She walked inside, smiling for the first time in a long time. She was the fearless youth, heroine of her own story. She had checked one of the many things off her real to do list. She was taking on what really counted.
She thought back to when she was a girl what her dreams had been. Her passion used to be writing, and her eyes now lit up as she realized the fragments of herself were hidden within her illegible handwriting. It had helped her then, it would help her now. Within minutes she was wrapped in a towel and pulling a dusty box from beneath her bed, and smiled to calm her hammering heart.
Cautiously she lifted its lid, because it nearly did contain a bomb. She stifled a gasp as the stack of old journals exploded a past she kept concealed. The flickering thought that this was a mistake edged into her mind, and she questioned her reasoning to open something that had long ago passed. The urge to cover her deeds overwhelmed her and she shunned her lack of strength as she lowered the lid hiding the truth. But she noticed the disappointment, and realised her journey wasn’t over. She wasn’t going to give up and forget she’d ever tried to remember the things she loved. No, she wasn't giving up; she was finding a new journal. Her childhood passion was writing, and before she broke into the free bands of youth, and had to remember what it felt like. She had to give to get.
She grabbed an empty journal from a drawer and a pen that ran with her thoughts, and waited for the honesty to flow out. She tapped her pen; anxious she wasn't as good as she used to be, and found herself asking, "What is the problem?" And then the answer began to materialize on paper.
Usually, when I pick up my pencil, I know exactly what to write. I know exactly what's going on in my head and I can pinpoint what's wrong and how to make it better. Now everything is wrong, I want to fix everything. I want a reliable version of me, and an amazing person to share it with, whose judgments won’t shape me into something else. I don't want to hold myself within my shy box.
The mask shielding me as protection is blocking me from Euphoria. But what am I protecting? What am I being shielding myself from? I’m tired of hiding from my passions. They say give it all or nothing, I think it’s time. But what if I fail? What if I can’t accept I am not at my expectation?
But not trying is failing. I will never achieve any goals if I don’t try. Postponed dreams are poison.
She didn't like running from pain, and there was so much it was overwhelming. She decided to conquer the first thing on her mind: Who was she now?
The answer came with sadness: she didn't know. There were so many things she wasn't. She thought about all her derailed dreams, and wondered who she was when she wished them, and what she was thinking when she desided they were petty and unimportant. She had been a series of different people in her life, and she now wanted to relive the experience, to find the events that created her current person. She realized it they key was in her past. All the different parts of her combined created the current total adding up to her in the present.
She held the answer in her hand, as she slowly flipped to an early page in the journal.
Journal on her lap, a comfort flowed as she tucked herself into the story from middle school.
The trees rained shadows as the light flickered through the branches in an old forest. Lisa called to me, beckoning for me to see the masterpiece of nature.
We trudged through golden fallen leaves, feet sinking into soft. She reached her hands down into the ground, and I expected her to find one that stood out to her in some exceptional way I had overlooked. Instead, she threw her hands up, and I was showered with remnants of fallen earth. I shrieked, laughing, and feeling the need to return the favor and more leaves were thrown. The forest must have felt its process had been put in rewind. We chased each other through the trees, flying as if there was no such thing as anything beyond the world we lived in now.
I looked to my side and saw dozens of branches, scattered along the forest’s floor. I ran to them, pulling them, and leaning them against each other. Lisa joined me, and our fort grew, aided by more and more to lean on. It was joyous to see the strength gaining as we bent the wood to our own uses and it obliged. Then the fort was complete, and we moved on to our next challenge. I discovered a sheltered place within the intertwining trees. We climbed into the mystery to find we’d dicovered a nest, sheltered by the cold but exposed to the world. We were safe. Between the tree branches we could see the city. The bittersweet beauty that existed because mankind had forced it to, but it wasn’t meant to be and nature was losing the battle to tear it down. Glittering lights and vehicles in motion replaced the sway of grasses and the pure greens from abundant masses of trees. Everyone was so busy with their own agenda they didn’t see the falling world around them.
But being positioned on our highly statured thrown, there was a sense of belonging. It was our job to save to the world. The victim always needed another advocate. Everyone was clueless, but we saw the signs, and it was our responsibly to the glittery moisture of the woods, to save it. The wild treated us like royalty, and we were obliged to do the same, not because we had to, but because it was a fulfilling quest that we wanted to embark on.
We climbed from our hiding spot from the terrors of society, and walked back out to the cement world.
I looked at Lisa, who was not glowing in the filtered light of the trees. She smiled at me, the leaves still tangled in her hair, and it saddened me to see the light draining away in a grey place.
We passed a park, and my heart beat in terror as I recognized some of the boys. My free body stiffened, and I felt trapped within the grey. I wasn’t glowing from the inside; my inner spark had been drenched from the inside. They approached us taunting.
“Hey Taralynn, did you take a bad fall?”
“Did you trip again and eat the dirt?”
“How come you can talk to nature but you can never talk to us? What is it about the outdoors that’s so wonderful? Its just dirt!”
“Hey guys! Taralynn talks to dirt!”
“Naw! You are what you eat!”
They hooted in laughter as I bit my tongue, ashamed now by the leaves in my hair and the dirt spread across my palms. I wasn’t a hero, I was a victim. I didn’t want to smile, I wanted to hide. We continued walking not uttering a word to provoke their taunts.
