Grey Hallway to Freedom

A girl, Nikki, aged 17 has spent her entire life inside an orphanage. She's most known inside the orphanage for her retelling of the story Rapunzel, which will inevitably assist her on her journey in life. After a strange encounter with a mystery man she may become tempted with adventure. Throughout her journey she talks to you, a new kid on the estate. This is a tale of heartbreak, adventure and most importantly hope.


2. The Great Escape


Planning to leave is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’d stolen a spare book from the study room to make notes about my great escape. To write each instruction in as much detail as possible. This notebook, ratty, old and falling apart, held all of my most valuable secrets. It was home to lists of items, routes out of here, plans on what to do when I breach the estate, imaginings of how I would save the other children. This book was filled with scribbles and diagrams, scrappings and words. This book was just about full by the time I left. I’ll have to show you when I get back.

                I made lists of the foods I’d need to store from dinner, the ones that would last the longest. Like the small biscuit packets we get each morning tea. Like the juice powder’s we’d get with lunch. I have collected a bunch of water bottles for my journey. Stealing things from the home is never easy, I’m constantly engulfed with a mixture of anxiety and excitement. The fear of getting caught is so extravagant, but the determination to allow these children a future is much greater. I collected all of the necessities listed in my broken down notebook. Blankets, pillow cases, clothes, lights, torches, food, water, pens, pencils, books, maps. I did a lot of research as well. You know, there was a time when kids from the orphanage used to be able to play outside the walls, but now, we can’t leave. I wonder what those children got to see. I wonder why we can never go outside anymore. Remember Rapunzel? From the story I told you to tell the kids? I wonder if she ever thought, just like me, that the walls she was confined by created a sort of microcosm of the outside world. The library here had no pictures of the outside world, not real ones at least. There were sketches and paintings, but no pictures. Not of the world I was soon to be in. Though I did find some maps, the names on these maps, they’re so exotic. There’s a place named Serengeti. I wonder who named it, I want to know why they named it that. Why, when they found that place, they looked around and thought, ‘ah yes, you know what this place needs to be called? Serengeti.’ Whoever it is that made that decision, I would like to meet them. What an intriguing person they must be to think of a name like that. Perhaps, maybe, they speak a different language from me, much like some of the transferred children. Maybe I’ll learn new words on my journey. Maybe I’ll go to Serengeti and meet someone who will teach me how to understand their words, and maybe I can teach them mine.

                I’m scared. Of leaving. I’ve been here my entire life. I don’t know what it’s like out there. Beyond those walls could be any number of things. Beyond the walls that have constrained me my entire existence, there could be something so miraculous and beautiful that I may never wish to return. However, beyond those walls that have kept me safe in isolation, there may be horrors beyond imagination, it may be full of sadness and darkness, and I may wish to return to the estate once more. I may want to beg the head lady for her forgiveness, for her acceptance back into the estate. The unknown is as frightening as it is exciting. I don’t know what’s beyond those walls, and let me tell you, I really hate not knowing.

                It’s been a few weeks since I’ve decided I’m going to take a journey. You’ve been eating well lately, although, you still haven’t spoken to me. I talk to you all the time though. I wonder if it annoys you. I wonder if you ever hear me making noise and think ‘Oh god, when will she shut up?’ The answer, quite frankly, is never. So long as I have a voice I will use it. I will talk and sing and shout for the whole world, well, the whole estate, to hear. Most of the other kids here have come to accept it. I’m about to eat my last meal here at the estate. I wonder if you’re going to miss me. Can you even understand what I’m saying? Wouldn’t that be ironically amusing, if all this time, if for the past few months of our acquaintance you couldn’t understand any words that came from my mouth? Now that would make me laugh. The dinner tonight is pretty well done. I wonder who was on cooking duty. Probably one of the older kids, none of the younger kids can cook. Tonight’s the last cleaning duty I’ll ever complete while I’m here. I better go start. When you walk in the kitchen in the estate it looks rather industrial. It’s big enough to cook food to cater for the hundreds. I mean, this is an orphanage, but this kitchen is far too fancy to be operated accurately and efficiently by children. And the only people here, apart from the carers, who don’t do much really, are children. Majority of the children here couldn’t even reach the higher shelves. I mean, I have to use a chair to reach. Just about everyone’s gone to sleep for the night. The carers are all heading off, and the head lady’s come in to ask me to turn the lights off when I’m done. Little do they know that when I’m done, I’m out of here. I just have to finish gathering some things, some more perishables, some cloth, and some cleaning products. I’ve been waiting for my cleaning duty so I can get these last things.

