Creative Writing Assignment: August 2 2013
Lacey wanted nothing more than to hide. She had been humiliated. Her “best friend,” Sarah, had stolen her crush, and the fight that erupted as a result left her with nothing. Everyone witnessed the ugly argument between former friends that left her gaping wounds bare. All hope at salvaging their friendship was lost when Lacey blew up in front of the entire high school at lunch. The worst part was the way he looked at her. The amused smile he had while her heart was breaking, the look that said she was strange as she screamed at her former friend. He thought it was funny she liked him, he thought it was funny that she was mad, and he thought she was weird. Matt had been her crush for three years, since junior high, and he thought she was weird. Her life was over. Nothing mattered as she ran from the high school. With a flash of lightning and a crash of thunder, the rain came down. She couldn’t tell if the sky was sharing her pain or mocking it. Lacey ran through the park, to the forest behind her house.
In the forest, she worked her way through the underbrush, weaving between trees, to the one place she still felt safe. Rain soaked and dripping, she approached her tree. The enormous tree welcomed her with it’s soft, wet leaves as she pushed a low hanging branch out of the way. Once inside, the leaves concealed her presence. Lacey pulled the makeshift door open, and entered the hollow in the tree. This hollow had been her favorite place since she could remember. She couldn’t remember when or how she found this tree with it’s soft, comfortable hollow, but she had quickly taken to it. The hollow was deep. Free from the elements and uphill from the natural wash of rain, she spent time here in all manner of weather. Even in a torrent, it was dry enough inside she kept a spare blanket, a flashlight, and a couple of books for times she wanted to be alone. Today, instead of reading, she wept.
Lacey’s tears fell unrelenting. The ache in her heart throbbed painfully as she thought about what she had lost and how everyone had laughed. She wouldn’t go back to school. She couldn’t. Her agony would never end. She couldn’t face anyone she knew ever again. The humiliation was too great and he would be there. Most of all she couldn’t face him again. Now that he knew, and had found out that way. Lacey wept into her blanket as she curled into a fetal position, hopelessly sobbing. Nothing else seemed important.
The blue light was coming from somewhere deeper in the forest. It’s bright, soft glow pierced the darkness like a beacon of hope. The wet grass brushed her legs as she wove her way through the trees. As Lacey worked her way between the familiar trees, she found herself somewhere she had never been. The closer she got to the light, the older the trees seemed to be. She was sure she had gone farther into the forest than this before, yet here she was, among trees older and larger than any she had ever seen before. The heavy moss growing on the trees was thicker and fuller than she had ever known too. The air grew cooler and more humid as she walked deeper into the darkening forest. Soon, the blue glow was the only light she had.
The great trees, now towering overhead teemed with sound. Sure only that the forest was alive, Lacey started to wonder what she was doing out here alone. Bushes rustled and branches shook all around her. She remembered the dangerous animals and nocturnal predators she had learned about in school. She should turn back. She paused to get a feel for her surroundings and realized she didn’t know how to get back. There was no path behind her. Only the deep forest she had woven her way through with no clear indication of where she had been. Turning back to the blue light, she at least had a destination. She had thought the light was moving, now she knew for sure. It was farther away than when she stopped. She started after it again, slowly catching up. Still working her way through the trees, she chased the light. For a moment she thought she saw the shape of a person in the light through the trees, but just as quickly it was gone. The light was close now, but just too far through the vegetation to see. From behind, she heard a deep rumbling growl. Lacey tried not to run, remembering through near panic predators like that. She felt the weight of eyes on her back as she picked up speed. Something brushed her neck. Fear took hold.
Lacey ran like she had never run before. Fear was her fuel and that fuel pushed her harder and faster than she knew she could go. The trees rushed by with branches and underbrush flowing past her like water. The living forest erupted around her with motion. Dark patches were rushing toward her as she ran. Shadows rolled toward her in waves of movement clawing at each other in the process. Behind her, rumbling growls were accompanied by cracking wood and loud crunches as though some rampaging giant was tearing down trees. The uneasy propellent of her fear gained power. She felt if she panicked, she would stumble and be overtaken, but a healthy fear worked in her favor. The light was still just out of sight. Like some bad dream, It felt as though the blue light continued to be just out of reach no matter how fast she moved.
That’s when it hit her. “Am I dreaming?” She thought. When she did, the light came into view. At the central point of the light was a person standing there, glowing bright blue. Once she saw it, she quickly caught up to the being of light. Everything else fell away. She was still in the deep forest, but it was calm. Quiet.
