P.S. Don't Save Me | Teen Ink

P.S. Don't Save Me

July 12, 2009
By Alyssa Byrnes SILVER, New Fairfield, Connecticut
Alyssa Byrnes SILVER, New Fairfield, Connecticut
6 articles 0 photos 5 comments

The sun’s last rays began to sink below the horizon line, dipping lower into the sky as it opened up to the world. Abagail sat alone, staring into the distance with a deep intent. Her mind was filled with worries. So many things had gone wrong, that it was impossible to determine which the worst was. The last hours had become a lifelong memory, etched into her mind, as the day she ran. It all seemed to make sense now, and reality was beginning to blend itself into a mold that took shape within her mind.

Cholera. The word seemed to taste of death, a word so terrible that it was so seldom heard. But there it was, spreading across the Serengeti, with almost no hope to stop its deadliness. The mortality rate had been near perfect, and those who had survived the disease were soon too crippled to lead their normal lives once again. The disease had devastated their village. To them, there were no known survivors, well at least until Abagail. Abagail had managed to escape, but she still had to live with the knowledge that her foster family, mother, father, brothers and sisters, were all gone. The entire village was gone.

When her mother had told her to run, she had obeyed without question. It was her dying command, compelling that Abagail save herself. So many people in the village had become ill, and they were dying faster than the healthy could bury them. Bodies lay burning, the smell of smoke, poisoning the sky. Houses lay untouched, so still that the wind was the sole visitor. It was then, that they knew that it was all lost. There was no hope for her village, but maybe if the word spread quickly they would be able to help the others who were at risk.

Both of her sisters had died in one night, at the hands of their mother, who tried only in vain to hold on. Her brother and father late in a state of semi-consciousness, barely alive, clinging to life itself by a single thread. Abagail could only sit and cry, as she watcher her entire family perish before her very eyes. She was the only one that had managed to remain untouched by this disease that poisoned their entire village. At first her mother had tried to save them, but it was no use. She played the brave nurse that never lost hope, even when the person was on their dying breath. But within an instant, she too gave way to powerful disease that had grasped their village. Alas, her courage was in vain, for soon her eyes glazed over with death. Abagail knew that she was losing hope and that she was willingly giving in. She was giving up the will to live. It was at that instant that she told Abagail that she must run. Without giving it a second thought, she turned and ran through the village without ever looking back, as her mother died alone.

She had no idea where she was going, but she had to get away. She needed to be in a place where death hadn’t presided over every living creature. Her feet seemed to fly across the ground, barely skimming the grass and twigs beneath them. Screaming uncontrollably she had ran into the grassland, once forbidden land. But to her the disease knew no boundaries. It didn’t care if you were young, or old, skinny or heavy. It attacked with all its might on every creature that was able to stand upon their two legs.

Soon her breath had gone, and she could feel the heaviness in her legs. Stopping seemed like certain death, but she could no longer will her body to keep running. Panting heavily, she collapsed in the grass and cried hysterically. She buried her face within the grass, and sobbed until the tears all dried up. Then she resorted to a wheezing hysteria. It had taken hours to realize what had happened, but now she knew that she was alone, and that night was drawing quickly upon her.

She sat up and looked around. The grass seemed to extend for miles, stretching into the nearing sunset. But its innocence was only guaranteed during the day. Fierce predators lurked the plains at night, stalking their prey. They made no noise, and their presence was virtually unknown. It appeared to be quiet, so quiet that you could have heard a pin drop.

She was vulnerable, she knew that. But her weakness was her only thing that kept her from caring. Exhaustion seemed to override every other feeling in her body. But she knew that she could be swept away in the blink of eye. And nobody would hear her scream. That scared her. That she would lie undetected, never found, and no one would care, because she was an orphan whose second family was now gone.

The sun had begun to sink lower into the sky, and the first stars of night twinkled above. They fading pinks blended with gorgeous purples to create a mottled effect. The sky was growing ever fainter.

She got up slowly and peered into the darkness. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end, and the slightest sounds sent her into a panic. A twig snapped somewhere in the distance, and instantly she was on the alert. A fury of nervousness flooded into her mind. Her heart raced as the only images that filled her mind were ones where she was either dying or dead. She could almost smell the fear that was radiating from every pore in her body. The scent of death, that she knew so well from the village.

If she had any chance of surviving she would have to find shelter soon. But where? Caves where ferocious animals stalked seemed to appear out of nowhere. At tribal meetings for missing people, they had always been last reported as going into a cave and then never being seen again. Man eating beasts stalked their darkened corners, snapping human bones beneath their jaws. They were depicted with horrible stenches, so terrible that you would suffocate alive before an animal could kill you. Then there was the ever present danger of the falling rocks. Rocks that seemed to fall out of the sky, trapping you in this cavern until you ultimately starved to death. That, or the thought of never being seen again drove you insane, and you committed suicide. Caves were not an option that Abagail was willing to take.

So the only logical solution was to go up. High into the treetops where at least she knew that she would be safe. Scrambling up the nearest trunk, Abagail swung her leg around and settled onto the thickest part of the branch. She leaned back against the base of the tree. At least she was safe here.

