The place is so much bigger than I imagined it with so many new people. And they all look as lost as me, like sheep awaiting the guidance of their shepherd.
I wake up.
Submerged in an ocean of darkness, my hands frantically thrash around, trying to grasp anything, trying to ensure that I′m not slowly drowning in this murk. Is this a dream? A nightmare? Or is it reality? I hear sounds, voices perhaps, and the faint whispers of “SO” and “FI”. In my mind, dark shapes bounce about, but the darkness obscures all but their crooked outlines. Finally, my hand lands upon cold stone, my feet plant themselves on solid ground. I′m not drowning in a sea of uncertainty anymore.
A tiny light playfully dances at the outer edge of the blackness. It is beckoning for me to follow. Do I dare venture forward? To leave the comfort of the dark, the only thing I seem to know? No, I can′t let my bravery falter here. How will I ever move forward if I′m too scared to take the next step? And so, with regret, fear, anxiety, curiosity, excitement, nervousness, and hope, I leave the obscurity of uncertainty and wander into the unknown.
I′m here, finally. It′s all new and…terrifying. Will I be happy here? Or all alone again? What will this year bring me?
I bask in the glory of luminosity as the new realm I enter light up with the flight of ten thousand fireflies. A forest, dense with vegetation and enormous trees towering towards the canvas of night, a million twinkling stars painted upon its dark background. Flowers of every color imaginable overrun the many forest paths, in complete bloom, smelling of foreignism and adventure. There was a multitude of dirt paths, but all overspread with roots and blooms. Every road looked less traveled. Meaning, no road would be easy, but the sights they contained, would probably be irreplaceable.
A dark cave is where I emerge from, my hand reluctant in letting entirely go of the stone entrance, letting go of the last comfort I know. If I do, I will be fully embraced by the unknown. But was that a bad thing? I could always go back, couldn′t I? I feel my heart race at the prospect of not knowing what′s to come, where to go, the lack of direction. But how would I move forward if I′m afraid of taking the next step?
I finally let go.
Breath. Just breath. I′ll be okay. I′ll be okay. I′ll be okay…
With every step, I′m sure I hear a new sound from the creatures of the forest. I have yet to see them, but I hear strange calls, shouts without comprehensible words. My heart skips a beat every time, with the fear that it might be targeted at me, but that is yet to be proven true. I had willingly walked into this peculiar place; I couldn′t let my bravery waver at every turn to encounter new experiences.
I navigate one of the many overgrown paths, how I picked this one I couldn′t possibly fathom. The mysterious power of Fate′s hand wasn′t for mortals to comprehend. It leads me down towards a humongous lake. I can touch the clear night sky, which is so perfectly encapsulated in the water′s reflection. With a single touch, I send a shockwave, sending the stars into a tumbling dance with each new ripple. It′s was a breathtaking sight to behold. As I rip my eyes from the water, I look up to find a plethora of flowers and creatures has gathered around, some beholding the sight of the rippling night sky, others there to quench their thirst. Some shapes and forms I can recall from my time in the cave, and as I meet their gaze, they seem to…recall me? A creature approaches me slowly but just as it′s about to make contact, it bounces away, as if fear had gripped its mind. Confusion settles in me, as well as disappointment. Was I that unliked, even by these strange, fantastical creatures? But the source of the creature′s horror originated not from me, but an imposing shadow hanging above me. I would think myself frightened by it, yet, terror did not take root. I…I knew this shadow; it had followed me from the cave. What was its purpose, and from where did it come? And most importantly, why couldn′t I escape it?
I should go tonight, meet the others. But…they probably don′t want to see me. They all looked at me…like I was weird. Am I?
I continue my path, the creatures hopping and skipping around me, yet never dare to approach me. Every time they come close the shadow appears and vanishes. I′ve tried confronting it, but all is for naught. It whispers horrid words, conjures vivid illusions, and reminds me of how I walk this path alone.
“It′s not my fault, it′s yours!” I try flinging back, but my words are like wooden daggers against metal armor, the shadow doesn′t even flinch. Instead, its malicious grin widens.
I′m starting to miss my cave, miss my obliviousness. At least, in the comforting embrace of dark I wasn′t prompted this agony.
But the nymphs of the forest murmurs of a Mother of Life, dwelling deeper within the forest. They speak of her as the Mother of all, the rivers, the sky, the land. She may take many forms, but there′s not a single question she cannot answer regardless. And so, I have a purpose, not just sightseeing this remarkable world. For as wonderful as it is, the pain of traversing it alone was enough to outweigh my desire for further exploration. I wanted to be like the other creatures, to find my place in the forest. But to find my place, wouldn′t I have to find the bravery to take the next step?
I don′t want to worry her, she doesn′t need to worry for me. I′ll get to know someone soon. I hope.
Time is a construct this world seems to not abide by. A constant night sky hangs above me, the stars shimmering in their bright glory. I continue on the path I know is destined to lead me to the Mother of Life. According to the nymphs, when you need her the most, she will appear to you, just call upon her. I find it ridiculous to imagine the Mother of all life granting me her presence just by calling her, and instead, I journey on, hoping she will appear in my time of need. I do not know how much time passes, but it feels like an eternity. I feel my spirit weakening, and my longing for the comfort of my cave strengthening. The shadow continues to torment me:
“We can go back again. I′ll show you the way. It′s closer than you think,” it lures me.
