Chapter 1: Bed of Towels

Chapter 1 of a new series I’m creating! Title TBD…

I woke up before the dawn because my feet were cold and damp. The pile of towels on top of me kept sliding off rather than falling into place, meaning parts of me were too warm and others were too cold.

The bed I sleep on is towels too. Everything is towels and everything is damp.

“Hey.”

I looked down at my toe and said hi to it. Not all of my toes, just the one sticking out of the hole in my sock. I’m alone down here so I often need to speak to things to keep from going crazy.

As the sleep drifted off of my eyebrows, I sat up and listened to the day. Just like every day, I saw the green splotch on the wall where water always slowly runs down it. The walls are concrete and the floor is concrete and I don’t know what the ceiling is made of, but I have a long fluorescent light to illuminate my room.

There used to be two light bulbs next to each other, but one has died so now it’s just her sister that gives me light. It always hums and there are always little shadows running up and down the tube like an army of ants. I don’t know what they are. Sometimes I wish the light would just be solid because the flickering gives me a headache sometimes, but it also gives her a little personality.

I’m on my pile of towels and there is a door without a handle and also my books. I keep them on the far side of the room so the green splotch water doesn’t ruin them. One night I fell asleep reading a book and it fell to the floor and got ruined by the water over night. Now I make sure not to fall asleep reading anymore so I don’t lose any more books.

Mr. White tells me not to cry.

He is the one who brings my food and takes my potty bucket and also gives me helpful rules for living my life. He says I have potential and if I am disciplined and work hard and, most importantly, follow all his rules, I can do anything I want in life.

I sit on my towel bed a bit longer, enjoying the dripping sound on green splotch and looking around my room. I don’t get as lonely as I used to. It used to hurt a lot to be alone so much. I eventually got used to it though and came to appreciate the silence. Mr. White tells me that outside, a lot of kids my age are glued to their music and TV shows and can’t just enjoy the silence and their own thoughts.

I never know when Mr. White will show up, but I feel my stomach gurgling within me and hope he comes soon.

There are always footsteps upstairs. Throughout the day I often hear voices, but can’t make out any words they are saying. I hear the static sounds of machines, but I don’t know what they do.

I was young when I came here. I have hazy memories of the world outside my room, but I lose some every day. I remember my mother holding me, and I also remember her yelling a lot. I don’t remember my father. I asked Mr. White about this one time, and he said I am your father now, don’t worry. Then he told me not to cry.

He always says that, even if I’m not about to cry.

Finally, I hear footsteps coming down the stairs and then I hear the clicking of the door.

“Good morning!” said Mr. White with a smile. He had a brown paper bag in his hand, and he brought it over to my towel bed. “I have some rolls and Pop-Tarts for you,” He reached into the bag and pulled out a clear bag of rolls and a box that said TOASTER BRAND on it.

“Why do you call them Pop-Tarts if the box says something different?” I asked him.

He didn’t answer, he just ripped the bottom of the box open and shook out two of the foil-wrapped packages. “It’s, uhh…” he started. “These are better than Pop-Tarts! Yah, these are the nice ones that everyone wants. Pop-Tarts are the cheaper, more common ones so that’s what everyone calls them.”

This made me excited. I knew Mr. White always took good care of me.

“What are we going to do today?” I asked him. Some days he took me out of my room and we got to do fun things outside. One time we walked in a forest, and another time we went to the city. For some reason, he always blindfolds me when we leave the room until we get where we’re going. Then he takes it off. He says it’s because he doesn’t want me to see where I live. He didn’t really say why though.

“Well,” he said, “unfortunately, I am busy with work today. The machines are running a lot today and we have a lot of guests coming in upstairs. So I need to take care of them.”

He said that most days. I still got my hopes up every day, just in case we did something different.

“Sorry, Sam,” he said quietly. He knew it had been a while since I had gone out. “But I tell you what! Maybe I’ll go out and get you a new book today…if I have time.”

That did get me excited! I love new books.

Mr. White stood up as he folded the brown paper bag. “I’ll see you in a few hours, Sam. And remember, no crying.”

“Okay,” I said.

He paused at the door and turned back. “And Sam, today let’s not sing either. Or talk to anyone. These floors are thin so people can hear you. I don’t want to disturb my important guests today.” He smiled, then quickly turned and walked out the door without a handle.

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