It happened quickly. So very quickly. It was a sunny day like any other, and I was walking along the same path, the same way I do every day. But on that day, I decided to take a different turn. I don’t really know why I did. A feeling I guess, that I should travel this way. And as soon as I did, as soon as I made that choice, everything changed. I fell. I stumbled into a rabbit hole, and I fell. A very long way.
I fell for what felt like hours. In my stomach I could feel the fall. Every part of my body felt that fall. The air rushing past, the fear, the panic, the sickening thrill– and the instinct to survive, seemingly overpowering everything. At that moment, all I remember thinking was that this was what it felt like to be alive. Afraid, fighting, your senses heightened. Human emotion as its most raw.
I fell for hours.
And when I landed, everything had changed.
I landed in a dark place. A dark and twisted wonderland. And I’m sorry to say…I’m still here.
Here the world looks different. Everything is different. Words don’t sound the same. I don’t feel the same. The people aren’t the same. I travel slowly here, and I don’t trust often. I’m terrified of what lurks around every corner. I check behind myself constantly, to make sure that I’m not being followed. Everywhere I look I can see the residents of this place, watching me. Sometimes they speak kindly, but most of the time they don’t. Most of the time they’re distrustful, callous. Cold. I don’t know why. All I know is that here fear is real, and it has a form.
I’ve met guides along the way. Their lights lead me, guiding me to what I can only hope is back to the surface. Sometimes they fade away and I wait, terrified that they won’t come back, that I’ll be left in that dark place forever. Alone. But they always do. And we resume our slow, painful walk through the twisted trees, through the rubble of fallen palaces and withered rose gardens. Through the wreckage of things that should have been, but weren’t. Through things that could have been, if they had been dreamed of somewhere else. Someplace where they would have had a chance.
Fear is a place. It’s a place in your mind, and when you travel there, it’s easy to get lost. You can fall forever, and when you land it’s not always where you started. It warps the way you see the world, makes it unfamiliar and evil. I want to escape it, but right now it feels unlikely that I will. At least not for a while. It feels, actually, like the most unlikely thing in the world.
I’ve heard that if you fight long enough and hard enough, you can find your way back to the surface. I want to get there. For now my writing leads me, allowing me to see the path in front of me as I travel. Slowly. Painfully. Hopefully.
I want to carry my memories of this place back with me. Perhaps I need to carry my memories of this place back with me. Of the people, of the ruins, of the dark winding path. So that one day, when I’m not here anymore, I can still remember what it feels like to be here. And most importantly, so I can always remember what it felt like to slowly fight my way back to the light.