I am on the verge to cave in, but just as my spirit is faltering, the Mother of Life appears to me. Like a goddess, she surfaces from a newly erupted spring, her golden weave spreading like golden roots all around, wrapping me in its silky comfort and lighting up the entire area. The shadow vanishes in an instant.
“Mine child, are thou in good health?” her soft lips sing, like a lullaby of comfort.
I feel tears trickling down my chin. How I have longed for this warmth, this solace.
“Mine child, are thou haunted by a spirit of malice?”
I nod, tears dripping into her golden braids.
“Mine child, looking within thyself, therein lies the answer to thy suffering.”
I′m bewildered. The shadow is the cause of my suffering, why couldn′t the Mother help rid me of the monster?
“Mine child, I canst not help thou, thou might not but walk thy own path.”
I see her golden locks disappearing, vanishing into nothingness.
“No, Mother, don′t leave me!”
“Mine child, thou might not but walk thy own path. Look within thyself.”
And with her last words echoing in the now empty clearing, I found myself even more choked by the arms of despair. The shadow′s return sends me plummeting deeper into that very pit. But I must continue, solve the riddle of the Mother. Because how can I move forward if I cannot find the strength to take the next step?
Everyone thinks it′s so easy. It′s not! Why is it so hard!? Why is nothing different!? All I want…are just some-
“Look within thyself. Look within thyself.”
The Mother′s parting words ring in my head but sense I cannot make of them. I′ve come to another clearing, a gorgeous, open field, formed like a circle. In the middle stands a statue of the Mother, which holds a shattered crystal ball. I look into it and gazing back are hundreds of reflections of me. All broken, and almost unrecognizable. However, what is not broken is the shadow standing behind the hundreds of me, its grin inducing both anger and frustration. It had been brimming, but now, it′s boiling. I turn around, the crystal ball in my hand, and with all my might I throw it at the shadow. The ball shoots into the shadow, flying straight through it and shatters into a million pieces behind it. The shadow divides itself into every broken piece, and so becomes an army of several hundred shadows in varying sizes.
“Stop doing this to me!” I shout at the top of my lungs.
I can′t take this anymore!
“You don′t deserve ANYTHING! You′re pathetic, worthless, NOTHING! Nobody liked you then, nobody likes you now,” it rasps.
I try to find more objects to fight the insults its throwing at me by throwing something back, but nothing′s there. The creatures around me start to lose their colors and appearance, they′re becoming intangible shapes just like in the cave. Slowly melting into a mass, resembling that of the comfortable darkness I was cuddled by before.
Nothing′s changed. Nothing′s changed at all. I′m not okay…
The shadow slithers closer.
“Let′s go back, back to the cave where we belong,” it hisses.
Maybe…maybe that was for the best…
Why do I try…I don′t deserve friends. I…I deserve…to be alone. I′m pathetic…
The shadow becomes one with the murk, a big, black goop slowly swallowing me back into the prison I belong in. I was never destined for this world, was I? It was nothing but the dream of a nobody. I′m ready…to go home.
Back to being alone…
The black goop forms a mouth, ready to devour me.
But then, a flicker. Of light…of hope?
Behind the black muck, a creature has yet to be captured by the black corruption. It reaches its arm for me.
“Hey, wanna come along with us? We were gonna gather some folks to go down to the cafeteria, and it looked like you could use a good lunch after the last lecture?”
“N-no, no need.”
The black mass turns back into the frightening shadow, determined to deter any creature from befriending me. But…it was if the creature didn′t see the shadow. Or perhaps, it ignored it? Its hand goes through the shadow′s torso, still reaching for me…
“Are you sure?”
“A-are you d-deaf!? Yes I′m sure!”
The shadows quadruples in size. It…cannot be stopped. I cannot fight it, I never could. But the creature′s hand, it doesn′t stop reaching for me…
“And I′m not blind either, you′re eyeing that guy′s sandwich as if you haven′t seen food in ages. If you don′t have the money don′t worry, Mark is bragging about his dad′s fortune, he can easily pay for you, or else I′ll blackmail him to.”
“Come on, I want you with us, it′s much more fun than sitting alone. But you have to give me a bone as well.”
H-how could I escape this darkness, this pit of despair.
If I′m too scared to take the next step?
“Fantastic! Glad to have you onboard…uhm, I actually never caught your name! Embarrassing, anyways, I′m Daniel.”
“Sophie, it′s a pleasure to meet you!”
I finally reach my own hand out, and the creature lifts me to my feet in one, clean swoop. I look around, and it′s like the shadow never existed. The forest was back to normal, the creature prancing about. Even the crystal ball is in its rightful place. It still has a few cracks, but somehow, it seems less broken. I look back into it and gasp, as without the shadow, I′m finally able to see myself.
I was just like every other creature here. Without the shadow looming over me, I was finally able to see what it had denied me for years. Meaning, that just like every other creature in the forest, I had a place in this world. And I′m not alone.
I′m able to move forward…
…Because I have the bravery to take the next step
Skrevet av: Tobias Klausen