Athena Hernandez - Aspiring Author
Quench Your Thirst for More

Work In Progress:

Taketh Away (YA Novel)

EXCERPT:
I clutch my hands in my lap and stare out the right rear window, my heart racing and pounding, my chest rising to strain. I feel the chill in the air forcing its way through my nostrils and out in a visible cloud of moisture. The ratty old blanket covering my shoulders reeks of mothballs and car fumes. The policewoman that pulled it from the trunk, Officer Brown, stands outside the door writing on a clipboard. A second policeman, Officer Alvarez, sits in the front seat talking into a radio scanner.

I breathe and inhale a stench that confuses my senses against the glaring sunlight streaming through the windows—a battle of good versus evil wages in this confined space. My own fearful perspiration blends with disinfectant and the sweat of the prior occupants of this same seat, destined for a different kind of hell. My mind wanders aimlessly on the cleaning regiment of cop cars and the unlikelihood that anything could wash away the human desperation that travels through this cage on wheels.

I look down at my hands, ashen and dry; my nails brittle and raggedly chewed to near bleeding. Disgusted by what I see, I weave my fingers inside each other to avoid looking at them, and rest my exhausted body against the cracked black vinyl seat. I slide my one personal possession--a journal--closer to me. It’s the only tangible reminder of the last year of my life. I stop fighting the heavy weight of my eyelids and let them fall, grateful for the safety of this vehicle and its front seat passengers.

With both officers inside now, fatigue takes over and I just listen, letting the cacophony of awkward sounds fill my ears. For enumerable days and nights, I was deprived of voices, human touch, and even the faintest of sounds. Now, I confront an onslaught of sounds. The roar of the engine…the sporadic, piercing hiss of the police radio…and the mysterious rattling in the trunk. I welcome them all. I have prayed and wished for the company of any noise, a flash of daylight, the comfort of another voice, or the companionship of another human. Today, with it all available to me, I embrace it.

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