What Freedom Feels Like

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
By day, the Crowley woods are beckoning and beautiful. But at night, it changes into the horror that many unfortunate people have witnessed. None have made it to the end of the path so far...

Submitted: November 24, 2006

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Submitted: November 24, 2006

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When you enter the woods in the back of the Crowley mansion, the sun is shining through the leaves, casting dotted shadows on the earth below your feet. The tall, friendly trees seem to beckon you, calling to you, telling you to keep walking. The small squirrels and bright feathered birds all chatter excitedly, glad there's a new person to join in their game. So you blissfully continue down the path, completely unaware of what is to come. But in time, the sunlight fades, the birds flee, and the squirrels no longer run or chatter about. You are weary, and there is dark, everywhere. Panicked, you run away, wildly, no longer thinking rationally. You flee from the path in terror, unaware that if you had just kept on the path a little longer, until the end, you'd have made it out. Out of the dark wood, the fear that clutches at your throat, the darkness that weighs on your chest, threatening to strangle you.

Eventually morning comes, your breathing slows, and the birds and squirrels appear again. You can see the path, the opening that took you into the acursed woods in the first place. But you'll never return. Never.

Every other day or so a new person visits Old Man Crowley. He was a wise old man, with many friends. They come for tea and cookies, and after a long intellectual conversation, they notice the woods out of his kitchen window. Never fails. Then they leave. They turn toward the car, but they decide to get one last look at the woods. Then something draws them to it. Without stopping, they hesitantly walk toward the woods, and decide that a small stroll wouldn't hurt. But it does. Oh yes, it does.

One day Marcia Granly decided to bring her son Jonathan over to Old Man Crowley's house. Of course, he was called Mr. Crowley, or Wilson by close friends, to his face, but was always thought of as Old Man. Marcia and Jonathan had the tea and cookies, as usual, and talked of all sorts of things, from modern science to the Thanksgiving pageant Jonathan was to be in later that month. While they babbled, Jonathan wandered outside. He sat on the steps and hummed a song he'd seen on Sesame Street that morning. A bright bluebird landed on the sidewalk in front of the small boy and cocked its head. Jonathan cocked his head back. The bluebird did an odd sort of hop, and Jon responded by mirroring the gesture. The bird chirped, then flew up and landed on the branch of a nearby bush. It stared at Jon, and Jon took a hesitant step toward the blue animal. The bird suddenly flew up and up, and circled over Jonathan's head. Jon yelled "Wait!" and ran after the bird. The strange creature led Jon to the wood. Jon gasped -- he'd never seen such a beautiful sight! Jonathan took a sudden step and shuddered. An odd sensation, like tears or something, gathered in Jon's throat and weighed down on him. He ran down the hill fast. Then came the oddest occurence.

Jonathan heard a distant voice. It was beautiful. It beckoned to him, told him of wonderful things, of another world abundant in beauty and all the things Jonathan had heard but never experienced. He heard the tide of an ocean, the sound of an eagle screeching, of a happy child's laughter. Jon turned around and the sounds dissapeared. Now all he heard was the bluebird's beckoning chirp. It was then that the child decided to go into the woods.

*****

"Maybe he'll be the one!"

"Foolish girl,"

"Oh, Daddy..."

"Lucille!"

The one called Lucille sighed and slumped against the solid barrier that kept her from the outside world she so longed to see. She closed her eyes, and her thick lashes brushed against her fair skin. She ran a hand through her long blonde hair, knowing that she probably could never make her Dad understand. There was something different about this little one -- he was...what was the word? Lucille scrunched her eyebrows, searching for the right one. Perceptive. That's it.

He'll make it. He will. This boy will be the one to make it to the end of the path. thought Lucille.

"Why don't you go run off and find Sylvia?" The tall man said, his tone softening. Lucille nodded and smoothed her long blue skirt. She ran across the tiled floor and turned down the hall. Day after day, Lucille stared at the trees through her glass barrier, waiting for the curse to be lifted so her and her family and friends could be freed. It seemed Lucille was the only one with hope. Sylvia's family had adapted and accepted. Lucille's father had given up hope, the sadness in his eyes that presented itself as he gazed at the wood each and every day made that plain as day.

Lucille rounded the corner and fould Sylvia on the floor, playing Story with her brother. Lucille sat down next to Danny and listened to the crazy story the two were making up.

"Hi, Lucy!" Sylvia said. Lucille groaned.

"I hate that nickname!" Lucille said. Sylvia giggled. She grasped Lucille's forearm and pulled her across the tile floor to the neighboring room.

"So what's up?"

"There's a new one."

The silence that followed was unbearable to Lucille. Sylvia sighed. She was always careful when it came to her best friend -- Lucille could be so...so...optimistic. Sylvia knew how high Lucille's hopes could go -- and how far they could fall. Millions of times, in the coutless years they'd been trapped, Sylvia had witnessed the plummet. She waited a long time before speaking.

"Lucille..." she said quietly. Her best friend erupted.

