May 15, Purgatory (Lost at the Protest) – Short Story by Elene Beridze

I was sitting in the middle of the church garden. The sky was pitch black. All I could head was people cursing and screaming at each other, fighting their way through the police. The church was surrounded.

I was sitting in between two protests, one filled with the youth fighting for human rights, the other one opposing them. My family was waiting for me outside of this chaos, worried out of their minds. The police wouldn’t let me in or out.

So I was sitting in the garden. My phone ringing every two minutes, people calling me to make sure I was okay. They kept telling me to ask the police to let me out so I could go home. I told them they were keeping me inside for my own safety.

I was in purgatory. Neither here nor there. I was basically nowhere. In this utterly calm church garden, with two or three people besides me. I could see rows of police officers standing at every entrance. And even though I knew I was safe, even though this church garden was filled with silence and hope, I felt unnerved. I couldn’t stay in one place, I kept walking back and forth, talking to the police, telling my friends and family I was okay.

I sat down and lit up a cigarette. My phone kept ringing non stop, so I turned it off. I was sitting on the stairs of the church, and it got me thinking.

Maybe this is what purgatory is. Being in the middle of two completely different worlds, safe, in silence, being tortured by your own feeling of unsettlement. Nothing is after you, no one is harming you.

You’re just waiting. And waiting. And that’s what’s driving you crazy. Neither here or there, you know you don’t belong where you are. I wanted to go back to the youth protest to stand by their side, but the police wouldn’t let me back in. I tried to go outside but the crowd of people outside fighting against the protest scared me even more, and the police told me to stay in the garden.

So I kept waiting for everything to calm down. I saw nuns, I saw priests, I saw mothers screaming in their phones telling their children to come home. I kept smoking and thinking.

How ironic is it that I am in purgatory in church….

Special thanks to King.Kote for the picture.

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