Abagail inhaled deeply, and then exhaled, releasing all of her pent up fear. Her body quivered with the relief that she was somewhat protected. It was that elated feeling when a child knows that they have done something right. She could feel the tension releasing from her muscles, her powerful legs that had run for almost a day straight. The feeling of fatigue began to finally take its toll.

By now night had fallen over the grasslands. Clouds that were non-existent in the day, seemed to roll in, blanketing the sky, and blocking out the stars. There was no light, only complete darkness. So dark you that you could see for miles. Darkness that was so unforgiving, so complete, that it seemed to swallow your soul alive. It would wrap itself inside you, controlling your very being. Possession of your mind, it gave the illusion of horror, so dire, that you could never be the same person again.

A shiver released from her body, and the sound of her chattering teeth echoed across the land. The sound awakened the night’s predators and as if on cue, hundreds of eyes illuminated through the tall grasses. They stalked below, feet treading lightly over hollowed ground. Their eyes seem to glisten in the darkness. The predators knew the ways of the grass. When the grass seemed to quiver with the passing wind, they moved, conforming themselves within the waves of greens and browns. It was so discrete, the way you never saw it coming.

Soon, the cloud cover began to dissipate, and the stars began to appear in the sky. They gave a faint signal of hope, light in an otherwise barren landscape. She looked to the stars for answers to her questions, but nothing came. They twinkled at her the same way they did when her parents were still alive, and everything was fine. No emotion had leached into the sky. Thoughts about her life soon began to emerge to the surface. She hadn’t always lived in the village.

At one point she had lived in a small town of Desmont England. The town was quite comfortable, not too large or too small. Ideally, it was the best place to raise a small child. And this was exactly what her parents had planned on doing. But more often than not the best laid schemes, often go awry.

Her father passed away when she was six years old. That was the beginning of the end for her. Her mother, was an alcoholic, and at the time was supposed to be rehabbing. Although that never really came to be, and it was decided that her mother was unfit to care for a small child. She remembered sitting in the court room, holding onto another woman’s hand, a woman who she had never met before. Her mother had gone before the judge, and the judge had ruled on the case almost immediately. It was indefinite that Abagail could not remain in her mother’s care. The police took her mother away, just as Abagail was led away to her new life.

In the back of her mind was a vague memory of being put into an orphanage. Her life there wasn’t bad, for there were many other children who had come from similar situations. Her stay there was only temporary for within the first months, it was noted that she had relatives that lived in Africa and they were willing to adopt her. At the time her aunt and uncle had three other children. Two daughters and one son. These were to become her brothers and sisters that she had never had.

Within a week of the decision, Abagail was clutching a small suitcase, standing at the train station. Boarding the train was the first step towards her new life. She was leaving her comfortably modern life in England to a life of desolation in the African Grasslands. The train began to roll away from the station, and everything she knew was no more. Hills began to roll beneath them faster than Abagail’s eyes could follow them. In her mind she was alone, although they had sent an escort to make sure that her travels went according to plan. But she no longer had any family support system to fall back onto. Nobody was there when she needed them. The train screeched to a halt after an hour that seemed to last an eternity. As she hopped off the train and boarded the boat, her entire life would change.

She had walked into the village with a sense of pity, thinking that she was the orphan and she had the worst lives out of any of the children there. But soon she was proved very much mistaken. The children in the village were the most underprivileged children in the world. Most had little to no education and many did not see the importance to learn. The lack of motivation within the village was astounding. It seemed like everything was fine as it was until they needed something. It didn’t matter if the beds were left unmade or the dishes weren’t washed. It was deemed that these menial tasks were unimportant in daily life. The village was in poor condition, leaving the impression that these people lived on the line of poverty. This was true as most of the inhabitants found that money was unnecessary and instead chose to barter for goods.

At the time Abagail had seemed out of place. Her newly polished black shoes glared in the sun and her pearly white leggings stood out like a sore thumb. From first impressions it was obvious that she didn’t belong here. These were people who hadn’t the faintest idea about civilization. And she had come from one of the most sophisticated families that she ever met. First impressions were not one of Abagail’s strong points, for she stood there awkwardly clutching a small suitcase in her tiny hands. Almost everyone stared at her in disbelief, either shocked at the girl standing in a clean cotton dress, or at the fact that her skin and hair were pale.

Abagail was the first person that didn’t come from a darker skin complexion. In a sea of darkened faces Abagail’s was the only that stood out. She had wavy blonde hair around shoulder length, not anything uncommon from what she was used to. But to the villagers this was almost unimaginable. They had never seen a person that had blonde hair before. As if all in were in a trance, the people began to approach her and stroke her hair. They let if fall between their fingertips, and felt the smoothness wash over their hands. To them this was like a dream.

Through the midst of all this, her uncle had come to retrieve her. She had never met her uncle before so she had no idea what to expect. But soon she became quite accustomed to his presence. Abagail had followed him through the village and into the hut where they lived. There were minimal objects of comfort inside, but at least she could see her aunts smiling face.

