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MDX Redbeat

A Lost Life

“Take a semester at sea, Aria. It’ll be fun, Aria.” The girl scoffed, readjusting the heavy chains on her bruised and bloody wrists. How had she gotten into this mess?

Her sister had finished her semester at sea last year and had since been pestering Aria to sign up for it. She’d said it would be the most fun Aria would have, probably ever. And it really was fun for a while. 

Two weeks after the cruise had started, they’d all been partying on the highest deck around

midnight. Of course, Aria had joined in, dancing until she was dizzy. She’d just sat down

when the first blast sounded.

The world went hazier than it already had been, and her head wouldn’t stop spinning. She

stumbled over to the railing, and only after emptying the contents of her stomach did, she

realize that the hull was on fire.

By now, the other partygoers were realizing something was wrong and the screaming had started. Aria groaned, still not able to muster enough concern for the burning ship. Why were they screaming? As she tried to walk towards the bridge of the ship, there was another boom, more deafening than the last. The ship groaned and began to keel to its side, inciting another flurry of screams.

Her memory was a little fuzzy here. She remembered getting up, and then someone ran past her, shoving her away in the process. Right off the railing.

She fell for what seemed like an eternity, plummeting like a ragdoll, weightless and powerless against the pull of the ocean. It was a peaceful feeling, until she hit the cold water and it felt like all her bones had shattered simultaneously and she wished she’d just died instead. Her screams were lost to the roaring waves and after a while, she surrendered her consciousness to them as well.

After that, all she remembered was bursts of excruciating pain that made her faint as soon as she woke, and then finally waking up to find herself in this dark and stale smelling room. The room contained a crudely made bed, two large barrels of water that never seemed to run out, and a fresh box of bread every day when she woke up. She never saw anyone enter or leave.

It was a large room, and as far as she could see there were more things in the far corner, but she’d been chained to the wall and no matter what she tried; the iron cuffs didn’t budge. Her eyes darted up when the door creaked; was she finally going to meet her captors?

Her imagination went wild, conjuring up images of giant men with sinister expressions, knives and guns shining in their rough hands. Someone strode in while her eyes adjusted to the sudden burst of light, and Aria scrambled back onto her bed, and when she finally squinted at the figure, she saw him light a fireplace in the corner.

The whole place lit up, and for the first time Aria could see everything around her clearly. The room was large, and at the other end were stacks and stacks of books, boxes, and a wide eyed boy gawking at her.

“Hey! Can you find the keys? K-E-Y-S?” She said slowly; she’d always made fun of people

who thought that speaking to foreigners in slow English would make them understand, but now she was desperate. She held up her chains and pointed to the keyhole.

“I’m not deaf. You don’t need to shout.” The boy replied, looking at her curiously. Other than an affected accent, his English was flawless. Maybe she’d landed in a port city after all.

“How did you get here? Our island cannot be entered by outsiders.” His gaze held curiosity, but there was also mistrust there. So, it wasn’t a port city, after all.

“Then how do you know English?” She asked. Maybe she could get this boy to trust her enough to bring the keys. Everything after that, she’d plan when she got to it.

“We are taught many things about your world; we just prefer to stay here, away from your greed and selfishness.” He looked at her coldly, and she couldn’t help but laugh.

“You’re just a little boy; what do you know of the world? Everything we do is to make life easier for us; your life is needlessly harder because you choose to isolate yourself. Why not reach out?” She was already mentally kicking herself for asking such a rude question to her potential savior, but by then she was almost delirious with pain and past the point of caring.

“I have gone out many times, to many places; this is a planet filled with hubris and the degradation of the poor by the very ones who’ve made them the way they are. So yes, we prefer living here. We may not have the same ease of life you do, but our values and morals will never be corrupted by greed for something that at the end of the day, is meaningless and empty.” He turned away from her.

“Yes, I am just a boy. But I am also the son of the chief. And this room is where I come to learn. I believe you are a test from my father; shall I choose mercy and let you go? Or… ” he stopped, seemingly deep in thought and ignorant of the fact that Aria was trembling with fear. Her fate rested in his hands?

“Please… ” she whispered, the only word she could think of the one word going through her mind over and over again. The boy turned abruptly, leaving the room with the lamp still on.

She didn’t have to wait in mental agony for long, however. He returned almost immediately with the keys to the cuffs.

“When you leave the house, go straight to the beach and you will see many boats there. Take one and row straight until you see land. There is another island just a few miles away, one with the amenities you desire.” With that, he turned towards her hands.

Aria almost cried with relief when she saw the sun. She turned to thank him. “We will always choose kindness.” He replied simply and turned to go back inside.

As she sailed towards her beloved civilization, Aria pondered over what the boy had said.

Maybe he was right; kindness really was a trait that was most needed, but rarely found in the world.

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