                The orphanage is rather peaceful once everyone is asleep. Sneaking through the halls with just a torch and a backpack big enough to squeeze in the things I require for my journey. I left a letter for you under your pillow. I hope you find it before they find out I’m missing. You know, our room looked real empty after I took all my stuff out. I didn’t want to leave you with the burden of having to clean it. I have to tread lightly on the stairs, I don’t want them to squeak and wake up the head lady. One of the carers will be checking all of the rooms in about twenty minutes, I have to be gone by then. Though, I really have twenty-six minutes if you take into account the amount of time it takes for the carer to get to our room. I can’t go out the front or back door, they both have alarms set to go off if they’re opened before dawn. My only way out is through the bathroom. Some of the tiles around one of the large drains are loose. I’ve been fiddling with them for weeks. I can just squeeze through. It’s wet and smelly down here. I have to crawl through and carry the bag behind me. If my investigation, which I did during our free time, is correct, I should come out next to the rainwater tank. And, as usual, I was correct. I have to walk to the side wall, the front and back have better monitoring, and if I go to the right side wall – the one on the side of the tank – there’s a bunch of trees. As I climb up the one tree close enough to the fence to jump over, I look down at my watch. The alarms will be going off any moment, it’s been twenty-five minutes. The carer is on her way to my room. I throw the bag over the side of the fence. I swing the branch I’m sitting on back and forth until I have enough motion that I know, when I jump, I’ll projectile over the wall.

The landing was not soft, and, now that I’m on the other side. I’ve realised how potentially dangerous that could have been. There could have been people, or a cliff, or a trap, and I would’ve jumped straight into it. Thankfully though, all that was here was more trees. Much like the ones inside the walls, though these ones were different. These ones were free. Just as I stood, admiring the trees, the alarm bells began to ring. That was my cue. I picked up my back and began running. I didn’t know exactly where I was running, unlike Rapunzel I was not lucky enough to have a guide, but I was running. It felt so good to be running. For the first time in my life I was not trapped. I was free. Like a bird, flying for the first time after being let out of it’s cage. I was finally out of my cage, I’d escaped from my isolated tower. And I was on my way out of here. I decided not to follow the road, they’d think of me to go that way. I ran so fast. I couldn’t hear the bells anymore, and the only lights around me were those of the sky; the stars and the moon. I ran for hours. I ran in one direction. I ran and ran and ran. I didn’t stop running until the sun came up. I took a break then. I stopped and had a drink. I sat on a large rock. There was a cliff, I wasn’t too far from the edge. And I was looking out at it. Watching as the sun rose on the horizon. I wish you could’ve been there, I’m sure you would’ve loved it. Anyone would’ve loved it. It was so beautiful. The cool colours of the ocean, the blues and greens, blended into dawn against the pink sky, and the warm colours of the sunrise. In front of my eyes, on that early morning, I could see heaven. I could finally see the heaven they speak of in fairy tales and folk law. The place you depart to after death, the place that brings you ultimate happiness. I’d found it. I reached my hand toward it, I reached out toward the beautiful blending colours of dawn. And, much like my current state of freedom, although I could see it, I could not yet reach it. Although I had escaped from those walls, my fate was still in the palm of the estate. At this point I had nowhere to go. And at most, the food and drink I’d stolen would last me two weeks. The reality of my situation began to kick in at this point. I was free; partly. I was alone; completely. I was lost; Whole heartedly. I was afraid; undeniably. But was I happy? I think so yes. 

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