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 Roads and Ash

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Peaches
Tranie
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PostSubject: Roads and Ash   Thu Dec 10, 2009 11:40 am

The road I see is long, twisting in and about a deserted country-side. Around me, where I stand, are tall willow trees, their branches weeping over me as I hike through their grip. The ground is covered in a low layer of ash, just enough for me to stir it up as I walk. The path isn’t apparent right away; I have to sweep my foot around to find it. As the ash flies upward to my knees, it coats my pants, leaving dusty stains as I walk. The path itself is the kind of path that sometimes you wonder if it ever really was a path, or if it’s the kind of path you fail to notice isn’t really a path, but a notion of your imagination.

As I’m walking, I can see two roads ahead of me. They emerge from the ash, but they are not where my path is taking me. They are well worn, both of them, equally paved and trodden, and I even see familiar footprints. However, the path I travel, I walk alone. The path is a kind of ghost, flitting sometimes out of my sight, leaving me to stand motionless in the ash as it slowly piles higher, until it comes to my knees. Then I walk again, breaking through, ash sloshing over into my boots. It filters through my hands, powdery and soft.

The sky above is dark, as if endless Midnight has stretched her cooling fingers over it. It isn’t too cold, or too hot, but the middle temperature isn’t quite comfortable either. The willows sway in the wind, bending over very slowly, and then sweeping their long arms as though scooping the ash off the path in a moment of pity. They leave spirals in the ash, and it reveals that ghost path. I hear travelers from afar, but they are on another path, in some other time, far away from my endless midnight and thick ash. My lungs grew heavier, slowly, but then I feel reprieve as the wind hits my face, and I suck beautiful, sweet air into my lungs.

I’m not sure why I’m walking on this path, or how long it is. What decisions did I make? Was I always in this ash? Somehow everything feels like an old friend, and overhead the ash spotting the sky, falling slowly, seems like endless stars against the black canvas. It is quiet, and I feel alone. However, it is a peaceful feeling, as though the entire world holds its breath, and I pause. Ash slowly piles higher, but I move my leg, uncovering more of my ‘ghost path’. The farther I go, the more I wonder if I am not lost, or if in the end, I will find a well-traveled path, and maybe meet travelers of like mind. For now I walk farther into the darkness, the ash reflecting light even though there is none to be seen, and I feel alone.
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Tranie
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PostSubject: Re: Roads and Ash   Mon Dec 14, 2009 4:10 pm

The darkness stretched on almost endlessly. I stopped, gazing almost nostalgically ahead. One hand rubs my aching temples, as no light penetrates the dark infront of me. I cannot see, the darkness is as thick as a blanket over my body. It does not welcome me with warmth. Instead, it is cold, but I can't really pay much attention to it. I tilt my head back, searching overhead for any light. No stars penetrate the darkness, and I stand helplessly. The ash piles higher, reaching mid-waist. I don't feel threatened by it though, and soon it stops. I stand motionless, unsure whether or not to push onward. Closing my eyes, I listen into the expanding darkness for any sound to break the silence.

"Hello?" It's an echo, not my own voice. I'm afraid I cannot answer it. After all, they say, so long without another to speak to, you become mute yourself. I manage to croak a response, a rusty little 'Hello'? in reply to this strange call. My hands shake softly in the cold as I feel goosebumps creep up my arms. I don't hear an answer, and fear it is only my imagination. It has played these tricks before on me. I am not of sound mind, as they say. No one truly is, I even less so than most. I lean back into the ash, wishing for it to swallow me whole. I don't understand why, but I do not wish to breath anymore. I sink downward, into the cold, snow-like ash. No one will miss me. No one knows I exist.

Memories come quickly, as I close my eyes. They come in the place of the ritual nightmares, that haunt me at night. I can see the shapes moving infront of me, in the darkness, in the ash that now is slowly covering my body. The man I never knew, who named himself my father by the natural way. The kids in the dark, acting as adults, betraying me slowly. The darkness closes around me because of this. I cannot breath, cannot move. I am dead to the world, to the friends who I thought were true. I am dead to them. The memories turn to dreams, the dreams to nightmares. I am familiar with this. Everything closes in, and I feel a pleasurable numbness in my bones. If this is death, then I welcome it with open arms, if only my past shall escape me. If only I could escape my past.

