I rolled back my neck in a feeble attempt to take it all in, but the shimmering metallic tower was too tall to perceive. “What are you?”
This -- this was like nothing I ever seen before, and I was more than familiar with these trails. These hikes were like a Xanax for me. After every single panic attack, since high school, I have explored this forest, which has added up to more non-work/school time in the forest than everywhere else. Panic attacks were the way I related to world. And yet, despite all this woodsy exposure, up until that day, my most majestic woodland spotting was a mother helping a newborn deer take its first steps, which was pretty significant for me. But this -- this was something else. Something that kept me tongue tied and stupid.
Standing next to it, I was nothing more than a speck of dust. I was just a girl, my singularity emphasized by nineteen years of timid experiences. I had nothing in my life to prepare myself for something unworldly. Or at least it seemed unworldly with it’s one, majestic aesthetic. Two, sudden appearance. And three, my fantastical impressionability. I mean, I walked down these woods just the other day and there was nothing here but forest.
My black hair wrapped around my neck like a noose. I kept scratching the back of my scalp, nervous tic, as I followed the sun’s beaming rays, pointing towards a metallic door. I was small, frail even, scared and stupid, stupid, stupid. For no rational reason at all I needed to know what was inside.
Pushing the metal door open with my bare hands, I yelped and jerked my hand away. “Fuck!”
The radiating burn centered around my palm and went up my arm. I groaned once and then groaned again. The burn was painful but what hurt even more was the pressing reality. I really hoped that I was dreaming, but that hurt too much to be a dream.
I choked on my breath as I looked up, into the sunny sky. I wanted to run back to my parent's house; I wanted to snuggle in my space where everything was calm and quiet. But, as I remembered what the next day will bring, I felt a contradictory pull towards the tower. For my family, the following day, was a day of mourning.
First, my Aunt died a sudden death, defiling my home.
Then, this out-of-place tower tripped up my woodsy sanctuary.
Without the safety of what I knew, I went with what I wanted to know. I figured that walking right into my panic was a new self-destruction, and that gave me a little joy. El -- myself -- has been such a nuisance lately. The panic attack that brought on this hike was brought on by my first year of college. Like clockwork, it ended without me making one friend. El’s timidity is the thorn of my existence. I figured I could give her some payback and actually learn something. For that brief moment I thought I could handle knowledge.
I said a little prayer, covered my palms with my sleeves, and opened the door.
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About the Author
NK Layne sees the world through queer brushstrokes, infinite rainbows, demonic cartoons, gory afternoons, and a veil of moss.