A SAFER PLACE
I had a dream a little while ago that I thought I’d share with you all. It has no tidy ending. Well, not yet anyways, but I thought some of the imagery was quite potent . . .
The young girl seemed tentative as she slowly prodded her meager vessel through the misty fog. She used a long stick, about two inches in diameter, to half paddle, half push her boat through the still, silver water. The light seemed to be coming from an opening several hundred feet ahead if her, and at present it only dimly lit the huge cave she found herself in. She couldn’t remember how she got here, or where she found her wooden stick – or the boat for that matter. All she knew was that she was alone – for the most part – and that she felt a knotting tension in her middle that seemed to be intensifying as she got closer to the opening.
As she came closer, within fifty feet of the opening, she became aware that she actually was not alone at all. She was being watched, quite closely in fact, by a myriad of beings that seemed to line the walls of the cave. The lake in which she paddled had widened as she approached the opening, the sides curving outward and almost forming a circle around her. The creatures were brown and looked a lot like living roots with hands, although she could see when she studied them more closely that they actually had faces. And menacing ones at that. The fatter roots formed something like bodies, while the narrow ones were like ling, spindly arms with almost talon-like hands. They seemed to be reaching for her, clutching at the air, drawing her nearer.
She looked again to the opening, which now was ahead and to the right as she seemed to be unconsciously succumbing to the drawing of the creatures. It seemed odd to her that, although the creatures themselves looked sinister, and the opening good, she was far more frightened of approaching the light than of folding herself into the dark embrace of the cavern’s living walls.
Even as her boat now drifted to the left of the opening, she felt her heart quickening and the fear intensifying at the prospect of exposure. The root-beings became more and more agitated, now reaching out their talon hands, beckoning her to come closer. She reached her stick down low to the bottom and shoved her way all the way to the left where she could safely tuck herself into the arms of the creatures.
She felt the fear subsiding as they drew their hard, sinewy arms around her. She closed her eyes and let them hold her close, easing her anxiety. The arms stopped their flailing and seemed to reach together to hold her tightly, creating a dark shield around her. They seemed content for her to simply go to sleep, as long as she never considered the light again.
The girl was settling quickly and may also have fallen asleep, except that she decided to take one last glimpse of the opening and its brilliant light. In that moment, she realized that, even though it felt much safer hiding behind the arms of the dark, it seemed silly to do so. The fear still gripped her chest as she considered, in a split second, the possibility that the light was good and current company was not.
She pulled away from the root-like arms and stepped back into her boat. The creatures began to reach for her again, inviting her back into their safety. She looked back at the twisted faces almost defiantly as she realized that she would rather risk inevitable peril at the hands of the light than to spend all her days in the arms of these evil entities.
With that she pushed herself onward and toward the opening of light. As she came closer, she realized it was a low and narrow opening. She had to bend low, as low as possible, and the small boat just barely squeezed through. As she exited the cave, the thundering sound of a waterfall met her ears. It had been silent in the cave, strangely, since the waterfall was only just ahead and she knew there was no escaping it.
She tossed her stick aside and now held on to the sides of her boat, eyes clenched shut, waiting for an imminent plunge to her death.
The boat fell gracefully over the edge of the waterfall and there were several seconds of near silence as she was airborne, waiting for the crash landing in the river below.
The boat hit the water and went under, before turning upside down and resurfacing. The girl let go of the sides and thought to herself it was quite amazing that she was still alive, and then quickly realized she had better abandon her life-raft, which didn’t seem to be turning right-side up any time soon, and try swimming to the surface.
She found the surface and could then see that she was being carried downstream quickly by a fast current. The bottom had become more shallow, maybe only three feet or so, and was covered in jagged rocks. The water moved so quickly and the bottom was so treacherous that she dare not kick or attempt to plant her feet to stop her carriage.
She soon realized that, if she did not flail or attempt to even swim or walk, she could actually spread her arms a little ahead, almost as though she was flying, and the water would just carry her. She was incredibly boyant in this water, and floating atop the current was surprisingly quite effortless.
The jagged rocks just below were easy to decipher, since the water was crystal clear. She watched them as she passed by them, and saw that, as the brilliant sun would cast its light upon them, they would sparkle like they were covered in gold dust. Or perhaps they were not rocks at all. Perhaps they were a million pieces of broken gold. And perhaps they were not a hindrance but rather a blessing to coax her into surrendering to the will of the water . . .