The Wounded Path
By Chloe, Stage 5
Art Write Light 2021 is a creative writing project curated by Story Factory, in collaboration with visual artist Blak Douglas. During the program, students from Bonnyrigg High School and St Clair High School were introduced to the work of Blak Douglas, and created written and audio pieces responding to his artwork. The audio you’re about to listen to features a young writer from the program reading an extract from their work.
LISTEN TO THE AUDIO OF THE STORY
The Wounded Path
As the wounded walk the soldiers march, footsteps tramping the squished surface beneath them. The wind howls loudly as families wait happily as they applaud.
Outside is filled with smoke, terrifying people with large hands, sharp teeth and big eyes. Slowly, the curtains close and I’m returned to the bed, reliving what occurred, the smell drowns me, a lump forming within my throat and the extra weight returns, I stare at the face above; eyes dilated and skin drooping as hand marks embed themselves into my bone, yet I remain blank, nothing I feel within is displayed on the outer. No matter how hard, how loud I object, this doesn’t prevent it. Helpless, I remind myself I am not there. So why am I scared? Nothing bad happened. This doesn’t mean anything, right?
My mind feels as if clouds have formed, blocking everything but once these clouds shift, I’m left with the truth. I’m filled with such sorrow, but I feel awful laying within self pity. I hear the crows caw loudly from outside the window, swarming around a stricken man, they’re hungry. The sky is no longer blue, instead it’s covered by thick dark smoke, it leaks through the crusted wallpaper, filling my lungs. I pray for a day with sun, one to make me want to go out, one to feel the rays beam on my skin, but I’m afraid of who will be outside my door. Is it him? Could he peek through the holes he plastered on my door? If he were to touch it, would it melt like sand? Falling to his feet.
I wouldn’t be safe, he wouldn’t allow any objections and I’m scared. He’s everywhere, following me to dreamland, impersonating my shadow, lurking behind me as if I don’t sense him. He’s an untamed beast – a wild animal, one prepared to attack, no hesitation evident. Sometimes I wonder whether he felt any regret, an ounce of remorse. Does he even remember? Did he apologise that night? I don’t remember and maybe forgetting is a good thing. How long has it been? A few days, weeks maybe? I look at the date. 22nd. It’s been two months and all I feel is… well, empty. The nightmares have faded although he lurks within the background, he’s not all there is. The tyrant is lesser, he is weaker.
I observe the time and suddenly I’m enraged. There’s no longer nothing – there is only everything. I stomp my feet and I bite my teeth. My head glows red. I reach for the door, the knob turns. But there’s nothing there. All anger passes through me. “What if he’s outside?” A churn in my stomach. Small and cruel butterflies eating my stomach lining. These are spiders, far from butterflies. They are mean. When will I be free of this deadly tyrant? My body burns for freedom, my skeleton rattles loudly, everything within me is yelling so angrily. I am enslaved to that singular moment. Why? Where is everyone? I’m alone.
The days have passed and my soul has awoken, I don’t recall the past week but I find myself at a table. Why am I here? My vision is flooded by tears, my face is a cherry red and all has taken its place. A moment I’ve been dreading.
“Are you a victim?”
Much is Rife, Blak Douglas, 2021
Art Write Light is generously supported by the Balnaves Foundation.