The sound of a door slamming echoed through the empty halls. A bright harsh light blinded her. She had not seen light in such a long time, she had almost forgotten what it was. She squinted, lifting her arms above her head to shield her throbbing eyes from the unforgiving shine. As she began to sit up, unfamiliar grey flowers that had grown along her slumbering form began to fall away before her. Through shadowed eyes she watched them whither, die, and dissolve into ashes around her. The sun shone brightly through the broken windows of her cold stone prison. This was freedom. She shivered as she tried to pull her robes tighter around her shoulders, but the biting wind that whistled through the shards of glass pulled harder. Goosebumps pricked her honeyed skin like quills of a frightened porcupine. Was it from the cold, or was it from the memories?
She grabbed her head as the lightning struck her temples from within her mind, while trying to remember her name. It is best to forget for now. This is freedom. Her stomach grumbled angrily, lurching from within her as if it were trying to escape. Sustenance, she gathered, she needed to find something that would help her to survive. She stood to her feet on the cold stone floors, leaving the creaking iron wrought bed behind her. Her toes buried in the ashes of the flowers that held her captive. She wondered how she got here, the throbbing within her head reminded her to forget. This is freedom. As she trudged through the dust, ashes and grime she found her way to a solitary wooden door, hanging from the hinges. It was easily pushed aside, this door cannot keep her here, she knew this and moved forward. This is freedom.
The hall was long and dark to her left, longer and darker to her right, but before her was another door, sturdier than the one she had just come through. The edges between this iron door and the stone walls glowed with the warmth of the rising sun. She knew that her life, her future, lay beyond this threshold. This is freedom. Her legs, slender and atrophied ached as they pulled her forward towards the light. Her bony, slim fingers, outstretched and reaching, fumbling through the dark towards the warmth. She gasped as she collapsed against it, her messy brown curled tendrils clinging to her sweat drenched forehead. Confusion clouded her judgement as she looked back to her frozen prison, she needed to rest. The place she escaped from beckoning her back to rest her weary bones, to close her tired eyes, to calm the aching in her head that forbade her from remembering.
The dust began to swirl around her shaking body as she sunk down to the stones beneath her. Grey vines began to creep from betwixt each stone, wrapping themselves around her wrists and ankles. At first, she thought the light, the warmth was fading and growing dimmer, however it became evident by the sounds of her unkempt nails grating across the stone floor, that the iron wrought bed was pulling her back in. This is freedom. Weakly, meekly, she struggled back towards the light, for every finger forward, she was pulled a foot back. The vines and flowers growing thicker, stronger, the light quickly fading into a memory, her head splitting with every thought about it. It is best to forget about such painful things, she closed her eyes and let the darkness and flowers envelope her as the bed drew nearer. This is freedom.
NO! She began to thrash about on the hard stones, bruising her tender sallow flesh against it, bashing her ankles and wrists while she flailed. The flowers clung to her still, steadily pulling as the wind whooshed harder against her hair, flinging it in her eyes and mouth. She coughed, choked and sputtered but she did not stop her desperate bid for freedom. She would not close her eyes again, she would not resign her life to that bed once more. Her head ached and split as she forced pictures of the past through her mind. Gasping for breath she managed to free her right hand, clutching at her chest and ripping the flowers and vines from around her throat. They grew faster, furiously pushing their way inside her mouth, holding her tongue so she could not cry out, so she could not scream. She bit down hard as the flowers turned to rotten ashes in her mouth, her eyes streaming with tears as she spit them out. This is freedom.
She wept as she fought, clawing and tearing at her strange grey wardens. They would crumble and disintegrate before, like the hydras of old, three more vines would rise up to take their place. She was weak, she was tired and worst of all she was beaten. The struggle became more and more hopeless, each swing of her battered limbs carried less fire than the one levied beforehand. Her breath became more ragged as now her heart ached as badly as her head seeing as how she fought as hard to remember as she had to escape. Perhaps she should have never awakened, would life have been this difficult had she stayed in her slumber? As her thoughts drifted a blinding light flashed within her mind, shadows from the past becoming illuminated at last.
He was beautiful. His eyes were an icy blue, his hair a frosty white, his kiss was cold and exhilarating, stinging her lips with every frigid embrace. She did not notice when her crown of wildflowers grew brittle with frost, shattering beneath his touch becoming nothing but thorns. He mesmerized her with his sly smirk, leaving her breathless. When he asked her to come away with him, she did not hesitate. When they wed, alone in the wilderness with only Mother Earth as witness, she could not take her eyes off of him as he gazed into the distance. He brought her back to his dilapidated frozen stone fortress, he did not carry her, he walked, and she foolishly followed him. The iron wrought bed in his bedchamber was the sole possession of his within his entire estate. She sat on the bed and beckoned him towards her, he obliged as he gently lay her down, the bed quietly protesting against their weight. As her earthen brown eyes gazed into his icy blue ones, his pale ashen lips met her plump pink ones one last time. His body began to unravel around them beginning with his fingers as they turned to grey, wrapping themselves around her wrists and arms. Her eyelids fluttered as the weight of the flowers and vine held her down, smothering her.
