Watching the mist swirling into a solid mass in front of me, I quietly celebrate the end of my fourth week in isolation. I say that I did this quietly because I have not uttered a word to another human since I became stranded here, although I have initiated a one-sided discussion with a pair of oddly shaped trees to which I have given the names of Phil and Dave. I talked to them about the weather, which they have no real opinion on (being trees), but that I have grown to loathe with every fibre of my being. I have the thought, every now and again, that I’m going mad from lack of human contact, but I manage to push it aside; doubting myself will not help me escape this place.
To be completely honest, I am unable to comprehend how it was that I got this lost, only sure of the fact that it will not be easy to get un-lost again. Ancient civilisations believed that if you sailed far enough, you would fall off the end of the earth. Illogical though I know this to be, I feel as if I am at that point now, at the end of the earth, and if I take a few more steps forward, I will depart this realm forever. The reasonable side of my brain resists this idea, though. I’ve not gone mad, not yet, at least.
All I have are brief flashes of memory in between the fog I feel creeping into my mind, almost in sync with the fog in front of me: people, real people, laughing and joking. Vibrant colours surrounding me, I feel safe — safe and warm. I feel loved. No – now I feel terror, pure terror. A body on the floor, glassy eyes staring through me. I hear screaming, and I think for a few, foolish, glorious seconds that I am being rescued, but as I drag myself back into reality I realise that I am not, and the only person screaming is me. Pushing the memories to the back of my mind, I place one foot in front of the other and resume walking. I have to rescue myself; I can’t remember – I don’t want to remember why, but I feel sure that nobody is coming for me.
The mist seems to be all around me now, obscuring all of my senses. I am no longer sure how long I have been out here, or how much longer I can manage. My only companions, Dave and Phil, seem to be moving now, beckoning through the fog. I thought I walked past them days ago.
I am so sure now that I have not been going mad as I feared; Dave reassured me of that. He’s a good conversationalist and tells me all kinds of things, about the origins of the universe, myths and reality, although they are so similar now, so hard to distinguish. I have given up on walking now. I do not want to fall off the end of the earth.
I can see so much more clearly now that I have stopped trying to resist. The landscape, which once seemed so barren and inhospitable, I now realise is overflowing with life. Insects stroll over my motionless body as I lie flat on my back, facing the stars. They, too, are alive, the spirits of the dead watching over me serenely. The rotting carcass of a dead worm rests a few feet away. I wonder if it will join the stars. I wonder if I will join the stars.
Now, I do not realise how I could have spent so long hating this place. I feel more at peace with every second I am here. Even the mist does not bother me so much anymore. I feel like part of it now. Dave and Phil assure me that this is completely normal, that they feel that way as well. I am too weak to stand now, but they are not. They dance over the barren landscape, more gracefully than I could ever manage.
I will join them soon, but first I must sleep. I feel more tired than I’ve ever been.
Lovely writing. The ending is very sad, but more believable than an unlikely happy salvation, even though some of us might wish for it!
This is remarkable. I actually find it both unsettling and comforting…the letting go, and the seamlessly becoming everything.
For someone barely a decade old to be able to communicate both terror and surrender in so few words is breathtaking.
I love this – your descriptions and choice of words, the combination of horror, a bit of humor (Phil and Dave), and poetic sadness are very sophisticated for someone so young. Keep writing! (please.)
I loved it. So descriptive I felt as if I were there. I found the story to be about life in general. And the acceptance of things we can not change. Surrendering to the quiet while still being aware of the surroundings of mother earth. Please keep writing!
I initially had some scholarly, school teacher-ish comments that I was going to write, but they really were over-pretentious (if there can be such a thing). I will simply say how well I think you have done both with the concept of the story and its execution. The inclusion of Phil and Dave was an extremely good device to bring a touch of humour into what might otherwise have been a depressing tale. Instead it was just very poignant and thought provoking. Well done.
Absolute quality literature. I dare say Phil and Dave will be cultural and literary icons for millennia to come. I will be reading this to my future children as a bedtime story. Utterly profound.