Later, she couldn't recall a face, but she would remember a sense that it, he, was smiling at her. Welcoming her with a look of admiration and joy. In that face, in the form she would only vaguely recall, the one thing that would stand out was his intense beauty. She had never seen anything so lovely before in her life. She could see everything about this “man”. She could see his desires, his intentions, his thoughts laid bare somehow in the light emanating from him. It was as though the light displayed his music, his heart, his soul, for lack of a better word. This being was the most beautiful creature she had ever seen.
“Lacey,” a calm, soothing voice said, “why are you so sad?”
Confused by the question, she just stared a moment. She remembered fear, excitement, intrigue, triumph, but not sadness. “What do you mean?” She asked. Then she remembered where she was and what she was doing before she fell asleep, and she laughed. It all seemed so ridiculous. So trivial now. She had found peace, she had run with monsters at her heels. She had chased down the unreachable and found beauty beyond memory. Here, now, nothing else seemed important. “I was sad because I thought I lost something important. Now I know better.”
He smiled back. “I’m glad to hear that. I’ve been waiting a long time to meet you, but when I felt your heart cry out, I couldn’t wait any longer.”
She nodded, somehow understanding their meeting was inevitable. “What were you waiting for?”
“Us both to be ready."
“Now we are?” She asked, something felt a little strange about that.
“I’m afraid not.” He replied a little sadly. “And I don’t think I’m going to remember this.”
“Because right now, I’m hurt too. I think that’s why we connected like this.”
“I don’t understand.” She said.
“I don’t really either.” He admitted. “I just get the feeling that we’ll meet soon but it’s not time yet.”
“But why did you say that’s why we connected?”
“I think because we're both feeling strong emotions, we could meet in a dream like this.”
“Are you saying you’re real?” She asked awkwardly. “I mean, you exist-” She wasn’t sure how to finish her question.
“One day, we’ll meet when we’re awake.” He said. “I may not remember meeting like this, but if you remember my voice, I think you’ll recognize me.”
It sounded strange to her, but somehow felt right. “I’ll try.” She said a little uncertainly. “I’ve never been great at remembering my dreams though.”
He nodded and stepped forward to embrace her. His warmth spread through her and she felt a deep sense of belonging. Like she had found her home.
Lacey woke in the comfort of her hollow tree. She was safe, most of all in her heart.
The college campus was huge. Lacey felt overwhelmed by it’s sheer size. There were more people enrolled at this college than the total population of the town she grew up in. She transferred here, leaving her best friend Sarah behind, after a year at the local community college. The music program her new college boasted was far superior to her old school, and her new-found talent gave her a burning desire to learn from the best. She had always enjoyed singing, but until her college professor pushed her to perform, her talent had never been publicly validated. As it turned out, Lacey not only had a beautiful voice, but a great sense for rhythm and a knack for playing guitar.
She found the cafeteria, by some miracle, and after buying a meal, sat down to map out her classes. Knowing where she was, she could figure out the rest easily enough. She was focused on her task at hand and didn’t notice the newcomer across the table.
“Lacey?” A familiar voice said, “remember me?”
Memories flooded her mind. A dark forest and a figure in blue filled her with a familiar sense of peace and joy. The voice was unmistakable. Smiling, she looked up to see a face that looked almost familiar. “You remember me?”
“Of course.” He said, his calm, soothing voice tinged with humor. “I had a crush on you from junior high all through high school. I was too shy to say anything back then, though.”
With a series of heavy thumps, like enormous dominoes, her memories all fell into place. “You had a crush on me?” She asked incredulously.
“I thought you knew.” He said. “Remember that really ugly fight you had with Sarah?”
She laughed, “how could I forget that?”
He smiled, “I realized that was because you liked me and at first I was glad. Then I was sure you would hate me after that.” He continued. “I was heartbroken. That’s why I stopped dating Sarah.”
“Matt,” she laughed, “I was mad at Sarah, and we made up. I never hated you.”
“I’m glad to hear that.” Again the familiar voice echoed the dream.
“I think it’s time we had our first date.” She said, gesturing to the bench beside her. “I have a tasty looking piece of chocolate cake here. I think that half has your name on it.”
He sat down and they shared a fork, chocolate cake, and a what felt like a lifetime of memories. Lacey felt a familiar feeling, like she was home. As they talked, their classes; like the cake crumbs on their plate, lay forgotten. Nothing else seemed important.
Good Idea, Total Flop?
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© 2013 Cole Ikerd