Xiao Sing suffers in a Chinese prison, persecuted for her faith.
Word Count 887
Xiao Sing stumbles into her tiny cell, damp with sorrow, both she and her cell. The musty smell welcomes her back and she takes a deep breath, grateful for the scent. "Feels like it's never gonna..." She stops herself. She'd taken up talking to herself months ago. She was the only friendly voice she heard these days, so she felt it was important to speak aloud.
Feels like a song that never stops. She slowly paces the filthy, fetid floor. Mimicking one of her captors in an unflattering voice, "Renounce Him! Renounce Christ!"
She takes another deep breath. She hadn't always held as strongly as she'd have liked. She had renounced him in moments of anguished weakness. The pain had been too much, the suffering unrelenting. But she had taken it all back, time and time again she ping ponged, though never vacillating in her faith, she did waver in her words. After all, she wasn't Peter who had asked to be crucified upside down because he said he wasn't worthy to die as his Savior did. Xiao Sing understood this, but she failed her Father time and time again. Renouncing her faith, then later recanting. "Feels like the cycle never stops," she says to herself. "You are weak, Xiao Sing. It is only your body. It is only pain." Yet, the "only" doesn't feel real, not real like the pain does.
"I'll shout it on the count of three. One. Two. Three." Silence. She can't bring her self to shout right now. She's scared. Too scared of being dragged out yet again. She understands that there was no point in the fear. They are going to do what they are going to do and she is going to do what she is going to do, as best she can. But she doesn't want to invite the cycle to begin again so soon. She wonders when they are going to push things too far, when she is going to finally die. She can't take her own life, but sometimes she thinks it better if they did.
Xiao Sing rests her shoulder and head against the cold wall. It drains some of the heat from her, but it feels good, cooling her fever. She can't remember the last time she didn't feel feverish. But she doesn't mind it. It reminds her of what awaits her in the afterlife if she doesn't hold to her faith. She doesn't cry much these days. She is exhausted, dehydrated, and it doesn't help anymore, anyway. Only when it gets too bad or when she feels it might cause them to give her a moment of relief.
"Yeah, back when I was young, my eyes were full of life. Now, my bones are broken and my heart is cold." She thinks to herself, trying to find words to encourage herself. "Gotta get that fire...fire back in my bones before my heart...heart turns into stone." She knew her heart turning to stone was a very real possibility, not physically, of course, but because of the lack of...of anything good. Does talking to herself help? She hopes. She'd heard American Soldiers were trained to lean on their faith and to be kind to themselves when they broke under torture. She wondered if they were ever tortured for their faith. She'd heard horrible things happened in America. Perhaps that was one of them.
For the ten thousandth time since her captivity many months ago, she wishes for a window, even a small one to let in a tiny beam of moonlight, something to let her know God is there, is listening to her. "Father...Oh hear my prayer tonight. I'm singing to the sky." She closes her eyes to imagine pin point stars breaking through a cloudy night. "Oh hear my prayer tonight. 'Cause this is do or die. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of night Oh, with You by my side, I'm stepping into the light." She thinks she feels the light hit her eyes and she squinches them tighter for protection.
Growing up, Xiao Sing's father had taught her that she was in charge of herself, of her feelings, her emotions and that those helped guide her destiny. He said, "We can't always control what happens to us. But we can control how we feel about it. Your thoughts and emotions control your destiny. Through them you will find sorrow or you will find joy," he told her.
She speaks aloud again, "Xiao Sing, the time has come to make a choice. I choose joy. Yeah, I choose joy." She smiles to herself. She knows it isn't easy, but nothing had been lately. And while this feeling might not last, she wants to bask in it while she can. The darkness and loneliness will creep back soon enough, but for now she begs her Father, "Forgive me of my weaknesses, Father. I don't mean to fail You! Let me be strong enough to show them who You are. Give me strength to raise my voice. Let me testify."
She opens her eyes suddenly at the faint scent of roses. But she sees nothing. She draws in a breath deeper than she has in a long time. She knows she'll fail her Father again, but not right now. because for now, she chooses joy.