The Forest in My Mind

Submitted into Contest #143 in response to: Set your story in the woods or on a campground. ... view prompt


Inspirational Speculative Thriller

I feel so free. I  am  free. 

All it took was the first painful step. 

“I’m leaving you here, don’t follow me,” I cry, as my voice breaks. Sweat frames my face. Don’t ever come back. 

I look at her once more with disgust. Naive and fragile, that’s what she is. Foolish and scared. But most of all, I look at her with embarrassment because she is me. And I, her. Her flaws I can see, rippling through her face. Inscribed in her eyes. Pouring through her lips, cascading down, performing an aura around her. 

I look at her from head to toe and turn away. Walking deeper into the woods. Weaving through the bold tree trunks, under fallen logs, bushes and thorns. Yet to find a rose. 

Soon she’ll lose me. The thing she kept most captive. Masking her way throughout my body, for far too long. How dare she? Simply the thought of her taking control once more, it’s terrifying. Which is why my arms begin to shake, and I’m rocking back and forth on my unbalanced feet. Considering. Considering whether to go back to her. And I’m racing. Racing away, before she takes control of my mind once more. Sprinting, frightened she might be in the shadows ready to reclaim me. Capture me, and hide me forever. I hear my fear too loud under my breath as I catapult forward, my body too fast for legs. They try to catch up, it isn’t enough. I fall to the ground. The trees around me, identical. The sky above me, identical. I look at the ground beneath my hands, and find her footprints racing to my shoes. 

“Get away!” I wail, flailing my arms. My feet fail in standing. Suddenly she’s tugging my hair, as I twist to face her, she’s gone. I know it’s not for long. I'm able to get up, I’m running, running through a bush of thorns. I hear her call me by her name. Her voice increases in volume every breath. Tears flowing down my face, as thorns bury into my flesh. I feel her obsessive hands shake my shoulder. Her fingers molding my skin. 

“Let me go,” I shout, as my limbs attempt to keep running. 

Anywhere away from her is enough. She releases me, I fall straight into the dirt. I continue crawling, my lips wheezing a silent cry, as I shove off the insects biting away at the palms of my hands. Every now and then, I feel her grab ahold of my ankle. Dragging my body into the mud. I struggle to keep my face from drowning into the mud. She’s taken a foolish liking to mocking me. Her grip only gets tighter the more I fight. Let go of me. 

“Please,” I gasp. I scramble to the closest tree, which takes my liking. I plunge into the tree bark. Climbing up. Her unbearable weight follows behind me. 

Let go of the branch. 

I relinquish the branch which my fingers finally found comfort in. Dreading the moment in which they’ll have to forget the familiarity. Find a new branch, one that’s more sturdy and closer to the top. Because every time I elevate closer to the stars, she loosens her grip. She’s frightened of the top. Succeeding. She doesn't take risks. 

The longer my fingertips hold on, the more difficulty will accompany the next move. The longer I hold on, the more certainty I give her, that I'm willing to give up. And the more foolish I prove myself to be. I release my grasp as fear washes over my body with torment. The fuel to keep pushing comes from the thought that if I give in to her I’d be still the same shadow of the past. That coward which avoided climbing this tree just yesterday. That coward who decided to stay with her a day longer. I’m not her any longer. She’s only there to record the memories, the morals, and justice which I’ll carry to tomorrow. Today’s about myself only. 

I grasp another branch as my leg hitches to a spot on the trunk. I pull myself up. Along with removing that hand, her hand of guilt, tugging at my shoulder, urging me to find comfort on the ground. Never, ever let go. 

It doesn’t take long before my muscles become immune to the steps. The thought that she might have fallen to the ground, reassures me to keep going. Along with her, all of the consequences which will take action as soon as one muscle messes up, completely dissolves from my mind. So much so, that the thought of falling seems unrealistic. 

The branches begin to part, as leaves rustle to the beat of the wind. And finally, I see the world before me. Stretched out, trees and trees. It’s only now that I manage to gulp down that pit in my throat. I've lost her forever. No, not lost. I’ve chosen to leave her, forever. Her and all of her principles implanted in her mind, written in stone. Some carved by society, some by loved ones, some by others. One way or another they pile up into her mind, until it drives her mad. Overbearing. Until her own skin feels too heavy on her feeble bones, until her own face feels foreign on her frame. Until she’s forgotten the person which they want her to be, but worse, she’s forgotten who the person is. 

But it’s hard to remember who I am without her. She understood all of it. The heart sinks deeper into the chest, cutting through flesh, catapulting straight into the spine. That’s the thought of loss. The heart being cut directly out of the chest, without precaution or warning. That’s loss. The wounds are fresh. She's left. She's taken a part of me with her. And I'm responsible. I blamed fear on her flaws. To others, deep down we will always be the same person. Blaming one another for the fear initiated inside. But, I know we are different people. Diverse eyes, for mine, observe situations in a spontaneous manner. A smell, which longs to be inhaled. A voice which explores the words fallen from the lips. I am my own person. I am Liberated. 

And I’m yelling. Yelling with certainty that my lungs will burst straight out of my chest. Yelling with a throat that hasn’t greeted water in far too long. Yelling with agony in my heart. Because of all I’ve had to get rid of to retrieve this mindset. Yelling for mercy. For I hope I can forgive myself, for ever listening to her.

Feeling that I am. It’s enough to dominate any other feeling. 

The rays awake, manipulate their way through the trees, caressing the new skin on my face. 

April 29, 2022 03:41

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Andrea Doig
05:10 May 07, 2022

Hello Greta! (Love your name btw). I enjoyed this very much. It was an interesting read in that, at first I thought she was getting rid of some negative aspect of her personality… something holding her back from succeeding (we all have one of HER don't we?!). But then I thought… wait. Maybe she is actually letting something go that she really NEEDS in order to succeed …. Hmmm. It kind of switched for me. And I thought… wait… don’t let her go completely!! Haha. I love stories that make me think and leave things open to my own interpretations....


Greta Bonati
17:34 May 07, 2022

Andrea, thank you so much for your feedback! I'm so glad you enjoyed reading my story. I really liked reading your though process, because it's nice to hear what the reader's point of view is, and how one interprets the story. The word 'liberated' I chose to capitalize because I felt it is a word which is superior to the rest in this story.


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Karen Lethlean
01:51 May 05, 2022

I loved this story. Am I right assuming that it is about domestic violence and one woman is getting out of there!


Greta Bonati
02:04 May 05, 2022

Hey Karen, thanks so much for the comment, it means a lot. This story I have chosen to be interpreted as one desires, for it is up to the reader to determine what the women is running away from, whether it's something physical or mental.


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