The Girl Who Has Never Seen The Sky By Akemi Sawada

The Girl Who Has Never Seen The Sky

  • Creativity and Originality
  • Writing Style and Language
  • Plot and Structure
  • Character Development
  • Readers Appreciation
3.6/5Overall Score


Penelope, a girl with extraordinary powers, awakens in a sterile facility, memories fragmented except for a cherished birthday party. Amid pain and experiments, she clings to thoughts of family. In a cycle of suffering, Penelope's memories become her lifeline, a glimmer of hope in a world of mystery and torment.


The handcuffs are too big for me.

I could get my little hands out of them if I wanted. I could escape from this wretched place that reeks of rotten flesh and famished rats, feeding on the dead bodies.

But if I escaped, if I left everything behind and never looked back, I’m afraid the view in front of me will be much worse. I have nowhere to go, my world begins and ends in these walls, and I know nothing of the lands beyond this facility.

My bare feet touch the cold floor, and I’m not allowed to walk to the center of the room on my own: I’m shoved inside by strong hands, warmer than anything i’ve experienced so far, the sudden and temporary heat sending a wave of pleasure down my spine, and I can’t help but cherish the feeling, memorizing it for the sake of darker times.

I hear a violent thud as the metallic door slams shut, leaving me alone with a shivering body and a lost mind.

Up till now, I’ve been living in a different cell , but today they decided to move me to this one. I didn’t bother to ask. We are not allowed to ask questions.

We expect absolute obedience and nothing more. This seemed to be the one and only rule in this place.

I look around me. The room looks the same as the previous one. Orange walls, a white bed with white warm sheets on the right, a small wooden door on the left, the same size as one of a cupboard. Don’t worry, it is not a coffin, just a tiny bathroom which you have to clean by yourself every so often if you don’t want to get an infection.

I am wearing nothing but a long-sleeved orange dress. My teeth start to chatter and my feet start to turn blue, the color intensifying with every beat of my oral music. I decide to do what I’ve always did: lie under the covers and wait for my lunch, not doing a thing. It is the best way to combat the cold.

I tuck my head under the white thick blanket and enjoy the little warmth it provides in the middle of a place where ice-cold hearts rule and fire is consumed by cruelty. I close my eyes and start my everyday routine: trying to remember my past.

I’m ten years old, or so they told me. All what I’ve managed to dig from my memory up till now are blurry images of happy times, where my mother sings me a happy birthday song and my father films me with his tiny old camera. I don’t even remember their faces, I only recall the lingering happiness that warms my heart every time I picture the moment in my mind. The rest of my memories are drowned in the screams of my parents as I’m taken away from them, my mother’s face, contorted with a mix of rage and terror as she cries for them to let me go, for I haven’t done a thing to deserve this. Strangely enough, my memories seem more vivid than my present. Maybe I wore glasses in the past or something.

I’ve lost count of how long I’ve been here. However, the first weeks were pure agony. They would wait until dawn , or night , I shall never know, then drag me outside of my cell and teach me lessons. Well, it’s more like one single lesson where one single question is answered: how does real pain feel like? Thanks to them, I could not only know the answer, but also guess it myself. I screamed until my voice silenced me, I screamed until all the air that helped me live ran out of my frail body, I screamed until the pain became less like a suffering and more like a habit. I tried to drown my mind in my screams, focus on the ups and downs of my voice not to succumb to madness, not to let myself lose the only thing that they left me: my soul. But

whatever I did, I could never get used to it. My life ended when I woke up and began when I slept. My dreams became my paradise, a place where I’m back to my old home with both my parents holding me tight in their arms, protecting me from these people and from the rest of the world.

They told me there were others, others like me, others who were tortured every single day until their minds broke as much as their bodies, and that everything was necessary, everything was for the greater good. What kind of good takes children from their parents and makes them suffer to death? What kind of twisted reality is this?

Eventually, the torture ceased, and I could see their disappointed faces from a mile away. Whatever they did to the others, it did not affect me. Ever since then, they kept me in my cell, feeding me breakfast, lunch and dinner and leaving me to my business. For a long time, I thought they would get me back to my parents, because I was useless to them. Then, I thought they would dispose of me, because I was useless. When I finally seemed to give up on conspiring, they brought me here.

Now I wait for my destiny to unravel before me.

