Dawn woke up to a hot cup of tea, an English muffin buttered and topped with strawberry jam, and a sharpened sword laying on the table in front of her. She picked up the cup of tea and discovered a note underneath it.
I’m already gone, but you know this. Remember, accept what is true, reject what is not, and change what needs to be changed. Follow the trail to the West to get home. Oh, and please get a haircut!
She smirked to herself. Dad liked her to keep her hair short. She pulled on the locks, realizing how wildly curly they had become. She sat back, sipping on her tea and smiled. After she finished up her breakfast, she took a final look around the little cabin. She found a pack by the door, already prepped for her journey on back to reality.
She knew she had some fights ahead of her. She sheathed her sword, placing it within reach and her pack together on her back and stepped out of the cabin. The sun was rising in the distance.
She spotted the trail and headed West, with the sun at her back. The forest thickened with only thin streams of light piercing through the canopy. A mist swirled around Dawn’s feet as she continued walking. Birds chirped in the morning light as it grew in the sky, and the mist began to give way. Dawn appreciated the morning quiet as she walked along the trail.
By late morning however, the sky began to turn dark and the mist came back. Vines creeped across the trail, tripping her stride. The birds grew quiet as the winds picked up and started to howl. She prepared however for what would come next. She just needed to make it home.
The trail narrowed and the tree limbs began to pull at her arms and pants. She freed herself from them with a swift blow from her sword. At least these were just tree limbs, not the harrowing screams she endured before.
She heard a rustle in the trees and looked about. She felt eyes on her, watching her as she walked on. Do you know what you are doing girl? her mind seemed to start questioning her. The hairs on her neck stood up, knowing something was coming.
She heard a small voice. No child should be out here. She looked to her left and saw a small boy. She kneeled down and he reached out his hand. But when she went to take it, he faded away as if he were a ghost. She stood up and shook with shivers from the sudden cold. She heard what sounded like a laugh come from behind her. Unworthy. She looked around and saw nothing.
She continued pushing forward, hoping the pathway would lead her home soon. A twig slapped her in the face as she heard a chuckle from the tree above. She looked up, holding her left cheek, a tender spot from where her mother had slapped her a long time ago throbbed. Not my daughter. Whispers from the trees grew. Her hold tightened around the grip of her sword.
She kept moving forward. As the trail narrowed, she struggled to move on forward in the path. If you were fit, you’d fit in better. She lifted her sword and hacked away at the growing branches forming in front of her, blocking her way.
The voices continued to grow as she continued to push forward until she could no longer move. The thoughts started to push her harder, weighing her down as she approached the end of the trail. She forced her sword into the ground as a stake to keep from falling into the mud again. She knew she just needed to clear her mind and these traps would move aside.
A solitary tear rolled from her eye and fell onto the pommel stone. It started to glow and shot out a bright light against the vines and branches which surrounded her. You have this. You can get through this. We believe in you. You need to believe in you.
She looked about. Three silhouettes of light surrounded her, two placing a hand on her, one on each shoulder and the third kissing her forehead. Stand up, push through. Accept, reject, change.
She pushed herself back up and lifted her sword and sheathed it. She realized she didn’t need a weapon, or anything but herself in those brief moments. The silhouettes faded from her view. She reached out her hands and pushed her way through the vines as they began to wither, and found a glass wall in front of her. She began to run forward towards it and crashed through the glass.
She opened her eyes, laying on the tile floor. She looked back at the pane, and it was whole, not shattered. She pushed herself up to a sitting stance. Her face was streaked with tears, but she was okay. She looked at her scratched up arms, but the scratches quickly disappeared. She found her way to stand up and turned to the sink. A few leaves were still in her hair, but she smiled at her reflection. Dad was right, I need a haircut. She moved forward with a better perspective.
Thank you for reading this short story. If you struggle with depression, anxiety or other mental illness, please seek out assistance. Many resources are available, from your primary care provider to psychiatrists to counseling services. Reaching out helps; it really does.