“Aww shut up you guys! Don’t be such dicks! Hey Taralynn!” My shoulders tensed, and I got that tingling. I wanted to run even more. It was Sam. I found my shoulders rising, to protect my last bit of dignity from him. I didn’t care as much about what the others had to say, but Sam was different. I didn’t want to see him looking a wreck. I didn’t want to see him under the oppression of his friends, where he wouldn’t talk to me the way we used to when we were little. Here, he wouldn’t join in the taunting, but he’d stand by and laugh, supporting their cruelty.
We kept walking, and slowly my shoulders unwound as we pulled away from them, and their shouts were beaten by distance. I thought we were safe.
I heard footsteps running behind me. I told myself to relax and breathe; we had passed them. They didn’t enjoy taunting me, it wasn’t convenient and they wouldn’t go out of their way to push around my self-esteem.
The footsteps slowed behind us, still running though, and bursts of laughter carried arcos the distance in sharp high-pitched knives. I walked faster, pretending I didn’t care.
Something brushed my butt. SQEEZE. I shot upwards like something had bitten me, and whirled around, my hands flying outward with momentum. My hand hit his face with a satisfying smack that rang out loud enough for the boys down the street to stop whooping and start wowing. Their laughter turned towards the red-faced boy who I wouldn’t bring my eyes to acknowledge as I turned around and continued walking. I felt violated. An object of theirs to abuse and torture, and even as I ran they still chased me for their own satisfaction.
The worst sting was the holler that lingered in my head as Sam yelled out, “Dam Taralynn! You hit that!”
I wanted nothing to do with them, and I wanted to scream at Sam, once made my hero, to stop degrading me because even if his friends didn’t know me, he did, and he allowed me to be treated this way.
The next page was blank, so she closed the journal, sad. She took herself so seriously then. Torn apart by any insults and would silently cry to herself. And yet she would never take a stand to end it, so she spent many of her life absorbing pain without acting against it. It made her sad to see herself so shut down then. SHe’d let go of her feelings because it didn’t flow in the same direction as everyone else’s. She shut herself down, and stopped talking to them, but now she realised she’d closed herself, not off from pain, but off from relief.
She realized how naive she was, and still was. She’d been wrapped in a dream boy that didn’t exist. She should have stopped the heartbreak before it got too deep.
Looking back now, she had just awakened a closet full of things about to fall out when she opened the door, so she kept it closed. Until now, as she opened her notebook. She flipped to the middle of the journal.
Everyone ignores her. No one noticed her blood shot eyes as she passes them, head down, in the hallways. Her hair closes her face, obscured from view. It makes it hard to see she isn't smiling. She feels the waves of selfishness wafting off of everyone around her, and she feels unwanted, unloved. The blazing fire inside of her was long dwindled to a flickering spark, and she wonders what kept it alight. She doesn't talk to people, she don't reach out because there's nothing there. Instead, she turns to the smearing ink on wet paper, and pours out her soul to no one but herself, and she exists, while they walk away laughing.
Heaviness grabbed her; this wasn’t a time period she labeled with pride. She had needed to get away from the poison, and yet she had always told herself she was being too soft and delicate. SO she stayed stayed near the knives, just as delicate, and shunned herself when she cried. She had drowned herself in self pity.
Looking back now, she realized she didn’t make a good friend herself. You have to give to get. She hadn't put herself out there at all. She thought she was alone, but she had never looked around to find someone else who felt the same way.
A tear rolled down her cheek.. She wandered around in her own darkness so long she never thought to put herself out there in the first place. She then realized in shame she as still in the same predicament.
She still had no friends; she still hid from who she was. She surrounded herself with people she didn’t value, and isolarted herself from the people she adored, and kept herself unhappy, but didn’t take the means to change it. The killer part was she knew better. In the past she had opened that gate to herself, and was enlightened with happiness and self-love. She had lost it.
She was a failure back then. She left her ideals of hero fade and she became someone else. Her thrown of nature and purpose replaced by bowing in servitude to those of judgment and laughter at her own expense. She had let her dreams fade. A familiar urge to pity herself, to sit alone on the couch with warm tea and feel sad overwhelmed her, but she realized that would mean falling into the same old rythm that she’d always returned to. Hiding would only postpone her mission. A dream doesn't go away. It rots from the inside out. She needed to find herself. She needed to conquer some old dreams.
She wondered if her past defined her capabilities, or if she had the ablilty to act, and it was only her mind holding her back.
And then she found herself wondering what defines us in the first place? Judgment popped into her head. Her entire childhood was limited in quaking fear of being hated, tossed aside unloved, and the fear turned into the truth. Did it still haunt her?
The depressing thought seized her, and she struggled to find a time she let herself be the judge of who she was to prove she could over come it. She flipped through her journal, desperate to find her strength, and she found it years later, during a time she wasn’t around those who could judge her.
I ran down a strip of thin cement, fenced on one side from the water, open to the other side of road and gum covered sidewalk. The path turned onto a dock, rows and rows of contained ship, mixed in with empty spots where my image who flicker between existent and nonexistent.
In the presence of the other me I could see long strides, strong muscles, flowing hair, naive beauty. There was a smile on my face. It was a real smile that wasn’t clouded with makeup or covering up the tears. Genuine freedom was written upon my face.
And I ran down the peer happy, watching the good parts of me momentarily disappear, and I'd power through to see the next one knowing it was just around the corner.
She closed the book inspired inspiration to find the next reflection of herself, and she cried for the girl who thought she could be alone. She cried for the self who didn't have the gut to be alone with herself anymore. She smiled knowing she was just in a time where she couldn't see the water, and she resolved to find the stronger self she admired. She was going to create her future to redefine who she was without judgment. She was on the path to finding herself, and she was about to retrace her steps starting with old passions.