Me and my mom were walking down the street, it was an early spring day. Where the sun’s rays were too weak in this chilly breeze to provide any amount of comfort. I glanced at the puddles dappling the ground as we walked, passing the market and most of the shops on our way. I considered running back home screaming as I went but I didn’t want to upset my Mom. We were going to the doctors office. Everyone had to, they were making it a necessity that everyone be checked out by the doctor. There has been a disease going around that almost exclusively only affected children and teenagers, the doctors there would test me for this disease and if I had the disease they would take me away from my family and friends so that I wouldn’t infect them. These were dire times, the doctors had to make sure that they could contain the disease. I was almost shaking, terrified of being tested positive. The only few words my mother said were.
“Aysha! had she snapped “stop walking in those puddles, you’re going to get your shoes wet, you can’t be all muddy.”
Those were the only words, and I’m sure it was because she didn’t want to be seen with a daughter that was all muddy. She valued her social status too much. I was thinking about this till we arrived at the doctors office. As we entered I noticed that the usual bright and cheerful place had turned completely solitary confined. The nurses and doctors had biohazard suits on even though the disease only infected children, I realized they couldn’t risk bringing it home to their family, if they were to see them at all. I was instantly aware of them staring at me like I had them under a bomb threat or was a terrorist, I was only fourteen for Pete’s sake! My mom had a brief discussion with the doctor and suddenly I was being led away from my mother by a complete stranger. He wasn’t being mean. I look back on it and I believe I remember pity and remorse in his eyes but in that moment I hated him, hated them all. I pulled with everything I had, using some of the few self defence moves my father had taught me.
“Get off of me!” I shrieked.
Trying to elbow him yelled but he was stronger. Faintly I heard my mother chide.
“Aysha, stop” she snapped with a hint of acid in her tone, that showed I was making a scene.
Good I thought but I lost my concentration and the doctor was able to pull me away. I was led through lots of corridors till we got to the room and they sat me down on the hospital bed. The room smelled weird and I was getting fidgety. The doctor started asking me questions, like what was my name and If I had been really social recently. I stared straight ahead and when he offered me some candy I shot a baleful look his way.
“If you don’t answer the questions you don’t get the candy,” he said in a kind but stern way.
“I’m not a child,”I told him insulted
“Ok then, for starters what’s your name?” he asked.
This wasn’t a hard one, “My name is Aysha Lawrence, I am fourteen years old” I stated.
He seemed surprised by my higher soprano voice at my age. Everyone was, they said it was pretty. My dad had always thought it was pretty… But I saw it as being different. I saw him write my name down on a sheet of paper. He was writing down my description on the same paper too. I heard him mumble to himself.
“Maple red hair, approximately 5’11”, caucasian.” he mumbled “have you been anywhere in public recently?” he asked.
I sighed “ My mom was still making me go to the market to get the groceries, and we still go to family gatherings.” I said instantly feeling guilty for ratting out my mother, I pushed that thought aside, she didn’t care about me.
“Have you gone to church recently?”he asked more pointedly.
“Not recently,” I lied, sensing trouble if I told the truth.
He sighed he rightly didn’t believe, I had always been a terrible liar. He told me to stay where I was and left. Probably to go get his testing materials. I sat there and waited, and waited, trying to figure out what to do in the meantime. So I went over to his file on me and read it… It had my description on it, name, age, and probability of positive results. I barely glanced at that number and I felt my stomach lurch. There was a probability of seventy five percent I had the disease. My answers were vague, how could that be the probability. I took another file “Most contaminated public places” and then I saw it. The church, my church was number one. I looked at more files all the underages at my church had tested positive. I felt like sobbing. How could I live with this axe over my head, every day I would be getting weaker, not stronger. I heard the door opening and rushed back to my spot on the hospital bed. Trying to look natural. The doctor had a needle and some freezing. The rest of the time went by so quick, everything was blurry. I realized I was crying. As he led me to a self isolation room he tried to comfort me with soothing words, promising it would be alright. I already knew I probably already had the disease, there was no way I couldn’t. I tried to remember the details of what my teacher had said about the disease. All I could remember is that victims were slowly weakened to they died at younger ages, but I already knew that. I got a grip on myself and started to search around my room looking for a way out. The room was small, with a tiny twin bed, a night stand with books in it, there was a small window, too high up to reach on my own. Wait the bed, I thought ripping off the sheets and tying them together, and then attaching them to the window. I need something to break the window… I thought frantically looking for something heavy. I saw a bible that someone had put in the drawer of the nightstand. My grandmother had always said the bible was the best antidote for problems.
“This feels like a bad thing to do…” I sighed
I hesitated for a second then gave in.
“Let’s do it,” I murmured to no one in particular.
I grabbed the bible and put some force behind my throw. It smashed the window and an alarm went off instantly. I grabbed the pillow case and laid it out over the broken glass gently before pulling myself up and sliding through. Even with my precautions I still got some glass in my side and I had fallen badly on my ankle, it was bruised. But I didn’t let that dampen my spirits. I was free I thought then yanked myself back into the present, as I ran, my bruised ankle making every step difficult. I kept running, my vision tinted red and blurry, every once in a while I would brush my side and push the glass shards into my skin more, but even then I was grateful to be free.
