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Short Story: The Whip
By Flo Hoff
His eyes were glowing with hate, pieces of coal in the white balls of his eyes. The whip crashed down on me again, it hit my head, my back and my sore, tired feet. Sometimes they were so red and ripped off their brown skin and soaked in dried blood, soaked in pain of the narrow rounds in this narrow space where woe concentrated like people on a funeral. They come close to feel the warmth of their beloved, their kin, no need to know, just stand there and feel.
You could see my circles slowly turning to the colour of rust in the dry air, a trace loaded with pain and wrath, which was but not mine. He screamed again. I did not understand. The sound echoed from the thick walls. No one of us had ever got out of here. I moved on in my circle, I cried out, but still the walls were thick. I thought him stupid because he did not realise that I could not understand. He never taught me, except reacting to his whip; violence, the primitive language without grammar, vocabulary or feeling, understood by everybody. No need to teach it. The whip cracked. Another round.
I always feared the morning, when the heavens turned from black to an even more desperate dark blue. I always feared the beginning more than the end. Lying there with certainty that it would begin again, with the uncertainty of not knowing when. Timeless nights of exhausting preparation for the next day when he would come, open the gate and pull me out of my cell, leading me at a leather leash which was tied around my head. No need to resist, the beating would just have begun earlier.
'Jjnxal aieuzu p asdj I asas awk' he said. I did not understand.
Sometimes he beat me so hard that I fell down into my own trace of blood, carved in the scattered barkdust. I smelled rotten wood, wet iron and I felt my rusty hair, drenched in rusty hope. I placed it in a rusty, sharp-edged tin can. Others had placed their heart in it and lost their soul. I was sure he never had a soul.
'paske a kcvdweao asdpq' he said. I did not understand.
The whip cracked. It was always hot in the hall, steam rose from my aching back and head, salty sweat ran down into the open wounds. I could remember how I did get here, not knowing when. Years elapsed in timeless rounds, the same dead flakes of wood and bark before my eyes. As it was hot in the hall, it was cold in my cell. There was no grass there, only cement without warmth and purpose, with cold that kept my feet numbed. No moon, no sun, no drop of colourful butterflies could have reached my ear. I knew there were others, but I never saw or heard them.
I tried talking to him through my body, through my eyes and carefully spilled resistance. He did not understand. He talks to me in cryptic sounds, flowing out his mouth like moths, I did not understand. Tired weariness broke my eye, and let if fall asleep with open lids, the same corroded pictures stamped into it through repetition. I saw his body talking nonsense. Signs were out of order, not matching parts of different puzzles thrown together. I could not make them fit. I lacked the thumbs to pick the pieces up.
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