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‘Don’t stop!’

My thighs burn as I struggle to keep up with the prison guard.

I was told he could be trusted, my mother had paid him well, but as I run through the dark, narrow, underground tunnel, I wonder if he had agreed to help me escape because the money was good or if it was because he believed in the cause.

In the golden lamplight, the prison guard’s glossy eyes and damp leathery face remind me of my father. Ever since I can remember, he’s carried a constant uneasiness around with him like he’s always expecting the worst to happen, and more often than not, his fears are valid.

Yet he understands the sacrifices my mother has to make. The battles she chooses to fight will leave a dent in history until the end of time.

My heart pounds and sweat drips into my eyes. I wipe my brow with the back of my hand and look behind me to make sure no one is following.

‘We’re here,’ says the prison guard.

Ahead, moonlight seeps through a canopy of mature oak trees and the smell of dank earth fills my nostrils. I step out of the tunnel and he recovers a backpack from under some bracken ferns.

‘Everything you need is in here,’ he says as he hands it to me.

I unzip the bag, pull out a torch, and throw the backpack on my back.

The prison guard takes my arm and his tired eyes lock with mine. ‘For the record, I’m more afraid of them winning the election than I am of getting caught tonight. I have kids, you know?’

I nod as I try to catch my breath.

‘I may not agree with all the methods your mother uses to get what she needs, but I also understand that the only way she’s going to win is by playing by the same rules.’

‘My mother has the biggest heart of anyone I know,’ I say. ‘When she comes to power, the world as we know it will change for the good.’

The prison guard squeezes my arm and I catch sight of the same desperation that is simmering across the entire country.

‘Just tell me she’s going to—’. His voice is both thick and broken.

‘—she’ll win.’

The End

© Michelle Upton

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