The white sheets are not enough to warm me , so I lift my knees higher so that my dress covers me to my feet. I blow hot air in the palms of my hands then touch my toes, trying to warm them. Between blows, I hum a birthday song to myself in order to forget the cold that’s conquering my limbs and the loneliness that’s eating away at my heart and the misery they’re —


I stiffen. The sound is so low that I think I’ve lost my mind at first, imagining things out of the blue. I lapse into silence as I wait eagerly for another sign, anything that proves it wasn’t all in my head.

Minutes pass, and I’m about to give up when I hear it, a question that I’m able to answer , a question that will change my life from bad to tolerable.

Is anybody there? Is someone singing, out there?

This time, it’s louder, which makes me think the previous hello was a mere whisper. I get up so suddenly my blanket plummets to the ground, and I speak through the wall: “I’m here! Who is it? Who are you?”

Tina! My name is Tina! Are you a prisoner too?

Oh my, she exists!

“Yes! My name is Penelope! Penny, like the money!”

She laughs next, and a thought crosses my mind: it’s the first time I hear a laughter since the day I was brought here.

How old are you, Penny?

“Ten, I think…” , I whisper. She doesn’t hear me, because she calls my name again and again. This time, I scream the number right through the wall, and she flinches, at least that’s what I imagine her doing at this moment.

So young! I’m fourteen. Do you know why they brought us here?

I shake my head miserably,then I remember she can’t see me, so I shout a joyless no at the wall.

Were you in the cell next to mine all along? It’s the first time I hear you.

“They brought me here today”

Oh… It’s a good thing, right? Maybe they thought we were both lonely, so they made us neighbours…

The decrescendo of her voice told me she was quite willing to finish her sentence but decided against it. We both knew how it would end. The only other possible reason behind them moving me to another cell is they’re planning something for me, something that did not include returning me to my family.

A silence follows as we are both cast back into our grim reality. This is not in my favor, I need to keep her talking. I finally got the chance to talk to someone, I need not blow this chance away. “Hey, Tina” , I start. “Do you remember bits of your past?”

There is a long pause, during which I think she moved away from our common wall, but then, she speaks to me in an unsure, improvised kind of way, as though she is wracking her brain to recall a few memories and talking to me simultaneously.

No, I….don’t, I….tried to, but I couldn’t. How about you?

How about me? Do I remember or do I not? Does recalling a birthday party and nothing more count as remembering ?

“No, I’m as hopeless as yourself..” I finally say.

Suddenly, I hear her gasp, so I pluck my left ear hard against the wall to hear whatever happened or is happening there.

Penelope, did they hurt you…the way they did to me? , she asked.

So that’s the question that struck her, demanding to be asked.

“Of course” , I reply in an exasperated voice. “They’ve done it to all of us, but I’ve never even met the others. You’re the first.”

I can almost hear the screws in her mind turning violently in opposite directions, up and down, left and right, weighing the odds and thinking about this new bizarre situation.

There are others? , she asks for confirmation. I nod, then I remember I’ve done it again, so I shake my head violently to erase the gesture, which makes it worse. Before I can answer her with a proper ‘yes’ , Tina rushes more questions at me.

So It wasn’t just my brain playing tricks on me…What can you do, then? Do you think we can contact the others and escape from here together? Do you think we can beat them? But you’re going to have to tell me about your ability! Together, we might —

“Stop” , I interrupt her, putting a hand on the wall as if it can transpierce it and get to her. “I can’t do any of this with you, simply because I don’t want to get killed, and the fact that I don’t have an ability makes it worse.”


“I don’t.” , I sigh.

But….it can’t be! You’re too smart for a ten-year-old! They’re usually so unwise, so dependant, so…weak! No offense.

I grimace. What is that supposed to mean? I decide to ignore her statement and ask a more important question.

“What can you do?”

There is a long pause, and I wonder whether I can allow myself to believe what she’s about to tell me or not. Why would she lie? I try to think about possible reasons, however nothing comes to my mind.

I can fly , she finally says.

I am speechless. If she could fly, why didn’t she simply escape from here?

I can’t go anywhere, she says, as though she’s responding to my thoughts. I’ve tried, it wasn’t….a pleasant experience. Now they only let me out in their corridors once a week, and I’m not allowed to enter any room.

I have a feeling she’s already tried to explore the experimentation rooms, but when they caught her, they made her go through hell.


I pierce my lips, all hope drained out of my system, again. The conversation seems to come to an end, so I go back under my sheets and keep on what I’ve been doing for my whole life, in a room filled with the agonizing silence that keeps the atrocities they’re doing outside at bay...for the moment, I remind myself. A wave of dread washes over me. It is truly terrifying not to know your fate, and knowing it is even worse.

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