Into the Shadows

Creative Writing |
explore your shadow side to find yourself

As she was walking through the forest, she suddenly found herself in darkness. Just one moment ago, it had been a day as sunny and bright as could be. She had felt the soft earth under her feet. She had heard the birds singing their most beautiful summer song. She had seen the lush green leaves dancing in the soft breeze. She had tasted the juicy berries in her mouth. She had smelled the flowers blossoming between the trees.

Now it was all gone. Night had broken the day, as dark and chilly as could be. Other things had come forth. She felt spiky small sticks under her feet. She heard wolfs howling longingly into the night. She saw shadows moving between darker shadows. She tasted rotten fruit in her mouth. She smelled decay rising from the ground.

She closed her eyes but behind her eyes, it was even darker. She stood still, clinging to herself with clattering teeth, crying in self-pity. Left by her strength and courage, she sunk to the ground. Her eyes still closed, she put her hands over her ears and waited until daylight greeted her yet again. It came suddenly, just as night had come.

She did not know how night had left and how day had taken her place. But she did not care to consider it. She just wanted to begone from this enchanted forest. Yet, even in the daylight, she could not find a path. Hopelessly, she wandered through the forest for what seemed like an eternity. Soon, she felt just as weak as she had during the night. Again, she sunk to the ground and wept for her ill fate.

“Why, child! Are you lost?”, a voice croaked right next to her ear.

The child jumped and took a few steps back. In front of her stood an old woman whose skin was as wrinkled as the trees’ bark around them. She wore a cascade of rags and she grinned with only three teeth left in her mouth.

“Leave me alone, ugly old witch!” The girl tried to hide behind a tree.

The old woman laughed heartily. “An ugly old witch I might be, but I know the way to the deepest part of the forest.”

“Well, I don’t want to know the way deeper into the forest, I want to know the way out of it.”

The old woman chuckled. “Are you sure about that? There must be a reason you came to this forest in the first place. If you reach the deepest part of the forest, it will gift you with the power to know every way, every plant and every animal in this forest. It will give you the power to reign this forest. You will be queen of these realms.”

Angrily, the girl stepped out of the shade of her protecting tree. “You are trying to deceive me, witch! You are trying to test me and hurt me and make me suffer.”

A wicked smile deepened the old woman’s wrinkles. “That is what they always say when say are afraid of becoming powerful. You choose your path, little girl. You can scream, and you can fight, you can cry, and you can blame. In the end you will see: You will never get out of here unless you reach the deepest part of the forest and find the knowledge of all the paths and reach the power to walk them all. The more you are trying to escape, the more lost you will get.

Suffer you will, oh yes. But you will also find the cause of your suffering, and you will end it.”

“Where is this path then?” The girl crossed her arms in front of her chest with a stern face.

“Look closely, child. It is best seen when the light is gone.” The old woman turned to go.

“Wait! How am I supposed to see the path when the light is gone? I only trip and fall.”

“Oh yes, trip and fall you will many times. But there is no other way. You have to walk through the shadows to find the light.” The old woman limped away from her.

“One more question, old witch! I don’t know when it will be night. For all I’ve seen, night and day come whenever they want.”

The old women stood still and turned around to her. A glow lay on her face. “Oh child, you will not like this. Night and day don’t come when they want. They will come when you want. You have to summon the shadows to find the way.”

With that, from one moment to the other, the old woman was gone.

The girl was devastated. Like a deer in hunt, she ran through the forest with her eyes wide open and her ears alert, while her feet were torn open, her tongue bit and her nose bloody. Just as the witch had predicted, the more she ran, the more lost she felt.

When all the energy had left her, she sat down. She closed her tired eyes and stopped listening to the sounds around her. She withdrew all her senses, feeling, tasting and smelling nothing for she was too weak.

Slowly, she sunk deep into this nothingness, where she suddenly saw herself. She saw herself sitting in this enchanted forest, hurt and lost. Then she realised that she was hurt and lost because she had run away. It was herself, bringing suffering onto herself.

So, she opened her senses and got up.

“I summon you, shadows, so I can find my way to the deepest part of the forest.” Her demanding voice rang through the forest. Sure enough, night fell upon her.

She looked closely. A small light caught her attention. She walked towards it and found another small light. Many small lights were glowing ahead of her.

Rejoicing, she followed the lights for they showed her the path to the deepest part of the forest.

Again, just as the witch had predicted, suffering lay upon her path but this time she did not run away because she knew that she would only get lost again. She learned and grew with every suffering.

By the time she reached the deepest part of the forest, she knew that there was no path out of this forest. This did not upset her as she did not want to leave the forest ever again. She did not summon the light for she did not see the night anymore. The shadows had cleared away and left a blank slate in front of her that mirrored her back to herself.

In this mirror in the deepest part of the forest, she saw the woman that she had earlier called an ugly old witch. Yet, this time, the woman seemed beautiful and wise. This did not surprise her since the path had shown her the beauty in everything. The path had taught her that all was a reflection of herself. The path had told her what she really was.

Thus, a little girl discovered that she was the queen of the forest. She knew every path in the forest and she had the power to reign this whole realm. For all the had to know and reign was herself. And that self she had found in the deepest part of the forest. She had found that she was the forest.