You become what you're told, if you're told anything at all. *1000-word oneshot*
Frank’s thoughts are dilluded and vague, no one ever taught him how to speak properly, so his conception of the world is wordless. From the day he could eat on his own, he’s been in this cell. Frank can’t remember anything but it.
It’s a square with a bunk and a toilet bowl, a shower stall and a glass wall. On the other side of the glass is another boy.
That’s how it’s always been, and the boy on the other side of the transparent glass could be Frank himself, for all he knows. The other room looks the same. There’s no privacy, not even curtains in the showers, no place to hide.
They usually sit on either side of the glass wall, in the corner, palms reflecting each other. It’s the closest they ever get to a friendly encounter with another human being. Sometimes they cry, sometimes they just stare at each other, occasionally they’re smiling. Sometimes they press every inch of their bodies close to the glass and lets the warmth from their skins mix.
No noises pass through the glass, knocking sounds hollow. Frank always wonders how the other boy sounds when he’s crying. Frank sniffles and wheezes, and he keeps rocking and wiping at his face with papery hands, but the other boy is so still. He never dries his tears, just leaves them be.
Frank seldomly uses his bunk bed, he rather sleeps curled up by the wall, staring intently into the other boy’s eyes. It’s never dark except for when Frank closes his eyes, and Frank likes to see the color in the other boy’s irises, the slopes and plains of his body and the way his soft, brown hair dries after their daily shower. His pointy nose.
When the guards walk in to find the two boys sleeping by the glass wall without any clothes, they stop bringing new ones.
Before, people used to come in and teach them things. How to use the toilet or make the bed. Dress. Clean up. Those people always wore blank, faceless masks. They would have looked strange to anyone else, but Frank only knew of them and the other boy, and naturally he started to think of himself as the strange one.
Nowadays, they only bring a tray of food and a glass of water, still wearing their faceless masks. Frank knows that food is what makes your stomach stop feeling empty, but he doesn’t know how to do the same to his chest.
One time, the person bringing Frank his food drops the glass of water while taking it out. Frank has done it before, but since he spends most of his time either sitting or lying on the floor, nothing like this ever happened.
The glass breaks into tiny crystalline pieces, spraying out onto the floor. Frank sits still in the corner while the faceless people remove the broken glass, and they don’t really pay much attention to him. They missvalued his intelligence though. Just because no one taught you how to be smart doesn’t mean you’re bound to be stupid. As soon as the faceless people leave, Frank is on his feet.
He pounds the glass wall with his hands and the other boy pounds right back. Not even a crack spreads through the window.
When Frank was younger, he used to hate taking showers. He’d kick and scream and the faceless people would end up smacking his head with the hard, metal shower-nozzle. Sometimes, Frank would black out and wake up in his bed.
The hose is tough to bite through, but by the time the faceless people have brought him two more meals, it’s all chewed off. The other boy is waiting patiently in their corner, watching Frank with his big, hazel doe-eyes.
The wall doesn’t budge when Frank lunges at it with the nozzle, but after a while of beating, there is a tiny dent in the glass. It’s white and powdery and cracks are windling their way out from the spot. Frank’s hands are bleeding from the sharp edges of the nozzle. The other boy is crying.
The silence is heavier than it ever was before when a tiny hole is finally punctuating the thick, bulletproof glass. They stare at each other over the web of cracks and it doesn’t feel like an accomplishment. Maybe because neither of them knows how accomplishment feels, or perhaps because they haven’t succeeded yet.
Then the other boy lets out a small cry, and Frank’s finger is suddenly poking through the hole. The other boy backs away. Frank throws himself with his entire weight at the glass and it crumbles at the first blow, weakened from all the pounding.
No one ever told Frank you can’t break bulletproof glass. He didn’t know. But a child will remain a child if you treat it like one. A flea won’t jump higher than the roof of the cage, even when the cage is gone, even though a wild flea can jump three times as high. Frank never knew the definition of a child and no one ever told him what was supposed to be impossible. He didn’t know.
They’re so very much like brothers, know every quirk of each other’s looks and behaviour, but still, they are nothing but strangers.
Every breath Frank takes echoes back to him through the other boy, every curious hand on a chest, an eyebrow, is answered with another one, tracing an ear or the lenght of an arm. It feels like nothing Frank’s ever felt before, the other boy is warm and soft and smells different than Frank himself, dispite their identical bars of soap.
A few hours later, the faceless people come in to sweep the broken glass away.