I was lost… lost in the dark eerie forest. This was not your ordinary forest with cute rabbits, deer families, and an orchestra of bird chirping and rustling of leaves. This was the kind of forest you never, ever want to be lost in. And though it may seem extremely wise to not venture into it, I did not have a choice.
On the other side of the forest was a town with fresh fruits and meat. In order to have food on my table, I had to go through the forest to buy some. Everyday, I and a few others would follow a small path that ran in between tall trees with roots that were waiting to trip passersby. Along our journey, we would hear strange howls and loud growls, but as long as we followed the path we were safe.
Unfortunately for me that day, I was held up at town. There was a minor dispute and the few that came with me left without me. I was not going to ask them to stay, because nighttime in the forest was the worst. So, I sent them on their way.
After the little problem was settled, I contemplated on going home. It was a wiser idea to stay in an inn for the night and head back home the next day, but the thought of my hungry pregnant wife and son made me choose the riskier choice.
As I slung the little knapsack over my shoulder, I tightened my grip on my torch and started my journey. The forest was scarily quiet at night, as there were no chirping of crickets and hooting of owls. There was also no wind, and everything stood silently still. The only sound that I could hear was my footsteps and my breathing.
Nightime in the forest was like a walk in a dark room. The trees blocked out the moon and the torch was all the light I had. On several occasions, I caught a pair of eyes watching me. But when I waved my torch in their direction, they disappeared.
It did not take me long to conclude that the fire was protecting me. It also did not take me long to realize that I was lost. I had been walking for hours and I had not even seen a glimpse of my little village.
At that hour of revelation, I had no problem accepting the facts. Being lost was a definite fact, but being alive when morning came was not yet determined. I knew I had to try and survive the night for another shot of returning home.
Since there was no use walking, I stopped by a tree and tried to build a fire. The fire on my torch was not going to last much longer, and I needed it to keep me safe. Gathering as much dry leaves and sticks around me, I wasted no time in making a bonfire that lit up enough of my surroundings.
When the light spread out and the fire on my torch died away, I noticed dozens of eyes disappearing into the darkness. Were they watching me or was that just my imagination? I couldn’t tell the difference, all I could do was sit as close to the fire as possible and pray that day would soon arrive.
Despite being so tired, I kept my eyes open and watched the flames flicker. The fire was getting smaller as the minutes ticked by, but there was nothing I could do about it. As the eyes began returning, I knew my fight for a different fate was a losing battle.
When the fire finally sizzled out, I hugged my legs and buried my head between my arms. I could hear them walking towards me, their footsteps light but their breath heavy. Death was so close, and I lost all power to run. My legs, arms, and head were all locked in position, leaving my back exposed to the creature that was now behind me.
It bended towards me and I felt its warm breath against my neck. The hairs on my arms shot up immediately as I felt the creature trace its sharp finger down my spine. A few seconds later, I felt a sharp pain as the creature clawed across my back. My lips felt too numb to even utter a cry.
I could feel my blood soaking into my shirt, and yet I made no move. I shut my eyes tighter and when I felt too tired to anticipate my death, I slipped into a dreamless state.
When my eyes finally opened, I did not know where I was. The sun was up and I was sitting in front of a pile of ashes. It actually took me a while to realize I was not dead and that I was still in the forest. I also saw the path leading home a few feet away and I could not believe I was so close. Though, it was much harder believing I was still alive.
As I got on my feet, the searing pain in my back sent me on my knees. My hand trembled as I reached to my back to feel what I could not see. The shirt I wore was soaked in dark red, and the flesh on my back was caked with blood. I was glad I did not bleed out, but the clogging of my blood for such deep wounds terrified me.
The memories of the night before immediately came flooding back, and everything that happened imprinted something in me. It was as though the three gashes on my back was a mark… a mark of something I did not know or could ever imagine.
If only I kept the fire burning, if only I made my bonfire bigger, if only I persevered long enough I could have reached home with my torch still ablaze.
Now… there is nothing I can do. Something feels missing, something feels wrong, and I will never be able to place a finger on it.
What does this story relate to besides scary monsters in the dark? Take a guess!
I know this is strange, but when I was writing this story I had one word in mind…. passion.
We all have a passion, whether it is reading, dancing, hiking, running, gaming, etc. Our passion is our escape, our painkiller, and most definitely our entertainment. Some of us have a bigger passion and some more extravagant, but to each of us they are important.
However, a time will come when we enter the forest of work, family, loans and responsibilities, and our passion is slowly sidelined. When we realize that we are losing our passion, we try to rekindle it with a bonfire, but ultimately it fades off. Reality then creeps up behind us and marks us as a passionless soul, sometimes wondering what are we doing with life.
If only we kept the fire burning, if only we protected our passion by investing more time into it, if only we held on long enough instead of just giving it up because ‘there were more important things to do’. If only…
Fortunately for us, we can still get it back! We just need to find the passion we lost and light a new torch 🙂
Anyways, leave a comment below and let me know what you think! This story is a another strange metaphor, but I hope it communicated well enough 🙂
© 2013 Jeyna Grace
(For more short stories, click HERE)