“Briars & Light”—a short story

I was lost in what seemed to be miles and miles of thick, overgrown woods all around me. Somehow—I could not recall how—I had entered into this maze of vegetation, and I had wandered so deeply into the middle that I could no longer see any light. After wandering seemingly in circles for hours on end, I collapsed on the ground, too exhausted to pay any attention to the bits of pine needle in my tangled hair, and the scrape on my shin that was bleeding.”I can’t go on any further,” I said to myself.

A tear rolled down my cheek, and it stung. I felt where the stinging sensation had happened, and I found a scratch on my cheek. The saltiness of my tears had irritated the wound. 

I curled up in a ball under a tree, and sobbed. I prayed. “Father, get me out of this, please.”
I finally picked myself up off of the ground, and kept walking, in hopes that my feet would take me somewhere, anywhere, away from this awful place. I walked on and on, dragging my limbs, though I barely had any strength left. No, I would try to escape this wood, even if in the endeavor I would die without any progress.
Then, suddenly—could it be true? No, surely I was hallucinating; I had not eaten in days, and I was exhausted… I was ill, and imagining things. But I thought I could see a faint light in the distance.

I ran.

I tripped and fell many times, and covered myself in bruises, but it did not matter to me. I approached that light as fast as I could. I was nearly prevented many times, approaching many obstacles, but somehow I overcame them all—a rushing river, mud that I feared would swallow me up, wild animals whose eyes glowed menacingly in the dark—but I found a way past them all. And at last, I came to that beautiful light. 

Golden evening sun-glow shone in rays through the overgrown trees. I felt the warmth of the light—it contrasted starkly with the cold atmosphere of the wood. Beyond this wood, where the sun shone brightly, was a clearing. I had to get to that clearing. The very sight of the glittering rays and the rolling hills beyond the trees was irresistible. But at the edge of this wood, before the sunlit plains, I began to notice thick briars, thorns and vines of many kinds that blocked my way to freedom. I wanted to fight through the tangled mess and step into that golden world that lay behind it all. But I stopped and began to doubt that this freedom was even possible.

“Look how thick these weeds are,” I said to myself. “I’m already so injured from everything I’ve blindly brushed up against. I can’t get through this.”

“But… so what if the weeds are thick and full of thorns? I’ll be free. Freedom is worth the pain.”

So I ventured up to the thorny brush and tried to break the weeds away. It was possible, but they poked and stung my already raw, worn hands. As I cleared a path, the thorns caught on my hair and clothes and tore them, and scratched my skin so that it sometimes bled.

Fed up, I stepped back. “I can’t do this!” I yelled with frustration.
Then I looked behind me at the endless, black darkness. I shuddered. No. “Freedom is worth the pain,” I repeated to myself, and attacked the thicket again with full force.

And at last, I broke through, and collapsed on the grass outside the wood. At last, freedom. It was worth the pain. It was worth the patience, the perseverance, the crying out in tears of agony and frustration, wondering if the anguish would ever end. It did. And here I was, on the other side of it. And I would never enter it again. Despite my lack of strength, I forced myself up off of the soft, green grass and ran far, far away from that wood until I could no longer see it on the horizon. I had found freedom, and I was going to flee even the memory of being lost.

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