"We're fighting for Freedom," he says. And something inside me, something that's been strained for a long time – finally snaps.

I look around at all of them. Standing on either side of me, staring straight forward. Intently listening. To his voice, that cuts through the air. And it's as if I'd just woken up from a dream. As if I'm seeing for the first time.

The pledge. I hear it as if from a distance, as if from the bottom of a well.

Just say yes.

I've been through this a thousand times before.

Just say yes.

That's right, keep lying to yourself.

Tell yourself you can say one thing, and believe another.

Lie, and move on.

Lie, like you always do.

It's not like it matters.

Just say yes.

The Flag on my shoulder feels heavy.

Just say yes.

"No."

Everything stops.

He walks over.

"What did you say?" He says softly, dangerously.

I throw it down. The Flag hits the ground with an audible sound. In the sudden silence.

"I said no."

They surround me.

"What a joke." I look around at them. "It's fake, all of it, fake. And all of you. How can you take yourselves seriously? Do any of you believe it? Any of it?"

He steps closer.

"Pick it up."

I look him in the eye.

"No."

The others close in on me. I try to fight back. But they outnumber me, and they're stronger. They were always stronger than me. I try to fight back, but they just knock me down. I'm so weak, and they were always stronger than me. I don't know how long it lasts. I try to get up, but they just kick me down again, crush my hand, crush my hopes.

I try to get up again, but I just fall back down. Somebody laughs.

"That's enough." He says.

I feel them all watching. As I slowly, painfully bring myself back to my knees. My head swims.

"Pick it up."

Silence. Punctuated by my ragged breath.

And somehow, I find the strength to stand. And walk over. And pick up the Flag.

He turns away.

"We've wasted enough time here. Let's go."