Prose by Amanda Perry (North Hartland, VT)

I walk through a darkened path only large enough for me to fit through. I move side to side, I feel the rough bark of the trees next to me. Turning my head toward the sky I see nothing but darkness. The trees are so dense and thick that I cannot see between them. I turn around but I find myself trapped only able to move forward or stand still. The feelings of dread, hopelessness and loss flood me, pushing me down, forcing me to stand still. I obey and do not fight the feelings within but move with them and do what they are telling me to do.

“Move,” I tell myself, and I step forward. Placing my foot down on the sharp stones, I pull back from the pain.

“Move faster,” I tell myself and push myself onto the sharp stones, forcing myself to endure the pain. Unable to see, my foot hits a root and I fall hard to the stone ground. Tears fill my eyes as I curl up on the ice cold ground looking for the comfort that I desperately need. My struggles start taking over and I just want to give up. A failure, unable to do anything to change what has happened and there is no hope of change. The words echo around me seeping between the trees keeping me down tight to the ground.

Arms sore and heavy I put my hands on the stone, get to my knees and with what little strength I have left I look back up at the sky. A warming sensation hits my face now. I am able to see the light breaking through the darkened canopy above. The echoes are silent once more. I reach up to the light and it wraps around my hand as though to aid me to get up. I stand strong, no longer allowing the cold ground to comfort me and hold me still. I stand strong with the light casting over me, ready for me to finish my journey. I run faster through the woods with more courage and strength in my step. Now I start feeling a rattle in the earth below, as the trees break apart creating more space between them as I run.

A strange noise sounds as I continue down the path. I stop and edge closer to the tree line. The sound gets louder and I peer through the trees for the first time. A beast from deep in the woods reaches out for me trying to pull me back into the darkness. I turn away and continue to run down my illuminated path, leaving behind the beast that would feed upon me and put me back down. Now I am able to let the emotions ride through me without judgment or fear. I run and stumble but never fall to the ground, continuing to yearn for the warming light. As the trees thin, the rough stone turns to soft grass.

I stop in a meadow that is surrounded by a circle of trees. I let my mind and body calm no struggles just lie in peace. Feel the warm sun against my cold body, the cool breeze brushing against my cheeks. Snuggle into the soft bristles of the grass beneath me as I lie, I stay here until I am faced with another challenge. My journey does not end here, for another path will come for which I have to travel. Each time I get stronger, each challenge I face with courage and always knowing that it may be hard to get through but peace will come again. The biggest challenge I will face is getting back up when I fall down and never letting the beast win.

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