27 of them brought me here. At least I think so, they are the last thing I remember, but even then, I could be wrong. There were low, robotic rhythms that weren’t quite familiar to me. Had I been kidnapped? I wasn’t moving, so maybe I was being held hostage. There were restraints on my physical body, but I was not apart of my physical self, anyway. I could hear low murmurs, but I couldn’t decipher their words, or if it was even a human language at all. I could only see dark patterns, gray smoke, then sharp flashes of white light that blinded me, overwhelmed my sight and senses, though my senses were too numb to process any feelings.
27 of them brought me to this border. I wanted so badly to cross it, I felt whispers encouraging me to continue, but maybe 27 wasn’t enough to guarantee in a place like this. I laughed with the whispers, who morphed into figures that looked as if they were made of waterfalls of smoke, ever pouring back into themselves. They laughed with me and enticed me to stay with them from now on, endlessly, forever. I was tempted and seduced, yet I couldn’t bring myself to do it; 27 wasn’t enough in a place like this. Not yet, anyway.
I next received them in sets of 5, then 3, then 5 again. Breakfast, lunch, then dinner. I was now living in a state of complete white light during these routines, constantly surrounded by four white walls, before being in complete solitude and darkness at night. There was someone who checked up on me during the time that I was supposed to be asleep. It was just to make sure that I was ‘alive’ or breathing. My solitude was interrupted by a guest. A rope had brought them here. I told them about my 27 and they talked about their rope.
The one in charge finally saw me. I was pushed into a corner. Questions and scolds were thrown at me until another set of 6 or 7 were given to me. How was it that I had surpassed by original 27 and felt worse than before them? I couldn’t ask these questions, not if I wanted to leave this place. So, I kept taking the next set and nodded along when they told me to. Sometimes I wished I had pushed my number to 35, 40, 60, to push me into death finally, others I wish it had been 0, but I was increasingly forgetting what the 27 had once meant to me. It was all the same to me- 27, the sets of 6, 3, or 7, the one.
96 was my final number. The artificial light was replaced by natural ones that were equally blinding and confusing to my senses. They didn’t quiet the grey paradise and its creatures, continually taunting me and growing louder as I returned to my ‘regular’ schedule. I was given new prescriptions with numbers of 30 and 60 but I never took them. I don’t remember my life before the numbers.
Laura is a 23 year old college student at South Texas College, living in Mcallen, Tx. Their dream has always been to run their own self sustainable farm, selling excess products at farmer’s markets while writing and publishing literature during down time. They are transgender and identify with non-binary. They prefer they/them and he/him pronouns over she/her pronouns, despite being assigned the gender ‘female’. They hope to write modern, influential literature for this generation.

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