Silas

Silas was imprisoned far away in a remote castle dungeon. Day after day he faced four walls of despair and misery. Higher in one wall of the cell was a small barred window where he could see just enough light to know whether it was day or night.  He had a rough wooden bench for sleeping, an old blanket and a pot in the corner that was emptied daily.  The jailer bought him a daily meal which looked and tasted the same as the last.

He would try to talk to the jailer but was met with silence. Sometimes he would get angry and beat on the walls until his knuckles were raw and bleeding. Sometimes he would yell and shout until he had no voice left and he fell to his knees in abject misery and despair. Sometimes he would try to do mental exercises for something to hold onto — he was afraid he was losing his sanity.

In the days and weeks Silas lost track of time. It was all the same. He felt he was falling into a deep dark pit. It went down and down interminably. When he felt himself falling into the pit, he would imagine the most fearful creatures were going to absorb him and snuff out its existence. Sometimes he wondered if he even existed at all. Then one night, he felt he reached the bottom of the pit. There was no feeling — just numbness — nothingness.

After that he sat and waited. What was he waiting for? Rescue? Would someone realise his plight and try to secure his release? Why was here?  Someone must tell him surely? Silas would try to think but give up in despair.

Sometimes he would give way to bitter tears — at other times the numbness would return. Whether because of poor diet, his state of misery or just how it happened, he seemed to always have something wrong with him. He had aching limbs and pains that came and went in different parts of his body. His head felt so noisy sometimes he would beat it with his fists to try to get some peace. Abandoned and forgotten, this was no life — just in existence.

Then something happened that was to change everything. Silas was dozing on the bench when he had a curious dream. Curious because normally his dreams were full of dark misery; this dream was full of light.  He was walking along a path through woods and red, brown and yellow autumn colours. He felt the crunch of dry leaves under his feet and smelt the crisp smell of an early frost. Birds were singing above him and the sun was dappling the tree trunks with my light.

They Silas awoke he felt calm for the first time he could remember. That day, small things started to change. He held onto his dream and relived it from time to time. With each replaying, he would add something to it. He could make things happen! He put people into this dream in his head. He would have conversations with them. Conversations he chose. There was another change. He would add clouds to the sky and imagine he could feel a gentle breeze. Gradually he started to feel strength that he had not felt for a long time.

There was another change. His jailer would exchange a few words with him. As the weeks passed, Silas began to feel different. He started to feel … what was it? It was as if the walls did not exist only his imagination.

Then one day his jailor came to a cell without food and motioned Silas to follow him.  A prisoner for so long, he felt his heart pounding. What was going to happen? His legs felt weak.  Then he experienced something he had only imagine for the past few months – Sunlight.. Silas covered his eyes against the brightness and when he uncovered them, he was alone and outside the castle gates. He was free.

Hilary Farmer

 

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