Salvation | Jeanette Stampone

Siblings flee their captor.


Salvation

By Jeanette Stampone

For The All Night March Award


Intense blackness. The sound of my own breath. My own heartbeat pulsing through my ears. A flash of something, “Who’s there?” I demanded.

Silence.

How long have I been here? I tried to count how many meals had been pushed through the flap in the door, but I became muddled; the numbers jumbled in my mind.

A thud! I jumped, startled by the sudden sound.

Light streamed in. Tears rolled down my face as the intense burst of sunlight penetrated my pupils, stinging my eyes. A voice growled, “Crying? Weakness is for the outsiders. Do you need another month in there?”

I shook my head, “No Master. Of course not.” I squinted as my eyes adjusted to the light. His silhouetted frame stood motionless in the doorway. As I stumbled out, the warmth of the sun hit my skin; the fresh air rushed into my lungs. It was a new day, finally.

“You disappointed me,” he said.

A hazy image entered my mind. Master touching me and telling me I belonged to him. Flinching with repulsion. Pushing him away and running, scrambling. My real brothers, Sam and Jacob calling my name. Too late. I was thrown into the cold concrete room. Then darkness. The longest, darkest night imaginable.

I held my head high, looking up at him. His scarlet robe swayed in the breeze and he smiled. A smile of sympathy, of forgiveness. “I am not sure what I was thinking Master,” I said. “I apologise.”

He stroked my arm, “No need to apologise Sister. You have been cleansed of your wrongdoings.”

I made my way to the homestead. A small group of members were working in the courtyard. As I approached, they turned. Their pales faces broke into wide smiles, yet their eyes were dull. An elderly woman gently placed her hand on my back. “Hello Sister,” she said. “Come join us in the garden. Such a beautiful day.” No-one seemed to have noticed that I had been gone for a month. No-one asked any questions. Their sweet singing filled the air; laughter echoed through the valley.

I pushed away the dark stirrings within me. I sang and laughed with them. I dug the earth with the trowel, pulling weeds and planting seeds. A memory flashed in my mind. I tried to ignore it but it drew me in, like an old movie, silently flickering. Images of rough hands grasping and squeezing mine. Then darkness once more. I gasped as the feeling surged through me and I quickly rose to my feet. I needed a moment to clear my head, to think and breathe.

Excusing myself from the garden, I wandered to the steel gate, up the path and towards the house. I stopped abruptly as the sound of footsteps tapped behind me. Shuddering, I swung around. Body tense, eyes wide. Two men walking towards me. Then I smiled and breathed as my body relaxed. It was Jacob and Sam. Resisting the urge to rush to them, to hug them, I stood and waited. They approached me without a word. Tears welled in Sam’s eyes as he noted the bruises on my hands.

“Take this,” Jacob whispered. He pushed a piece of crumpled paper into my palm. Without a second glance, they both strolled ahead of me and into the house. I looked around, making sure I was alone. Then, carefully unfolding the paper, I read the scribbled note.

Leaving tonight.
Meet in kitchen. Midnight.

I pushed the note into my pocket and continued to the house. Dinner would need to be on the table in two hours. I must get started.

That night, at precisely midnight, I left my bed, crept downstairs and tip-toed into the kitchen. Sam and Jacob ran to me and hugged me tightly. A warm, genuine hug like nothing I had felt for such a long time. I absorbed the rare feeling. A rush of emotion cut through the void within me. “I can’t live here without you,” I whispered.

The night was still as we walked barefoot out of the house. I followed them down the path towards the gate. My heart raced inside my chest. Then, out of the darkness, a familiar voice boomed, “Going somewhere?”
“Master!” said Jake, “We heard the goats. We were just checking on—“
“You sure about that?” he asked, as he pulled something from his pocket. The note. He held it in the air and laughed.

Sam and Jacob stared at me, wide-eyed and speechless. “I had to stop you,” I said. “You would have gone to hell.”

Master placed his arm around my shoulder. “Well done Sister. They will thank you for it.”

As my brothers wept, I smiled. I had saved them. We would all be together in this paradise.