What Lies Beneath?

By Jaime Simons (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)

I followed the moon. It led me to the place my soul wanted to be. I find myself beneath towering trees, as if they are protecting me while the clock strikes midnight. Like the owls in the trees surrounding me, my eyes widen, exposing them to the cool night air. I am drawn to the sweet smell of the freshly cut grass, and I lie on its soft carpet. Staring into the star-filled sky, I feel the freshness of the air, and notice a small shot of light speeding across my field of vision. I make a wish, relaxing, feeling a sense of peace.

Suddenly, chills rush down my spine when I notice a faint smell of smoke, and see a fire not far away. I peer over the graceful tall grasses, and I see a beautiful bridge being devoured in an enraged sparking blaze. Doll-like people are sitting on the other side of the bridge, creating chaotic sounds as the wood is burning; while my side of the bridge is dark, and I am alone. I watch as the people dance and sing, all the while observe the hypnotic burning scene. Unbelievably, the neatly constructed pile of sticks is not being consumed by the fire. There is no rubble, no ash.

I wander over to a small girl with what looks like a dulcet pink icing swirled on the top of her head, and perfectly flawless features. With caution in her voice, she breathlessly told me that the other side of the bridge is forbidden territory. I must not cross the bridge, where a Hayman roams the woods there. But he can only capture those who pass over. Still, I am unable to control my body as it moves toward the bridge. I see my footprints in the glitter- covered mud, yet my eyes are locked on the river of fire before me. I hear leaves crunching and small branches snap beneath my feet, and become aware of being followed.

Before I can shake myself out of the trance am in, I feel myself being snatched up, carried high in the air. The Hayman! Through the darkness, I see we are approaching an old hidden door. It is small, crumbling and quite frightening. The wind whips the leaves around, the portending winter adding to my gathering fear. Flinging open the creaky door, the man tosses me inside like a pair of old worn shoes, and runs off into the night. I sit quietly, hoping for some small ray of light that just a little while ago, I was enjoying from my vantage point on the grass. But the space is darker than the night itself.

As if to confirm my deepening fear, a blanket of thick fog slowly descends upon me. Shaking off the fuzziness in my head, I begin to think of a plan. Carefully, slowly, I spread my arms in front of me, searching for any escape route. As I inch my way forward, I realize there are no obstacles in my way; no walls, no furniture, no stairs. With each step, I am seeing a light, growing larger and larger as I advance. As the fog dissipates, it reveals a beautiful lake sparkling, and lit like the sun. Running toward the shimmering stream, I jump into the soothing water joyfully. Its magical liquid soothes my cracked lips, softens the skin of my body, and makes my hair silkier than a newborn babies’.

Alarmed at this dramatic transformation, I quickly jump out, realizing that I am not aware of what this substance is. As I turn, the lake disappears, yet I have now acquired an amazingly strange night vision. At last, I can see my surroundings, and when I do, I gasp. Strewn around me are all kinds of porcelain dolls, staring like they can see into my very soul. They are peering into every one of dirty little secrets, and digging through my deepest, darkest thoughts. Blinking furiously, once again, I am thrust into a new place.

I find myself in a room in my old daycare center. It was a place I dreaded going to more than anything else in the world. I hated that I was locked in such a childish place, while my parents were free to live their adult lives as they pleased. As I recall these things, the place where I am begins to change yet again. Baby pink ducks and purple teddy bears pasted on the walls are covered with graffiti. Shards of glass are scattered across the floor. Broken tables and chairs are strewn everywhere. As my heart sinks, I am overwhelmed by a feeling of homesickness. Why would I wish away all the things I had? All I feel is regret, and the need to flee this strange place.

As I do, I catch a glimpse of myself in a cracked mirror hanging on the wall. I am mesmerized by my own smooth, flawless skin, so shiny that it could almost be a mirror itself. My eyes are bright, expertly made up in bright colors my mother never permitted me to wear. Crimson red lipstick stains my smooth lips. Pulling myself away from the mirror, I look to my side only to see a window, wreathed in cobwebs. Newly focused on escaping the room, I push aside the silky threads and jump out the window.

I find myself running toward the burning overpass. There are the porcelain people who were gathered at the bridge before my adventure. I now look exactly like them. I sit and stare at the flames just like them. Gazing into the infuriating flames like a sunset, I realize that I no longer look like myself. A tear slides down my perfectly smooth cheek, and I hope with all my might that I would see another shooting star, to bring me back to myself.

Very soon, I see a little girl who looks like the old me approaching. She begins to stare into the fire as she takes a place beside me. She whispered, “I created you, I created this place. If you can distinguish the burning bridge, I will take back your wish.” I reveal a slight grin as I realize how easy this task I was given would be. I need to find a source of water to defuse the raging flames. She returned the grin and informed me that there are no bodies of water around and I would have to find another method. The gears in my head are turning rapidly and I came up with the idea of splashing some of the magic liquid onto the bridge. The girl fetched me some of the liquid and I threw it on the fire. I’m relieved and want nothing more than to be back to my normal self. She points toward the other side of the bridge and appeared to be amused when I request to be changed back. She looks at me, “You really think I was going to go through with my promise? I wanted you to extinguish the fire so that the force field would be taken down.” I’m no longer smiling with excitement; my eyes quickly fill with anger and drown in fear. The girl pointed as a horde of large Haymen head our way.

“Run.”

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