To Be Innocent
"Look, listen, you have to believe me! You have to listen to me!" Iris struggled against the two guards, refusing to admit to herself she was no match for them.
"I didn't kill anyone," Iris said, trying to stay calm. "I didn't kill anyone," she whispered. The guards refused to even look at her.
They dragged Iris forward. The ceremony would have gone faster if Iris just walked with them. It would have gone faster if Iris just accepted the fact that she had killed someone.
Iris hadn't killed anyone.
Unfortunately, no one believed her. To put it simply, she had been in the worst possible place at the worst possible time. Now she was sentenced to a fate that was said to be worse than death.
"I didn't kill anyone!" Iris shouted now, hoping to surprise the guards. They don't even as much as flinch.
Her face growing red from struggling, Iris screamed in frustration, "Why don't you listen to me? You never – listen – to me!" She yanked away so abruptly her elbow almost popped out of its socket. But the guard didn't let go of her forearm.
Then the guard to the right of Iris spoke.
"There is no point in struggling. Your time for fighting is over."
Except no one listened to Iris when she had a chance of being innocent. Why would anyone believe a nasty red-haired fifteen-year-old?
Iris knew a person who would have believed her. He was dead now, though. He had the fate Iris was going to have. There was no one to save her.
Iris came back to reality and realized there were tears streaming down her face. And she was walking. She was cooperating with the guards. They were almost to the pit.
Then everything came crashing down on Iris.
I'm going to die. And there's nothing I can do.
She thought of all the things she never gave thanks for. All the things she meant to fix and never got around to it. Family relationships. Friend relationships.
She thought of how her parents had always loved her, had always cared for her the moment they adopted her. And she just pushed them away, thinking they'd never understand her.
She thought of how the teachers at school were so kind to her, how they tried to be patient with her. And she just pushed them away, thinking they'd never understand her.
She thought of how her friend, Oliver, thought he could understand her. How he refused to give up trying to understand her. How he eventually really did understand her.
Right before he was taken away.
"Wait," Iris said sharply. She didn't wait for the guards to acknowledge her. "What happens when I get to the last pole?" The two guards and Iris were at the edge of the pit now. Long pillars of rock rose up from the dark pit, close enough together that you could walk from one to another. But they stopped after about thirty poles.
"That's confidential information," the guard to Iris's left said.
"I think I have the right to know. I'm going to find out anyway."
"We are not allowed to give this information to you." Then the guard added, "And you wouldn't believe me if I told you."
"So what are you waiting for? Aren't you going to somehow make me walk to the end of the pole things?"
Iris barely heard the guard reply, "We don't have to." She was half walking, half hopping across the poles – quickly.
Half of Iris's brain was shouting, "What are you doing? What happened to not cooperating?" The other half insisted, "You must get to the end. Now!"
Confused by indecision, Iris tripped over her own feet. It felt like time had stopped, leaving Iris airborne, arms flailing around her and searching for something to steady herself with.
Then she fell in what seemed to be slow motion. Iris's hands found the top of a pole. She gripped the edge with all the strength she had left. Her legs dangled, useless. There were no cracks in the pillar, no footholds. Her fingers were slipping.
Iris didn't know what would happen if she got to the last pole, but she thought it would be better than falling into an endless dark pit.
For a moment, she just hung there, wondering how long she could hold on. It seemed like an eternity. Her fingers became hot and moist from gripping the edge of the pole so tightly. Each second felt like an hour, each minute a day. Iris didn't think she had the strength to pull herself back up.
Finally, Iris knew she couldn't hold on any longer. The moment she closed her eyes, her fingers slid off the last bit of pole.
The wind roared in her ears and Iris's piercing scream only sound like a faraway sigh.
She didn't have enough time to think about what was at the bottom of the pit, or even if there was a bottom, or about how it would feel to die, or if anyone cared she would die, or any thoughts someone would think before they died.
Because Iris didn't die.
She had been falling for only a few seconds when some unknown force threw her up until she landed safely back on the first pole.
Iris stood on that pole, trying to comprehend what happened. Her head was spinning with confusion. Suddenly she felt sick and threw up. She knelt on the platform, trying to calm herself and taking deep breaths.
A moment later she blacked out.
When Iris woke up, she was in a hospital bed. Everything was fuzzy – her vision and her thoughts. Minutes passed. Her thoughts cleared after her vision, but when it did, her eyes grew wide and she said faintly,
"I must be dead."
"No, you're not," a very familiar voice replied. Iris could never forget that voice. Not in a million years.
Iris scanned the room but couldn't see anyone.
"Oliver?" she asked, her eyes gleaming with tears.
"Hey," Oliver said and walked away from the head of Iris's bed.
"Oliver!" Iris exclaimed and jumped out of bed to meet Oliver in a tight embrace.
"Oliver! I thought you were dead!" Iris's voice was muffled, as her face was buried in Oliver's shoulder. "How can you be here?"
Oliver pulled away and looked Iris right in the eyes. He took a deep breath and sighed. "This is going to be hard, but just listen until I'm done talking. Then ask questions. Okay?"
"The same thing that happened to you happened to me. The reason you were propelled back up when you fell – well, it was because you were innocent. But, the government can't have people knowing that they sometimes make mistakes in judging someone innocent or guilty. They actually do it a lot. These people, like you and me, are put in a separate community kept secret. The government—"
"But you were dead. You—" Iris faltered and blinked back tears. "You were dead."
Oliver took Iris in his arms again. "I was never dead. It's okay. You're here now."
"C'mon. Let's take a walk. You'll be fine."
They pulled apart again. Holding hands, they walked out of the hospital room to a new life.
A/N: This is my first piece of writing I have decided to upload here and also my first short story. Hope you liked it and please review to comment on things I can do better! :)