It felt like I had been running for hours when I stopped at dusk at the edge of a forest and started to gather firewood. I hobbled around to look for some flint, I knew what to look for because my father had always insisted that I know how to take care of myself with this knowledge It only took half an hour to find some. I moved my fire into a more sheltered and safe area and lighted it. Then getting to work on my ankle, that actually wasn’t bruised as I found out but broken. I made a splint out of some bark, wrapping it in leaves, and tying it with vines, even then every step was hard, it made me wonder how I had managed to run on it in the first place. Making the foot-cast made me think of my father, always outdoorsy and wild. It made me sad to think about, so I focused on something more pressing matter, getting the glass shards out of my side. Thankfully they were all pretty big pieces, but even then it was a long and grueling process. I whistled while I made a paste out of some Apiaceae flowers I found, and applied that to my wound. Then grabbed a scarf from my pocket and tied that around the cut areas, gasping at the added pressure. After that was done I decided on making myself as best a shelter I could. After many failed attempts, and many falls (because I was hopping.) I managed to get a somewhat decent shelter. Almost immediately after I laid down I fell asleep.
I woke up to someone tripping and cussing in front of my tent. I grabbed a stick and slowly while wincing hobbled toward the entrance to my shelter. I peeked out and saw a group of four people, two girls, two guys. Almost all of them were older, teens. One of the girls was more tanned with jet black hair, easily fourteen. The other with a chocolate brown pixie cut and a more pale skin tone, she looked more like thirteen. The taller guy who looked almost exactly like the first girl looked the oldest. The last guy definitely the youngest had longer blonde hair, and looked distrustful.
“Who are you, what do you want?” I asked in the most menacing way I could with my high soprano voice, waving my crude club in front of me.
They seemed to have just seen me, and they surveyed me with interest.
“Were not going to hurt you,” the first girl told me “we ran away too, my name is Mia, over there,” Mia introduced me pointing at the girl with the pixie cut who waved, “is Demi, the guy over there,” she introduced me gesturing to the left at the older guy who acknowledged me with a nod “is my brother Shawn, and the guy beside him is Lukas.”
At this point I was starting to see that they weren’t that bad. Except for Lukas they all seemed pretty friendly.
“My name is Aysha, I’m fourteen” I told them because I could sense their curiosity.
The pain in my leg was getting really bad now that I was walking harder on it. Mia and Shawn walked over to me and shook my hand. While Demi and Lukas looked more hesitant to approach me.
“Nice to meet you Aysha, when did you leave?”
“Only last night.”I answered gasping because I had shifted my weight onto my broken ankle.
“Are you okay?” Mia asked in a worried tone starting to step forward in case I collapsed.
“I’m fine.” I insisted, the last thing I wanted to do when I met new people was collapse on them.
I hobbled over to a tree stump and sat down, brushing my side as I did. I yelped in pain, while jumping up from the stump onto my ankle. The one named Shawn stepped forward worriedly. I grimaced at the thought of having to be saved by him like a damsel in distress, so I lied.
“Just,” I gasped “sore.”
After that my eyesight started to blur and I think I blacked out. All I remembered was Shawn and Mia jumping forward before I could fall, and looking at my wounds. I especially remembered a shocked gasp from someone when they saw my side and ankle, then I woke up in a room. But it wasn’t a room in a house. I looked out a makeshift window, was I in a tree? I combined the two and concluded I was in a tree house. I didn’t move because I was scared of the pain of my leg. Shawn walked into the room unaware I was awake.
“Oh, you’re awake.” he realized.
He sat down at the foot of my bed.
“Why didn’t you tell us you were hurt, we were worried,” he told me.
I was surprised, I didn’t think they would care. Why would they care?
“Why would they care? Why do you care about me?” I asked, realizing the lack of emphasis on we, “You barely know me.”
“We want to know you.” he reasoned, but I could see where this was going.
I decided to break the tension.
“Ok then help me up.” he just stared at me “help me up so I can go see everyone!”
He sighed and helped me up. I winced as he helped me to my feet. He helped me walk to the door and then he told me we would be climbing down a ladder to the other rooms.
“What?” I panted already exhausted from the few steps I took.
So I didn’t complain when he bent down and helped me get on his back. I decided to make a mental note to ask Mia for a more accessible room for the time being, he seemed to be thinking the same thing as we descended the steep ladder to the other rooms. When we got down he walked over to the edge of the walkway, when I saw the view I gasped. We were in the same forest just above it. It was so majestic and vast.
“Pretty, isn’t it?” Shawn mused not looking at the view.
“Yeah…,” I agreed awkwardly.
“Lets keep going.” he decided.
He descended a little bit more and then stopped at the entrance to a larger room. I could hear the sound of loud talking and murmuring in there. I reached for the door and he stopped me.
“Wait before you go in there, I need you to promise me you won’t freak out, ok?” he cautioned.
“Depends…” I stated unconvincingly.
He just stared at me.
“Fine, I promise I won’t freak out.”I said unwillingly.
“Ok, but let me go in first.”he decided.
It seemed like he had been gone forever when I heard a knock on the door telling me I could come in. I opened the door and stepped into the room, alreading completely overwhelmed with the amount of teenagers in there. There must have been twenty. Which was four times the amount I was used to. But I got it together and looked around. Everyone was staring at me, the girls at my maple red hair, the boys at Shawn who had annoyingly put his arm around my shoulders. Mia looked as though she was going to make me introduce myself. I glared at her as a warning. Once everyone’s attention had turned to the front I asked Shawn what everyone was doing here.
“We’re trying to find a cure for the disease.” he told me, “So far there’s no progress…”
Mia was talking up at the front again so I started listening to her. She was listing everything they had tried, ideas that had an effect to ideas that had done nothing or had negative effects. She talked about how the disease worked for hours, but still people were taking notes and asking questions. I zoned out for a while, thinking of the good old days when I would go to the hospital to see my dad work and ask him questions about diseases and his job. Suddenly I remembered something he had said about diseases, and I realized what the cure must be for this particular disease. I cleared my throat causing everyone in the room turned to stare at me, including Shawn.
“I think I know what the cure is.” I said already shocking everyone, “and I know where to get it.” I added.