"Oh quit it, Sylvia! Just stop! Stop being edgy, and careful, and just be real! Stop worrying that you'll hurt my feelings! I know you think I'm a drama queen, that my hopes are too high, but just stop! Be real!" Lucille said again.

Sylvia was shocked. "You're telling me to be real? You're the one who thinks that every unfortunate soul who wanders by will save us, but none of them ever do! You're the one woho needs a wake up call!" Sylvia shouted, before she could stop herself. Uh oh. she thought.

It was then that Lucille collapsed. She fell in a heap on the floor, sobbing uncontrollably. Sylvia was taken aback. She'd never seen Lucille behave like this before! Syliva took Lucille's hand in hers, and pulled her into a hug.

"I'm sorry," Lucille said, her voice muffled by Sylvia's green dress. They pulled apart, and Sylvia helped her broken friend stand again.

"It's just...well...there's so much out there, and we're missing it all! Ever since we were babies, Sylvia, we've been here. Seeing the same tiled walls, same prison, and we don't even know why..." Lucille was threatening to cry again.

A time of silence followed before Sylvia tentatively broke it. "I remember some of the world. I remember, as a tiny child...the water. It was clear, and so amazing...I'd love to see it again..." she said wistfully. But all she saw was the same green, brown, red, yellow, and orange colors that is the wood. The curse dictates that whoever can make it to the path at the end of the horrible night will break the curse. None have made it so far.

Danny rushed into the room at that moment. "Sylvie, can we play Story again?" he asked. Sylvia grinned and looked at Lucille who nodded. Sylvia took her best friend's pale hand into her own dark one and led her out of the bleak room, leaving the memory of Lucille's breakdown behind them on the gleaming black floor beneath their feet.

*****

Jonathan found himself travelling deeper into the woods, unable to turn around. Jonathan was the only person who walked the deadly path with a feeling dread -- all the rest were blissful. Soon the sun went down, and Jonathon found himself on the verge of panic. But he held it down. Something inside was screaming at him -- telling him to run back to the Old Man's house, but a smaller voice, a more profound one, told him to keep going. Whatever it was at the end of the path was very worth the horrifying experiences it took to get there.

Jonathan's tiny feet toddled along in the darkness. His green eyes were wide with fear, his heart was rapidly beating away in his chest. Evil eyes stared at him along the sides of the path. His feet wanted to run, but he kept walking regardless. Large clawlike branches jumped up at Jon, they snagged on his clothes, they teared at his skin, drawing tiny beads of blood. Jonathan tripped over a giant root that protruded at the base of a large tree. Jonathan cried out and landed with a thud in the dirt. As he picked himself up, it took everything the child had in him to keep from running. He kept going, his heart still hammering away. Something in him told him that the end was near, not much longer now. The oddly mature child kept seeing his mother's face, he desperately wished she was here. He was so close to the end...

Lucille sat on the floor outside the barrier, melancholy ensuing her.

The blonde girl was unaware of the other presence at the doorway. Sylvia watched Lucille helplessly, wondering if there was something she could do. Lucille wanted so desperately to be free...and Sylvia could do nothing to help her. Sylvia swept up her dark hair into a ponytail and turned around. She couldn't bear to see Lucille's pain anymore.

All of the sudden, the floor tilted beneath her. Lucille screamed, and Sylvia whirled around to see Lucille with her hand over her mouth, tears threatening to spill over. At the tall girl's feet was a small, dirty, utterly spent little boy.

Suddenly, everything around them changed! The floor tilted and rocketed, and the two girls fell to the floor. The glass barrier in front of them shattered into a million peices, just as Danny and the adults rushed into the room. Each glass shard caught in the moonlight and glittered. Lucille covered the little boy's head with her hands, not wanting him to be cut. The tile walls that had been the norm for many many years burst open. The floor seperating Lucille and Jonathan from the rest of the group suddenly split open, getting wider by the second.

"JUMP'' Lucille screamed. Sylvia grabbed Danny's hand and together they sailed through the air, luckily making it over the gap.

 

Jonathan was crying, and he didn't know why. Lucille grabbed his hand, and together they ran into the woods. The family huddled together and watched the prison that had kept them enclosed for an eternity collapsed into a swirling black gap in the earth. Together they turned around and watched the sun rise, a sight they hadn't seen in over seventeen years. Sylvia picked up Jon and laughed. Lucille spun around and joined in with Sylvia's glee. Jonathan had no idea what he had done, or what he had just experienced, but something told him it was amazing. And Jon had ceartainly learned to trust those "somethings".

Sylvia had never seen Lucille this happy before, in all her life. She pulled her friend into a hug, and winked at Jonathan who sat wearily before them.

Something inside Lucille rose up, spread its wings, and burst into flight, rising up rapidly to meet the golden heavens above her head.

So, Lucille thought, as tears of joy ran down her face and caught in the golden sun, this is what freedom feels like.


© Copyright 2018 ladyJ. All rights reserved.

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