“Will you come out now?”


Than answer is automatic and emphatic, a monotone syllable through the bars of a cell.

“Why won’t you come out? It can’t be comfortable in there…”

Silence is the only reply, and the figured huddled in the cell draws itself closer together, as though trying to swallow itself whole.

“Alright. I’ll leave you alone.”

The visitor leaves, and the captive is left in blissful peace, head resting on her knees as she holds herself together and refuses to leave her cell. It’s safe here, dark and quiet and so far away from the people that can hurt her. It’s perfect.


“Will you come out now?”


The answer is accompanied by something being thrown against the cell’s bars, the disjointed scream of metal on metal jarring to the ears.

“Why won’t you come out? You know you’re stronger than them.”

The silence is filled with words the captive cannot say, will not say, but they are still tangible in the air. Insults and vulgarities that she wishes to spit at the visitor.

“Alright. I’ll leave you alone.”

The visitor leaves and the captive slumps against her cell wall, staring at the bars. Rage seethes just under her skin, like lightning through her veins, and it hums audibly in her ears. She wants to hit, to hurt, to break and tear and crush. She wants to make them all bleed.


“Will you come out now?”

“Do I have to?” Her eyes are wide and confused, her face betraying how she feels inside.

“Yes, you have to.”

“I don’t want to.” She speaks from inside the room, hiding from the rest of the world. She doesn’t want them to see, doesn’t want them to know…

“You can’t hide in there forever.” 

I can try.

“Are you coming out, or aren’t you?”

“I’ll be out in just a minute.” She shoves down the part of her that wants to scream, to wrench the door open and strangle the persistent person on the other side. She puts her back to the door, slides down onto the floor, and hugs her knees to her chest. She wants to hide. Hiding is safe. Hiding means she doesn’t have to lie; doesn’t have to keep all her emotions inside.

“Will you please come out now?” The voice is different, the insistent tone replaced with a gentle, warm one. “Please? We’ll stay with you. We’ll keep you safe.”

“You can’t keep me safe from myself.” She responds instantly, dipping her head to hide her face. Tears burn in her eyes, and she bites back a sob. Holding it in means she’ll have a terrible headache, but at least the others won’t hear.

“We can try.” The voice says softly, imploringly, using her own favorite phrase against her. This time, it’s not an excuse, or a tactic to avoid a problem, it’s a promise. A promise to never let her bruise, bleed, or break beyond repair. A promise to keep her safe. “Will you please come out now?”

She stands, opens the door, and peeks past it into the world that waits for her on the other side. Maybe, it won’t be so bad… Maybe, she won’t have to hide…


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