She could not stop what was happening, she could not keep her eyes open. As she drifted off into the decade long slumber that held her here, another heart called out to her in the darkness. A call so powerful it shattered the vines and flower darkened window above her head, slamming the wooden door until it lay in shambles off its hinges. The brilliant light warming her face until her eyes finally lifted. The memory leaving as she once again felt the call from the heart bringing her back to the present. This is freedom.
The wind blew again, harder than before, this time not suffocating her, but restoring her breath and strength. Her head finally cleared, her memories restored, the grey vines holding her down becoming weaker and weaker as she stood once more to her feet. The cold grey flowers dissolved at her feet, the ashes burning beneath her. The crown of thorns at her brow began to sprout tiny green buds that blossomed into pink and white petals. From the ashes and flames rose two small girls, the larger one with earthen brown eyes and long loose brunette curls that glowed with strands of reds and oranges. Upon her brow she also wore a crown, however hers was of maple leaves, golden, bronzed and encrusted in rubies. The other was slim and small, her eyes icy blue, her hair frosty white, so too did her brow bear a crown, hers of white diamond icicle thorns with small sapphire blue roses intertwined in it. She knew these small girls could not stay in this forsaken castle. She embraced them both, her robes flowing out behind her growing from green vines and wildflowers. She loved them instantly, none of them would ever be alone again. This is freedom.
This decade of slumber and imprisonment was not a fruitless endeavor. She gently held their tiny outstretched hands within her own, she stood straight, her chin held high, her back towards the iron wrought bed as it burst into flames behind her. She could feel the fire burning but she would not turn back, not again. The iron door grew closer, and with every stride she could feel her strength returning, her peach undertones flooding her cheeks as her golden honey skin glowed in the dark hall lighting their way. The children were afraid to leave, they knew no other life besides the one within these cold stone walls, they gazed up at her with worried eyes as she smiled reassuringly at them.
Once again, she could feel that heart call to her, drawing her forward like magnetism. The small crease between the iron and stone glowing hotter and brighter than ever. The young girls could feel it as well, their pace quickened besides their mother. The dark space between the family and the door shrinking with every passing second, until they stood directly before the now blindingly white-hot door. Although the light was brilliant and hot, they did not avert their eyes, they did not shy away. Instinct had taken over, their hearts opening as one to answer the call that had awakened her, the call that had freed her from her slumber. Her glow grew more intense, increasing from within her, spreading along her skin until it enveloped her children on either side of her, the darkness in the hall quickly receding. Their combined luminescence was all it took to set the iron door completely aflame as it folded in on itself, dripping molten hot metal onto the cold stones before them, hardening at their feet.
The more it melted, the more heat they could feel as the sun beamed on their smiling faces, they glanced at one another excitedly. Holding each other’s hands tighter they soaked in all of the gleamingly brilliant warmth and love from the growing opening. The embers began to die down as it grew closer to the floor before petering out entirely. The once trapped woman breathed in deeply as she led her two little girls into the brightly lit beyond, with every step she took, life seeped up from the ground and into everything around her. The cold brittle grass became greener, the drooping wilted leaves perked up as buds sprouted from every stem filling the once desolate valley with sweet fragrances from their spreading blossoms. Their eyes filled with wonder and awe as they looked around at the life flowering before their eyes, the birds waking in their nests, small creatures scattering about in the underbrush. Her heart filled with joy as the small girls sprang forward towards the small bubbling spring in the distance, she bounded along with them, the three of them giggling all the way.
As they replenished themselves with water from the babbling spring and the wild berries in the surrounding bushes she could feel that heart call to her once more. That heat, that light shining from across the stream was unmistakable, it was the warmth that had awoken her from her decade of captivity and nightmares. That stirred her into freeing herself from the now crumbled stones that lay far behind them engulfed in flames. She stood gathering her children up in each arm, her strength was unparalleled. Her long strong legs leapt towards the light on the distant shore. There he stood tall and lean, his wiry muscled arms stood bare glinting in the light. His smile was warm and brilliant, he was breathtaking. The most gorgeous man she had ever seen. Her heart swelled as the magnetic pull between them pulled her in faster.
He ran out to meet her as he knew, who she was, he had waited for her to awaken for a very long time. His arms outstretched wide, he scooped the three of them up and held them to his chest, his bare ankles covered by the cool stream. Their faces met, she noticed that he too bore a crown about his brow. His was pure sunlight, hot and brilliant but it did not burn, nor did it blind them. Their lips met in an intense and passionate embrace. There was no pain, only love. He smiled again, bringing a smile to hers as well and like a contagion it spread to her young daughters until they were all smiling and laughing.
She glanced down at Autumn and Winter kissing the tops of their heads as she held them close to her in the strong embrace of Summer. She smiled as she remembered her name, laughing when she realized what they were standing in. Burying her face deep into Summer’s bare chest, slowly breathing in his crisp, clean and intoxicating scent then giggling when his short chest hairs tickled her nose. Spring closed her eyes, breathing a sigh of relief whilst thinking to herself, this is home. This is Freedom.