Howling, screeching, scratching drown out the thumps of a heart locked away behind a heaving chest. Drops of light slide down from her bare toes to the forest floor, illuminating broken leaves, dirt, bugs. She smudges the light on the soles of her feet, lets blackness take over her eyes instead. This comforts her. If she can’t see the monsters chasing her, maybe they don’t exist. Maybe the forest doesn’t exist. Maybe she’s just pretending to walk across a forest in the middle of the night, because she’s bored. Maybe she’s just hearing a story about a girl walking across a forest in the middle of the night. Maybe it’s just a dream.
She stays inside her darkness bubble as long as she can to keep safe. She journeys deeper into the forest that is no longer a forest but everywhere warmer, intimately familiar. The night gives way to each place she puts into the bubble, rolling grass blurring with white sand, carpet, rose-colored light, no light at all, the same soft fingers entwined with hers.
You’re okay. I’m here. Those familiar fingers brush through her hair, that beautiful voice slows her rush of breath.
What a feat to contain an entire love in one bubble, to capture its electric but subdued nature. Electric when their limbs tangle then squeeze she remembers that blood is pumping through her every second – she’s alive. More even, it’s subdued as closing her eyes. Letting her drift in a wordless space
only to be roused by a gentle whisper. Tie a red string between our fingers let me share my fate with your fate.
So she does. She loops the string around her finger.
She holds onto the moment with every piece of her concentration, wanting to stay there lucid. She stands still, creeps around the edges of her consciousness so that it won’t remember that nothing in her bubble really exists; everything outside of it does. Monsters continue to follow her completely-grounded-in-reality scent even if she denies them. The forest is still a forest, no matter what she names it, puts in it. The rattling branches, sticky mud lie under her feet no matter what she retreats to. She can run, hide, coil from, tuck away her fear of the world, her unpreparedness. Her head’s a safe place, a disconnected from the world place.
But, what’s that solving? Is she not grounded in a reality she can never escape from, every moment dragging her with it? Whether she believes the trees to be trees or their branches to be a tender human touch or
The imaginary won’t help her when she’s bleeding on the forest floor, limbs trapped in the jaws of her ignored monsters. The unreal can’t shield from the real.
What an epiphany.
Her consciousness flings her out of the bubble, shredding her apparitions, destroying them. The damage is done now. She’s made her choice (had she wanted it? the truth? was that what she came here for?) The girl she loves turns to mere wisps, falls away in her hands. Gone.
In her stomach is a hollow emptiness that settles on then crushes her diaphragm. This reality she had been avoiding but found anyway in a fleeting moment of existentialism. What a foolish mistake.
Ignorance won’t welcome her back now. She’s forsaken it. Be alone then! Alone with five hundred beasts stampeding with pieces of the bubble staining their teeth.
She has no time to run. They trample her, pin her to the floor, let the forest bugs crawl through her hair. She becomes a part of the forest indistinguishable from any other, howling, screeching, scratching while they rip through her, separate her into pieces.
Had she really expected a humble, darkness bubble to save her from the world?
No, this was just for a brief happiness.