THE SIXTH DAY

That Sunday they set ablaze the remnants of our camps, and loaded us up back into containers. All night the cries of women and children sounded, and the stench of bodily odors permeated the air. It was a cool night, and yet the sweat and tears that created a thing film of tackiness clung to our bodies. Still, it was a sort of reprieve; the two newborns that had been captured along with their mothers in the invasion did not shriek as hard as they did during the day. In the morning, however, the heat of the New Mexican sun exercised its ruthlessness. To make matters worse, the containers they held us in, fitted only with a single slit stretching horizontally along the container was our only window into the outside world when we traveled, as well as our only air source to cool us down. Packed with fifty to sixty per container in a container no bigger than school bus meant that we were already susceptible to overheating. The cruel sun only made things more unbearable. As I watched our camp become a fiery speck along the line of the desert, I thought of how on Sundays my mother and father would dress up a little tidier than usual, and ask me to wear a button up and some jeans. I’d come down the stairs, tired from being out with friends the night before and my mother would reprimand me for not combing my hair back. My father would grumble about something and we’d all hop in the car for church. I remembered how the preacher admonished about longing for sin after we’d come to God, and how Lot, stalwart and obedient, left his burning city behind with the faith God would lead him and his family towards something greater. But Lot’s wife, wistful and nostalgic, looked back at the burning city for one last final goodbye and was turned to a pillar of salt. Then the preacher would say something about the lustful nature of sin, and how we must stay faithful to God. My mother would amen, folding her hands and closing her eyes tightly as if she closed them tight enough God would see her faithfulness. I went along staring at that burning speck that was Los Lunas, leaving farther my own city, and waiting for the moment I too would turn into a pillar of salt. That night, they unloaded us again, one-by-one, into an open dirt clearing. A man behind me pushed through the line and sprinted out into the clearing. The day had exhausted him however, and he didn’t make it 200 feet before one of our captors seized him up and impaled him with its long, razor sharp arm. Our captors clicked in amusement and approval and continued the process of examining us one-by-one before pushing us towards the clearing to wait. Our captors were thick as the trees: it seemed as though they stood like monsters from a fairy tale book, and yet here they were, as palpable as the situation we were currently in.

Invaders. Invaders who had, up until a week prior had not even been within our line of sight. Invaders who had been lurking in the immensity of the black, waiting for the moment to strike us. I recalled the night they came: how my mother clutched her cross pendant and prayed zealously under her breath. How four days later she was still chanting prayers, hoping the words would ward them off, even as one pierced his arm through her breast. I gazed around at my fellow captives, wondering who amongst the bunch was still a fervent Christian soul. The emptiness in their eyes, the same emptiness that was mirrored in my own, revealed the truth.

 

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I choose to write my parody of Mary Rowlandson’s The History of the Captivity. I thought it might be interesting to do a parody written in sci-fi to highlight the foreign nature of Rowlandson’s captivity narrative. Since the Indians are a group of people that she has never experienced before, and their ways are foreign to her, I thought the way to best replicate this was to have my narrator also be seized by captors he was completely unfamiliar with as well. The concept for the most part is identical: both narrators are captured and use religion to navigate that captivity, and the continuum that the plot follows is admittedly the same. However, the details within the narrative are different. For example, it’s alien not Indians that attack; it’s a hot morning, not a cold one; my narrator is a boy, Rowlandson is a woman; my narrator is a Christian who has given up on God, Rowlandson is fervently Christian. These differences I believe, while subtle, change the tone of the story significantly. The sixth remove of Rowlandson’s captivity narrative, re-imagined through my creative project, ceases to be a story of hope and instead becomes a story of despair. I think this creative project aided me in significantly re-imagining the same experiences Rowlandson might have had but in the modern world. By creating a world that parodied that of Rowlandson’s by bringing it into 2017, where the threat of invasion is plausible of occurring, I was able to recreate some of the same feelings, while also manipulating my audience through a religious lens, as Rowlandson did. Overall, I believe that I learned a great deal about parodying others’ works. In addition to that, I got to exercise my creative gears, which we often don’t get to do in English class!

 

-Sara Nuila-Chae

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3 thoughts on “THE SIXTH DAY

  1. I found it really interesting that you used the term “aliens” and actually time fitting, as we all know that specific immigrants are referred to as that. It works perfectly because just as Rowlandson thought the Indians as barbaric, many Americans too use the term “alien” in the same fashion, both terms being dehumanizing. Though I know you meant literal aliens, it still works quite well to bring up a valid point about perception and rhetoric.

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