I’m comfortable, wrapped in a cocoon of fine linen and soft surroundings but it’s real. I could smell the blood in the air, taste pennies and feel the aches of impacts throughout my body. I could hear echoes off the thick metal walls and feel heat radiating all around me like the refraction from a pond of lava; my eyes are still heavy with the memories. I could feel a chair beneath my hips, my slumped over, presumably unconscious, body memorizing the curved wood. I didn’t know the time; there wasn’t time just an inevitable silent countdown. I looked down to a man I had known for the last two years, a man I spent the last two weeks working beside, a man I had treated many injured Haitians with, a man I shared many laughs and tears with. He laid there at my feet on the dirty metallic floor of a trailer back; I could see him.
I kept my eyes low; if someone were to peek in there would be but another memory of infliction. They couldn’t know I was conscious. I watched the man writher in pain, blood so coagulated it was dark and thick below him. My heart ached as he gasped and twitched. I wanted to help him; to get him help but my efforts had been met with infliction over the past, how many hours? Days? I was done with my pain, my pain was all but ignorable if I didn’t move. The bones in my hand were dislodged and my arm clearly broken, my ribs ached with all attempt to move and my jaw, mouth and head had taken a beating to a mush.
Exhaustion: it was all I could feel, I was just so tired. I could feel the Earth shift underneath me as the metal trailer back whined in unison with an all too familiar aftershock. My eyelids pressed together as the man on the floor screamed out in pain. I was out of tears, dehydrated and anemic. I prayed the screams outside of the trailer were enough to mask the poor mans howl. I watched the trailer doors attentively, waiting for them to pull open. The metal noises quieted but his breathing became rapid and hitched. I ached for him; I wanted to take every wound he had and suffer it myself. I let a whimper escape my lips with an instant regret.
The man on the ground looked up into my eyes and it was a moment of understanding; we knew this was it, we weren’t getting out of here alive. He pleaded for forgiveness before letting out a scream that echoed so intensely through the metal that I instinctively pressed my good hand over my ear. Two men barreled into the trailer; all I could do was drop my arm and wait. They interrogated in a foreign tongue and we went through the motion; everyone in the trailer knew the language barrier wasn’t moving but they still continued to lay into us. I could hear my own voice repeating the only 3 creole phrases I knew that fit the situation, “I don’t know”, “I am lost”, and “I am a student.” They were done with my repetitive chant; I contracted back as the butt of a riffle made contact with my jaw. I hit the metal ground, my knees and arm slamming into the grooved floor. The man closest to me continued to shout in my face before swiftly taking a foot into my side; leaving me rolling on the floor; then silence.
A noise sounded so loudly that I could hear nothing but a stinging ring. I knew the sound but I refused to analyze its existence in this moment. I rolled to my side and laid my eyes on the man I knew well; his expression was empty. I felt a scream in my chest, all my pain washed away as I stumbled to him; putting pressure on his head as if I could somehow fix what was done. I looked around in a panic but was only met with a pain to the back of my head that left my nose burning. I felt hands wrap around my neck as I swung uncontrollably, looking into the mans angry eyes.
Pain sliced through my hip as I flew up swinging into the wall of my bedroom before crashing to the carpet. My heart pounding in my throat, tears streaming down my face; all I can do is hug my knees to my chest and sob. I made it out, I made it home and nothing has ever made me feel so much guilt. This is my reminder; it’s real, I feel it. I taste the blood, my jaw aches, my ears ring; this is real, I was there but I’m home.