Stay...in...my...past...
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Tranie
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PostSubject: Re: Roads and Ash   Tue Dec 15, 2009 4:41 pm

"Hello?" The ash is cleared away slowly from my cheeks, my eyes, and my body. Hands slowly brush it away, hauling me slowly upward. I feel like I'm dreaming, eyes slowly focusing onto the figure infront of me. A girl? Yes, a girl. She gives a small smile, as though she's not used to smiling. She seems unsure, but she has a firm grip on my arm. I stare at her blankly, almost like she is someone I don't know. In fact, I do not know her. She does not look familiar to me, but she feels familiar. She slowly dusts away the ash from my clothes, and I suck in the clear breath. The ash isn't cold, but it seems softer, like snow. It's pure white. I gaze at it, amazement clear on my face. She almost laughs at the expression. "What, don't you have a name?"

I manage to say my name, in a soft, quiet voice. "Valkyrie." She laughs, throwing her head back softly. Her slightly curly hair bounces around her pale cheeks. "Such a strange name!" Her voice is full of music, and my eyes widen again in surprise. She is warm, but I am not. I feel almost hollow, as though I do not have what I originally did. Life within me, a heartbeat. I can't seem to find one. I shake my head, wondering if I'm alive or dead. Instead, she begins to pull me forward. "It's alright. We're together on this path. Just follow me."
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PostSubject: Re: Roads and Ash   Wed Dec 16, 2009 2:21 pm

"Path? What path?" I can hear the disbelief in my voice. My eyes flicker to the mounds of ash, and I look at her, thinking she is undoubtfully crazy. She looks at me sadly, almost sympathetically. "Oh dear, the path. You can't see it anymore?" I don't remember anything about a path. I don't remember how I got here at all, actually. Until she pulled me from that grave of ash, I can't remember anything. My name came naturally, I recall. What about everything else? I find a voice in the back of my head, whispering that I don't want to remember. I shouldn't remember, it's not important. The first optimistic thought I've ever had, I think. It's surprising, but even I seem different. Then again, what do I have to compare myself against? Everything before her is a dark hole, and I am afraid to venture within it. Instead, I look up at her, words stalled in my throat.

No time to talk, no doubt. Her hands are strong on mine, and she pulls me along. Her voice and manner is careful, conducted, as though she's almost afraid. I feel like my eyes can strip away everything, to the flesh of her heart. It scares me, and I stay silent, but I follow her. She's safe, she's comfortable for me. She found me, after all. I'll be alright if I follow her. Above, a soft rain starts. The ash slowly begins to wash away, and I can see soft brown beneath my heels. I walk steadily on, and I notice a road. We're both walking on a path for two, and it seems familiar. It's like a sense of deja vu. I have seen this all before, I tell myself, but where?

The trees go from weeping willows to strong oaks, their usually green leaves shade of all the autumn colors I know. Dark crimsons, bright oranges, and soft yellows paint my world a lighter tone. A few beams of sunlight highlight the path, and I notice the trees grow thicker. She looks happy in this darkness of the woods, with only the simple few beams to highlight the way. It does seem nice, a happy darkness that embraces you. It doesn't suffocate me, and I walk unafraid. Nothing bad can happen, I tell myself. Nothing bad can happen. My heart feels it, and I believe it. A smile creeps to my face.

I do not know how long we walked. We talked, and smiled at each other happily. We suddenly came to a fork in the road though. I went left, she went right. We bid just a passing farewell, but my heart was sad. I could hear her voice, soft in the dim sunlight. "We'll meet again soon!" Then she was gone, and I turned deeper into the forest. The darkness crept up, no longer my friend. It's dark fingers grasped at the sunlight beams that grew few and far between. The air began to mist, and I could not see.

