Everywhere Inside

(Dedicated to all political prisoners)

It was his final kick of the day. I know this because I know the hours he roams around this shithole and I take pleasure in knowing that, despite what he believes, he’s in here with .

It doesn’t hurt anymore, his steel-toed boot. Fucking fucktard. I can’t wait until shit comes down, and it will. I am certain he’d sink faster in the quicksand, metal boots dragging him to his shitty grave.

There’s the clink of the bars and I’m thrown into the cell. It’s become comforting. The cold floor of loneliness. On all fours I look up to the wall, the one where I painted a heart out of my own blood, for . She loves the colour red. She loves hearts. It’s real, it’s real, it’s real, I say in time with my breathing. On the Outside, they don’t breathe when they’re praying, words reaming out like a robotic paper packaging machine. Reality isn’t where they live. They think they are doing someone else’s work – God or man. Who would do someone else’s work, except a slave? I call them Everyone Outside, the fools waiting for an imaginary end, when in reality they’ll, one day, become Everyone Inside.

Here on the Inside, he believes he is immune; it gives me satisfaction. His days are numbered. One day, they will distrust him and he’ll become Everyone Inside, just like me. Isn’t that what happened to all those who did the dirty work for Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Khomeini?

I caress the ground with my hand. The ground below me is stone. I laugh. Everyone Outside thinks they will ascend to the clouds like fucking saviours.

He spits at me for good measure, ‘You’re going to die here and go to hell.’

I turn my face back to look at him. My teeth are clenched. I am angry, but I won’t give him the satisfaction of my words. Hunger-striking demands energy. Lets me fall into untroubled sleep to dream of the colour red and the shape of hearts.

He hands the key to my cell over to another guard. Another piece of metal to mire him.

I am light as a feather. How long before skin and bone evaporate? I don’t have anything to live for except Hope. I wonder why she loves the colour of blood? I would have thought it might be yellow or white – the colour of light things. Hope is more real than God. She is Everywhere Inside. Her name is hope. Light as a feather, as the streak of sunshine on the grey ground below. I run my hands over it, making a fist, trying to catch it. More real than God. She never asks me to do her work. Such is the freedom of Everyone Inside. How much profundity can be crammed into skin and bones?

‘Get up! It’s interrogation time!’ He barks.

I walk down the hallway: a spirit floating, past pain, buzzing Everywhere Inside.

‘You are a spy of the colonisers!’ he shouts.

It seems they already have their own answers. Floating, dancing, whispering. Red hearts. Hope. Not the Stalinesque red of a flag and sickle. Everyone Inside is a scapegoat. Everyone Inside is a bargaining chip for Everyone Outside.

‘Don’t you dare touch Hope!’

Everyone Outside, they find excuses to use as fodder for the hellish world they are creating.

Everyone Inside knows these are lies. Convenient lies. One day he’ll become a convenient lie.

He cracks his whip against my feet – bastinadoed by a bastard. But he’s sinking deeper with those steel-toed boots. One day he’ll be so heavy with witnessing they’ll worry he knows too much. Then he’ll become Everyone Inside. Just like me.

This story appeared first in Grattan Street Press Anthology,  Intermissions