a slight pause, he asked, “What’s gone on in your life?”
J.S. stared at the ceiling for a long time. The room was all white and held nothing but a bed and a small toilet. She hesitated, then slowly began to open her mouth.
What do you think of when you look at the sky? The blue sky encouraging you to carry on despite any hardships you are facing? A stuffy, humid sky with dark grey clouds that keeps you dragging through your day? Or do you find joy in searching for images in the cloud?
The sky was a shade of dark gray while I walked on, daydreaming about my future. The fearsome clouds hovering over my head forewarned a thunderstorm. After hearing a loud boom behind me I stared at the sky, and found lightning striking down. With slight hesitation, I ran into my worn down house.
The house had no lights on. I was sure that my mother wouldn’t be coming back home until late night and I knew I ought to be careful of my father who might be home. As I walked down the corridor, the heap of dust piled on the staircase shifted, and I could feel the house trembling as a sudden sound of glass shattering roamed. Then came the dreadful noise.
“Come on! Where’s my beer? You there? Get out and get my beer! What are you thinking, standing there and doing nothing? Who do you think you are, A snobby princess? Are you ignoring me like your mother you horrible child?”
My father screamed at me as he thumped down the staircase, his face red from all the alcohol he had during the day. His beady eyes glared at me with pure hatred. His hands held a bottle cracked open and jagged at the edges.
I thought, ‘so that was where the sound came from…’ and while I did, my father lunged at me and grabbed me by the collar. I could do nothing but watch as his gigantic fist slam into my face. The world seemed to melt into one big bunch of darkness as my conscious faded.
When I woke up, I found myself chained onto a chair. I turned around, looking for a way to escape. I saw my brother chained to the chair next to me, unconscious. I tried to wake him up when I smelt something. A stinking smell, somewhat like burning. Then the smoke came raging down the hall. I pushed my brother’s and my own chair down to the ground and then fainted again as the smoke came through my nostrils. I can still remember my fear. I can literally feel myself choking, out of breath… I thought that I would never see daylight again…
After a few hours of darkness, my eyes burst open. I saw a pure white, checkered ceiling. My nostrils were blocked with thin translucent tubes, and I heard beeps coming from a computer next to me. I jumped up and pulled the needles out of my arms. A doctor ran in and calmed me down with a depressant. When I woke up next, there was a man in a dark suit next to my bed. He introduced himself as a lawyer, and told me that from now on, my brother and I ought to live with my grandmother and uncle, since our father was an unreliable man.
I had no other choice but to agree to the terms and go to my grandmother’s house. My grandmother had never liked me. I had to make everything perfect everyday, and yet not be seen. Unless I hid myself well out of my grandmother’s scrutinizing eyes, I got scolded, punished severely, and often whipped. I did the best I could do. However, none of my actions seemed to satisfy her.
The people who were supposed to love me never did. So I decided to give up on trying any longer. The adults who I have ever met in my life had only endangered me, or had failed repeatedly to protect me. After that, I decided to run away.
After running away, I was finally able to see the bright sky again. The sky shown with the shade of bright blue and light orange that had always been guiding me, and I regained strength from it. However, after a few days, I couldn’t do anything. My stomach growled and my limbs had no strength left to keep me going. I had to do something to keep myself alive. So I sneaked up to a person and stole their purse. The bright blue sky that had welcomed me warmly turned so bitter, so cold in front of my very own eyes. The shade of the sky turned into a cement gray colour and nothing seemed to be able to revive the bright colour that it used to have.”
I had never done anything like that before, so I got caught immediately. Then I got sent to this juvenile detention center. I cannot do anything here. My days are wasted, and all that I can ever do is stare at the walls. I have no life.
From then, every time I looked at the sky, I could never see the sky as how I used to see it before. The sky never cleared up. It stayed as the foul shade of gray that tormented me over and over again, reminding me of the life I might have had. Making me think of the blue sky that had once made me dream for a better life. Now I can’t have the chance to ever be so again. I did the wrong thing and I know it. I can never be myself again, and the sky will never clear before my eyes.
It had never worked out the way it should have been. And last month I ripped my cloth so that could I could hang myself, but I got brutally stopped by the guards. Any cloth that a teenager might use to try to hang herself was removed. I have one goal. A goal that one day, I would get of this place. That one day, when I do escape, I will kill myself freely and go to a place where the sky would no longer be gray; to a place where nothing would torment me again.
J.S. smiled meekly. Ross was able to see a glint of sadness in the girl’s eyes. Her long hope being shattered in a single moment had caused her to give up everything that she owned in this life. Ross decided that this had to be shown to the world so that the story would not repeat ever again.