"Are you lost?" It was a dark voice, and I could not see through the shadows. I rejoiced naively, as I was not alone. My voice replied, stronger this time. "No, I am following a path." I turned to gaze at whom I spoke with, and he stood there. I felt the soft rays of predatory feeling ooze from his skin, but his grin, although animalistic, seemed comforting. I did not want to be alone in the darkness, and so I smiled. He beckoned me along, and I followed. My foot lost the path in the mist, and I felt danger seep through me. Still, I followed. He lead me deeper, and deeper within the forest.

"Shouldn't we rest?" I gasped out, hearing howls in the distance. They sounded dark, too near, too frightening. I had no strength to move on. He merely smiled, a much darker grin than before. His hands tapped the bark. "You're weak." I felt the sharp stab of the insult run through me, yet it seemed true. He continued to speak, but the words ran together. Only the emotions seeped through. Anger, hatred, tearing insults that kept bringing me down. I gasped in breath, unable to stand. I leaned against the tree. When I looked up, torn to shreds, he was gone. I was alone in the darkness, with no path to follow.
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PostSubject: Re: Roads and Ash   Wed Dec 16, 2009 2:49 pm

I felt blind, but cold this time. The ash hadn't been cold, only frightening as it piled higher. This was much more dangerous. It felt deeper, as though all the progress I'd made had simply been stripped away from me. I had to move, I could hear myself think. I had to move! If I spend forever here, I will die. I grasped onto the tree, pulling myself up. Hopelessness seeped through me slowly, but I could feel the numbness turn to a bit of warmth. If I moved, no matter where I moved, I would survive. The pure natural instinct of survival drove me forward, into the darkness that spread all around me. My cheeks felt wet, and I noticed water. Tears? Yes, as no rain fell here. It was only deep, dark mist. I felt the knot loosen in my chest, and I stumbled on.

I had feared being abandoned for so long. I had been afraid of the path I was destined of as well, but now it didn't seem to matter. I had only been proven right, but I had obsessed so much over being alone that it had simply lead me to be afraid. Blindly, I found myself stumbling along. Something felt warm and solid beneath my feet, although it was not familiar. It did not look like my path, but it seemed to welcome me. The red dirt road slowly welcomed back the sunlight, little patches. Still though, the howls in the distance haunted me like calls of ghost in the night.
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PostSubject: Re: Roads and Ash   Wed Dec 16, 2009 5:52 pm

The bells rang into the clear day, the rain had started falling again. My footsteps fell in the dirty patches, the boots I wore covered in a murky crimson mud that reminded me somewhat of blood. I sledged on, hanging my head in despair. The road only twirled on and on through the endless autumn forest, the bright vibrant leaves falling steadily to the Earth in great piles. Yet still the path that was not mine beckoned me on, and the odd, hollow bells in the distance sang out a carol that called me on. The howls broke in when I nearly strayed from the path, keeping me in place. I walked onward, and the oak's mighty branches spanned over my head as I found my way through the darkness of the forest.

As I walked, my voice trickled to fill the silence. My head raised only slowly as life seemed to fill the empty hollow in the wood. A bright, crimson fox raced across my path as I stopped in stunned silence. A deer gazed at me from the distance, a spotted fawn at her side. The howls in the distance were gone, fading one last time into the crisp twilight light that was covering the little hollow I had found. I walked on, unaware of where I was going. Paths crossed on either side of me, fresh footprints pressed into the colored mud, but I did not step from my borrowed path, nor did I call out to see if someone was near.

Twilight fell to Night, and again darkness covered the land with her cloak. Pinpricks of light shone from holes in her cloak, the stars shimmering as though a guide to a better tomorrow, farther away from my grasp. The forest sounds echoed around me as I moved onward, not stopping to rest although my eyes were growing heavy. I merely closed them, and trusted my faith to lead me forward, or what I had left of it. The heartstrings pulled me along, like simple yarn tugging at my heart. As the night settled softly into her embrace with the Earth, I felt my heart go heavy.

Then a howl broke the silence, close by. I stopped, as still as the air which I breathed, and closed my eyes, quivering quietly in the moonlit night.
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