The World Outside

I love my family, and I love our life here — yet I cannot help but be curious about the world out there, the world beyond the confines of my home and beyond the loving embrace of my parents.

They say that there is nothing for me in the world outside. They say that our life here is perfect… I want to believe them, I really do, but why then do they get that look in their eyes when I ask… that dreamy, teary-eyed look. It is as if they see something that I do not, as if they are looking in my direction but not really seeing me.

I do not mean to be rude or to seem ungrateful because I know that they are doing their very best for me, but then why won’t they tell me… do they not see that I cannot contain this part of me much longer; this part of me willing to do anything should it mean finding out the truth.

I lay down in my bed, clutching a rusty key, one I stole from them earlier this night, a key leading to the outside.

Above me extends the sky-blue ceiling, sky blue because apparently, it is the same color as the “sky.” My parents always talk about the world outside as “our world,” but did they ever consider that it’s not my world yet — all I have ever known is this metallic dome we call home. I want to see the sky, the real sky. I reach with my hand out towards the artificial sky, longing to reach beyond the ceiling, to grasp the real sky that should be beyond.

I have always believed that seeking out the unknown is something that humans do, willingly or not, and once I found out that there was something out there, I could not stop myself.

For as long as I’ve known, the entire world was our home, and there existed nothing else, but then I picked up the book my father had left on the table, and when I looked inside, I saw another world, and therein I read stories that seemed so vivid and real…

Stories about the earth, stories about the world we supposedly inhabit. It could be fiction… I am still not sure, but I’ve had my doubts, and what I’ve read made it all come together in such a way that it may actually be true. It does not make sense that my family and I are the only humans alive, nor that there is infinite blackness beyond the door.

Yes, I saw it. I know there is a door behind the bookshelf, and I saw my father come back in from it, key in hand.

Now it is in my hand.

After reading the book, I confronted my father, and I can vividly recall how he pressed down the tips of his fingers to the bridge of his nose, sad eyes, and head low. He motioned for me to sit down on the couch beside him, his cold blue eyes piercing mine.

He’s known in our family as somewhat of a jokester, but that day, there was no doubt that he meant what he said.

“There is a world out there, my son; there is more than nothingness out there. You told me about having read a story about a man traveling the world, sailing the seas, and flying the skies, and I confess, it is all true. Now I realize that you may hate us for this, but there really was no other way. Please believe me when I say that things are better in here, that the world outside is no place to be.”

He took hold of my hand and looked at me, an unmistakable look, one of genuine concern and warmth. Tense moments passed as I considered what he had just said, and a part of me thought that he was making things up, that he would soon be bursting out in a fit of laughter. However, it all made sense to another deeper part of me, and I knew that my world would never be the same again.

The clock calls out, and the time has come to reassemble the pieces. My body twitches with anticipation as I roll out of bed. Clutching the key to remind me it is still there, and a deep breath reminds me that I am still here. Soon, I am going to do something dangerous and utterly rebellious… it feels strange. I have never done anything remotely rebellious before.

Hesitation and reluctance wash over me like a wave of nausea, and my stomach rumbles. What if I am about to do something that I can never come back from? What if the world out there is dangerous… what if I inadvertently not only betray my parents’ trust but also doom myself in the process?

No. This is the way. It hurt, it hurts a lot, but I cannot live with being ignorant of the truth, not when I’ve already got a taste of it.

I view my room for what may be the last time, taking the time to bathe in this pool of fond memories. The guitar my father gave me when I turned 11, playing cards scattered across the striped carpet. I continue through the room, my eyes widening as I pass over my most treasured item, a framed picture featuring our family, all smiles and laughter.

I can still vividly recollect the day this picture was taken. My dad had just constructed a new toy train for me, and I was so happy. We all were so happy. I wanted nothing but to freeze time as it was, forever soaking in that indescribable joy of being loved.

A single tear rolls down my cheek, and I try to blink it away, but more and more tears come flowing down.

I move stuff the picture in my pocket before leaving my room, leaving the last 15 years of my life behind as I close the door.

I leave the note at the kitchen table, a note on which I have scribbled a message of farewell and promises that I will return one day. And then I take a determined step towards the bookshelf, behind which is the door leading to freedom.

My parents are sleeping, so I gently push the shelf, allowing it to take its time, for much is at risk should I fail. In a stroke of bad luck, a book falls out — fingers brushing against the book as it falls beyond my grasp, and so it hits the ground with a loud thump.

My teeth are pressed close together tight as I start to panic. Please say that they continue sleeping; please be deep into dreamland. The clock ticks, and my heart beats to its rhythm. Please. Please. Seconds become minutes, and at last, I take a sigh of relief.

My hand trembles as I move it closer to the keyhole.

*Click, the door opens.

The cold wind hits me head-on, and the light of the outside world is blinding.

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