I sat in the darkness for days, the silence a tomb. I ran from the shards of light slicing into the belly of the cave I’d created, hiding in corners and crevices, burying myself in white sheets like a shroud.
I slept and woke in jarring fits, slumber a reprieve and consciousness an agony. Every time I gasped myself awake, I immediately set course directly towards the siren call of unconsciousness, my waking hours more weight than my small shoulders could bear.
I felt too raw to be in the world. My skin too sensitive, wounds too pink and tender for the way the world absentmindedly bumped up against them. The light was too loud and the words were too sharp. I felt constantly on the verge of a run, ready to spirit away from my life wherever I left it, and run until I collapsed. And so I retreated- carefully, fully, invisibly- to the small place I hold in my bones for just the occasion.
I licked my wounds. I studied my weakness. I counted the things I’ve lost in jagged hash marks on the prison walls, a solemn memorial to the dead. I prayed tears would come and then kept their floodwaters at bay. Eventually I stopped praying at all.
I kept the candles burning and pretended they made me warm. I atoned for my sins, the words in my head a scourge. I stretched myself at the altar, a living sacrifice, and hoped I was enough recompense.
On the final day I rose, soundly chastised and reduced to my station, the darkness replaced with the living, but my armor hiding my scars.
Go forth and sin no more.