The Caged One

“Help Me”

Barely audible, the murmurs gently nudging you forward. To where? You know not, but you must press on.

“Find Me”

What am I to find, I wonder? Fear dances along your spine, but curiosity is a beast unwilling to submit.

“Free Me”

Is somebody, or worse, something trapped in the crevices of my mind? Taunting me, tempting me with secrets and lies that should never be revealed? Perhaps it’s a creature imprisoned, attempting to seduce their way into the corporeal world once more.

You wander aimlessly down the corridors of thought in search of the creature in question, a mission forced upon you as so many things had been. To even think of speaking your truth awakens the coward in you. The coward’s croak pleads you to stop dead in your tracks, as it viciously reminds you that you are Savior to no one, let alone yourself.

“See Me”

The hushed whisper presses against a doorway, beckoning you towards it. Small cries prick your skin, hands trembling in clear resistance as you move for the door. This moment will shape your future and define your past. Is this it? The explanation for all things past, present, and future? The coward shrieks in agony as you swing the door open, and you are left awash in confusion.

A cage resides in the center of the room, bleak and rusted with age. Its contents are unexpected, albeit enchanting. An uncomfortable laugh nearly escapes your lips, but to break the silence would be to break the spell.

It is just a child. A little girl, to be exact. Straggly, wheat-colored hair with a face drained of all warmth we humans take for granted. Dead but alive, she sat still in her cage.

So small.

So fragile.

So frightened.

But the child is not what garnered your attention, nor your confusion. The cage, you see, was open. The cage door stands open, an unobstructed path to freedom. Yet there the child sits, unmoving and silent.

“Would you like to come out now?” you ask, extending your hand as the olive branch to peace. She remains motionless and quiet, but you know she is what called you. Perhaps it is a test.

“We can leave this place. You and I right now, we can go,” said with a touch more urgency than my first plea. Again, nothing. You try once more, your resolve weakening.

“Why don’t you come with me, let’s get out of here.”

Her eyes snapped to you, your gazes interlocked. Heartbreak does not begin to describe the feeling that pulses through you.

Upon closer inspection, her delicate features are cracked like a porcelain dolls after being dropped. The child’s face had been carved into with a cruelty the Devil himself would ooze sympathy for. Fault lines etched over the ebbs and flows of her figure, telling a story I could not stomach to read. I realized the irony of it all in that moment. I understood why I was summoned.

This poor creature was not trapped in the cage. The cage was her protector. The child wants no Savior, for she already had one. The cage contains her rage, her terror, and her worries. The open door is a cruel prank, a testament to free will. She knows there is no safety beyond her rusted home. There is no comfort to be found.

Her cries begged for an acknowledgement, not a Savior. Someone to bear witness, to understand her circumstance. I am no Savior, but that little I can provide.

I retrace my steps, a silent exchange between the two of us. I close the door to her domain and re-enter the corridor with a clarity I did not possess before.

You can’t save someone who doesn’t think they are worth saving.

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