Thick green grass, lush and deep. As far as she can see in every direction. Sunlight warmed her skin and filtered through her half closed eyelashes like a break in cloud cover on an overcast day. Twirling around and around her sundress puffs out, her arms outstretched as if to reach for something just beyond her grasp.
It’s the vaguest of thoughts…something not quite right. She cannot put her finger on it and it flitters through her mind like the solitary butterfly that had floated lazily by. Slowly she stops spinning, trying to capture the thought that wants desperately to get away. Her eardrums throb in her head, rhythmic and unending as if signalling a coming storm.
It was old. The house that sprang up . The front door creaked and groaned when asked by insistent humans to relinquish entrance to it’s dark space. The long, wooden staircase to the upper floor stretched on forever, leading to a small room at the top of the landing. Cold sweat dripped down her back.
“Who’s there?” she screamed. The pitch of her voice, unnatural in her own ears, echoed across the field of grass where she stood. She ran with all the speed that she had been born with and climbed the huge hill in the middle of the field in order to put distance between herself and that place. The putrid mound she climbed was slimy and stunk like garbage that had been allowed to rot in the heat.
Drumming. Loud and pulsating. Another house appeared beside the first. It was a pathetic pittance for someone’s hard earned money. Bare spots pockmarked the stucco walls and heavy metal bars on every window cast an unfriendly pall over it. She could almost see it’s aura of sadness from where she stood.
From inside the house came the soft tinkling of laughter from a child’s voice and the soothing tones of an adoring mother caressed by the soft wind. In a moment it was gone as black, rolling, angry clouds of tragedy had demanded blood and then been appeased. The cry that escaped her lips was torn from her body as if her limbs were being wrenched off.
“Where are you?” she cried, sobs convulsing her body into spasms of pain. “Where have you gone?”
She was alone. Totally, horribly, terrifyingly ALONE.
The drumming was slowing, at least that was something to be thankful for. It had hurt her ears. It had shut out everything else and so she was surprised to find herself screaming profanities at the top of her lungs. Other houses and buildings had slowly showed up in that lush, green field of grass, forming a complete circle around the mound of filth she was perched on. Each one she recognized, few as being places of joy but most as places full of pain and regret.
She couldn’t stand looking at these monuments tormenting her any longer. She needed to get far, far away. There was a path in the distance. She could barely make out the sign on the road marking the way but she thought it said Freedom. Slipping and sliding down the hill she fell hard onto the ground, scraping her hands and knees and covered in the grotesque slime from the hill.
She set out running to get around the hill, sure that she would find her way to the path. The hill closed in around her, suffocating her with its vile smell and everywhere she turned it was there. She couldn’t find the beginning or the end of it and so in desperation began kicking and screaming at it as if it could physically feel the pain she wanted to inflict on it. Over and over again she kicked and clawed willing it to get out of the way so she could find Freedom.
Exhausted and out of breath she formulated a new plan. If she just thought it out of existence it would disappear forever. After closing her eyes for awhile she realized that wasn’t working. You will never make it out of here, the voice said. You are nothing, will never amount to anything and are not smart enough to get out of here. The drumming was so soft now that she barely heard it.
“God, I hate you! I hate this stupid hill, I hate the houses and buildings, I hate the memories and the loneliness.” With each breath of hatred that spewed from her mouth the drumming quieted until it became so soft she had to cup her hand to her ear to make it out. It had been coming from the inside of the hill…odd.
Stepping back to survey the hill from a better angle she noticed that embedded in the mound was one hand-print after another cast into it’s surface. Whoever had built this stinking pile of filth had left evidence. She put her hand up to the closest imprint. Palm in palm, finger in finger. Height, width, breadth and depth, it was her hand.
The dam of her soul ruptured and tears poured down her face, splashing against the hill of her making. All of a sudden a mighty downpour engulfed her small shape, the sound like thousands of wild horses on the loose. Rivers of water began running brown and black and green in rivulets away from the disgusting hill.
It began to shrink and as it did, bricks were exposed with names on them like “sadness” “hurt” “abandonment” “rejection” “fear” “hatred” “self-loathing’. As soon as the downpour hit them they crumbled and melted away. She stood up to witness this miracle, sensing her path to Freedom was close at hand.
With each layer of filth that washed away, the drumming became louder until at the middle of what used to be the hill, stood a little person. Her heartbeat, almost silenced by the crushing mound, now beat strong after being released from the prison. Her hair soft and golden hung down her back. Her eyes were clenched shut, not used to seeing light but when they opened…
Brilliant blue, wide, full of hope and happiness. I had seen them before. They were mine.
I took her hand. “Do you want to walk down the path of Freedom with me?” I asked her.
Her smile was pure like the child she was and wise like the woman she would become. She took my hand and we set out, two halves of a whole, distinct yet the same. On the path called Freedom.