by Jai B.

The rain poured down with the faint sound of thunder in the distance. My teammates complained, “This place sucks. We're stuck here in the pool with no outdoor practice. This is so bland! There's nothing interesting inside.” But I paid no attention to her.

Some people hated the rain and staying indoors, but it didn’t matter to me. I snuck away from the people and ran away from my swim practice. Not because I hated being inside, but quite the opposite. I was on a mission. A mission to find my freedom and explore the beauties of my world, and no bad weather would stop me from exploring.

Ahead of me, there it was: my hacking location. I walked through the doors and into the dark. Into emptiness. The great room was dark, silent, and eerie. Once a bustling auditorium filled with music and life, now stood still and quiet in the old grey school. My heart raced with nervousness and my stomach sang with joy as I walked through my room of freedom.

All alone with only myself and my passion for exploration, I wandered through the enormous but deserted room, feeling lighter and happier. For the first time, there was nobody to stop me. No rules. No work. Just me and my room of freedom.

Throughout my life, freedom was the last thing I felt. Money, school, and health were always a concern. My life was always dictated by these three things. And for the first time, as I wandered in the dark of this abandoned area, I felt free.

I opened the door to what seemed to be the stairwell, flipped the light and looked around at the spiraling maze of stairs in the faint yellow light of a place long forgotten. In a sort of blissful trance, I continued my journey to the top level.

I wandered around and sat in the deserted seats of the top floor. The yellow lights of the stairwell had gone out and I once again sat and basked in the darkness of freedom. Not a bad darkness, but the peaceful kind that surrounds you as you drift off to sleep.

Through my time here, I felt a certain peace, until I noticed what was really the top floor. Where I stood was not actually the top floor, and I shone my light around and saw what appeared to be the maintenance level. With no clear entrance and a great desire to reach the top, I decided I had to climb.

This was my room, and no distance will keep me from standing on top of my kingdom. I wouldn’t settle for being almost at the top of the room. I had to be at the very top.

I threw my bag up and it landed in the dark level with a thud. The maintenance level stood above me, and I stood there looking at it like a climber about to ascend a mountain. I clenched my fists and got as much of a running start as I could, and when I got to the wall, I threw myself upwards, and landed back on the ground with a crash.

I yelled in frustration as I stared up at the tower of a wall. I closed my eyes. Took a heavy breath. You’ve got this. This is your world.

Then once more, I got a running start and flew into the air, sweaty hands gripping the cold railings as I pulled myself up onto the maintenance level. Finally!! This room is my world, and nobody can disturb me!!

Filled with satisfaction, I sat on top of my throne and looked down at the dark room. I closed my eyes and grinned to myself, because for the first time in my life, I was free. I shook myself off, as if I was shrugging off the chains that once held me down. But not anymore.

Nothing could stop me in my room of freedom.