I pace my small cell.
I am locked in, trapped, feel at times profoundly lonely as if I were a prisoner of war – and, in a very real sense, I am. My prison sentence is also a war.
But even the most secure locking system can be opened eventually – and prisoners of war are, eventually released. Probably not unharmed. Probably not the people they were before being captured. But, for those lucky enough not to succumb to privation and torture, alive at least.
All along, however, I have fiddled with hair-grips and bits of wire, determined to find the perfect shape with which to unlock the door from my cell to the outside world, though my failure to create the exact tool needed for the job thus far has proved frustrating, frightening and upsetting: I wake, scared, in the early hours and want nothing more than to give way to screaming, heavy-door-banging hysteria. The claustrophobia of my tiny prison is, at times, overwhelming – and palpitations surge unstoppably.
The constant tensing as the guards walk by has left a deep imprint of pain upon my body, as has the more subtle approach of my Personal Torturer (a suave individual who wraps malice up in charm’s colourful gift paper and has a PhD in Button Pressing) – and some days, as my nerves jump and tendons shiver and muscles convulse, I look at that key hole (so near, yet so far) and cry until my hair is bedraggled.
How can I replicate that shape in assorted metal? How ensure that my ministrations do not coincide with the regular visits made by jailers? How fight against my tormentor’s superior armoury? And, perhaps more to the point, where can I go to, where hide, once I have unlocked the door and made my escape?
For it is not simply a case of Locked or Unlocked in this life, is it?
There is the huge, scary, threatening, wonderful and joyous Afterwards to be factored in as well.
Liberation starts with a key and a door unlocking – but needs a prisoner who is ready to be free.
And I am…