Excerpt from “Zwischen”–Marie Defreitas

Staff Fiction

Although during the day it was only a few degrees warmer, it seemed to make all the difference. One night I found myself seeing things in the darkness. Shapes and figures: some human, some not. Things my mind was clearly making up. I felt like a schizophrenic patient, locked in an isolation booth with the electricity gone out. I was becoming more and more frightened every night from things that weren’t even there. I’d find myself crying just so I’d get tired enough to fall asleep. I remember contemplating, would I die from the cold? From infection? From hunger? Or from insanity? Was that possible? Surely I couldn’t hang on much longer.

It was our fifty seventh night in those cold, iron rooms. Now I would crawl over to where the light shone under the door to drive a small piece of stone into the ground to mark the day, then crawl back into the corner and shiver until the lanterns in the other room went out to signal it was night. I layed there in the same spot all day, shivering. Running my hands across my cold, shrunken face reminded me of my starvation. I didn’t eat now, not at all. The little bits of meals piled up in the same spot for three days. I felt I was unable to move sometimes. Unable to speak. Scarlette called my name one night, but I was too weak to answer. She kept trying in vain, then resorted to simply telling me to “hang on, it’s almost over.” She was stronger than I. I knew she would make it, but I wasn’t too sure about myself.