She had met her aunt before. Before she had come to her mother’s house and told of her plans to marry her uncle. At the time she was fully aware that he was being offered a job on a reserve in Africa and that the only way he could study the animals in their natural habitat was to become a true African. If she were to go with him, she knew that she would have to uproot herself from her family and friends, and start a whole new life on a different continent. Taking on the challenge would prove to be the biggest commitment of her entire life, but she was willing to accept it. So this was how they had come to live in a desolate village in the grasslands of Africa.

To Abagail live in the orphanage seemed better than this. Here she had nothing. She was only here as a pawn in a great scheme of life. But at least she knew that she had some family that cared enough about her to willingly accept her into their lives.

On her first official day as a villager, Abagail’s foster mother had given her a blank book. It contained pages of unused paper. This book was to become her new best friend. Her aunt had told her that in this book she must record all that happens, both the good and the bad. Abagail promised that she would remain faithful to it. Every day she submitted an entry, usually telling about the days chores or sometimes about certain people that she had began to get to know. And Abagail had snatched that journal before she ran for her life. She shoved it into a bag along with some bread, and whatever else had been lying on the table. Now Abagail opened the bag and removed the hard covered book. Her hands trembled as she turned to the next available page.

Cholera. The word that drives the fear through the village. That is what I am running from. This morning my aunt died, and left me with no other message than to run. I didn’t think. I just ran. I just ran into the grasslands, disobeying the rule of leaving the village. But I am sure that this is safer than being trapped in the village just waiting to die. There is no doubt that I would have gotten the disease next, for I was the only healthy one in the family. I am thankful that I am still strong enough to run, and that I have will to keep me alive. I must not give up for all is lost when we lose hope. I know that running away is not the best plans but I had no other choice. My aunt commanded me to run, and at the time I was so overcome by fear that I just obeyed her. I didn’t think of anything at the time. I didn’t know where I was going, and I still don’t know, but I know that I am running from the disease. Soon it will spread across the grasslands and there will be no place to run. Tomorrow I will travel when the sun arises and stop when it sinks beneath the horizon line. I do not know where I am headed but hopefully I will run into another village before it is too late. It is so dark I can hardly make out these words I am printing on the page. I must stop now, and rest for in the morning, the real journey begins.

The first rays of light were beginning to touch the point where the ground and the sky blended into one. It was early, and Abagail knew that time was of the essence. Nothing was uttered and not one tear was shed in despair as Abagail slung her bag onto her back, and made for the grassland. There was no use in feeling sorry for herself, partly because there was no way that it could get any worse and partly because there was nobody in range to hear it. Pity could only get the better of a person, and it was better that a person move on instead of wallowing in their own misfortune.
Abagail moved slowly over the grass deliberately watching her feet bend the tall grasses. She felt as though with every step there was a sliver of hope, and that maybe someone would find her. With every step she took she was that much closer to a village or city, with people that would help and care for her. The sun continually beat upon her back, scorching her shoulders. They penetrated the skin, burning it to a crisp. Her eyes were squinty from the sunlight, and she desperately wanted to stop. But stopping seemed like sudden death. If she was to get anywhere she had to start now. Motivation was key, and Abagail grew weary as she realized that she didn’t have anything to motivate her.
She sat upon the dusty ground and pulled out her diary. If nothing else, she would vow to make sure that every page was filled with her survival memories, so that if anyone should ever find her, they would realize what she had endured.
I know that I must push forward for my survival, but right now the cause seems hopeless. Why would anyone want me? I am a burden to all that must be inconvenienced from my existence. What am I searching for as I brave the entire grasslands of Africa? There is no hope that I will have a family waiting for me at the other side. Even when I reach my destination, what am I to accomplish? Nobody would believe the story that I would be forced to tell. It seems highly unlikely that a small child would cross the desert all alone without any help. I am but an orphan that has no use to the world. Nobody would miss me if I were to disappear. In fact, nobody would hear me if I screamed. Nobody would run for the girl that wasn’t there. Nobody will come for the girl that isn’t worth saving. So why am I to believe that I am different? I am no different than a rock lying motionless on the floor.
Here the sun is unforgiving and does not care if you are young or old, strong or weak. It sees no boundaries and attacks viscously. If I am to assume that no beasts will come upon me and devour my soul, what is the chance that I will survive the sun and its merciless heat? Dehydration cannot be that far off, and soon the time will come that I will slowly and painfully cease to exist. And nobody would even know that I was gone. And if I was gone, then there would be no emotion or anything that could get in the way. I just wouldn’t feel a thing. It would be like ridding yourself of all responsibilities, troubles, worries or fears. I do not fear dying, but I fear that I might have to live another day on this Earth wanting and knowing that I cannot have it. So with all hopes lost, there is no other choice, but to perish in the hands of the merciless gods, who seem to think that I am unworthy of existence. I hope that whoever finds this diary shall know my perils and how it came to be. And for all to know that Abagail will soon be no more.

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