No one even noticed she was gone. No one but me. She was bound to die at some point, as all of them do. But not like that.
Not when she did. Every so often I visit her grave deep in the Mynde, a forest so black and twisted no light has ever graced its floor. It is endless; one could walk for days before losing all hope and dying in its desolate grasp. To be honest, I couldn’t even tell you where in the Mynde she is. All I know is to follow the narrow path carved out from the years and years of journeys. No one else has ever traveled it and never will unless I lead them.
My right foot lands on the thin wispy grass and my vision is filled with blueish-gray light. The light has no source; it just is. Fog gently blankets the open field and a hundred feet in the distance, I can barely make out the solitary figure of a child atop a tombstone. I turn around to see the black mass of trees so dense it forms a wall as far as the eye can see. Not sure what I really expect to see in there. Turning back around, I advance towards the figure about a hundred feet away. A soft cacophony of voices fills the frigid air and the grass somehow doesn’t bend beneath my weight but feels like a damp shag carpet under my bare feet. The Child, dressed in a faded maroon polo and plaid skirt, faces away from me into the horizon, as still as Darkness itself.
I plop down on the ground beside her and stare with her into the mist. “One of these days,” I sigh, “I’ll have to stop visiting.” She never responds. Just turns a dull kitchen knife over and over again in her fingers. I always expect it to be bloodied since the Child appears disturbed enough to do it one of these days. “You know, I’ll never forget the day you died,” I whisper, running my fingers down the rough curve of the tombstone. She continues to gaze worryingly into the distance. I know she’s not really here but I’d rather imagine that she is. When I dwell too long on the truth, the field begins to fade from my vision and the woods scream in agony. Without this place, where else can I go?
The Child passed away violently almost a decade ago. One night, the pain of the World became too great, prompting the Darkness to take her innocent neck in its clutches and choke out whatever life was left in her. The Darkness is unpredictable yet relentless. Sometimes it leaves a whole body in plain sight, other times it scatters pieces in the untouchable regions of the Mynde. I was lucky enough to find all of her lying in the rain a few years after her death.
The Child and I sit together for what feels like a fraction of a second before I suddenly appear back outside the Mynde, my vision filled with the black woods. Each time I visit, I run the risk of being untimely ripped out from the field and back to the World in which I am damned to live. So many problems, so many emotions, so much stimuli. But there in the forest of the Mynde, at her gravesite, all by myself, I can forget it all.
The following journey, I notice that the only figure in the distance is the solitary gravestone. Terror floods my veins, propelling me at a pace I had never before gone, “Hannah!” I call out, “Hannah! Where are you?” She won’t call back—why do I even try? I reach the tombstone and look out through the fog to see the silhouette of a weeping willow and the Child sitting underneath. In all my years of journeys, I had never discovered this expansive part of the graveyard.
My heart rate slowing, I steady my heavy breathing and approach her. Hannah sits on the very precipice of a darkened abyss. Looking into it makes me dizzy and I rest myself down beside her.
“Why do you come here?” she asks. She doesn’t look at me but I can feel her eyes on my face.
“I don’t know,” I reply, “Guess I want some closure with the Hannah that they took away from me.”
“It happens to everyone, you know.”
“Well, yeah, but you were murdered, Hannah. You and I both know that. No one even attempted to revive you! They ignored you out of the fear of losing those which they deemed more important than you and there is no excuse for that!” My angry voice echoed loudly into the chasm, my last six words receding into the unending blackness.
“And how will reminiscing help fix the past?”
We sit there in silence as a child’s giggle drifts up from the abyss. Enraged tears cloud my vision but I blink them back. “I just miss those days. When you were happy-go-lucky, optimistic, care-free. What angers me is that it could have been that way for a few more years had they faced the situation. I remember the countless times you called out to them knife in chest, bleeding your heart out on the pavement and they ignored you. Bullied to the point of death. We were there in the car together, remember?”
“Of course. How could I forget it?”
“I saw your body, Hannah. I heard your labored breaths. I felt the Darkness come in the blink of an eye and take you away from me. I…” Fresh tears streamed down my cold paled cheeks, “will never forgive them for that. I come here because your death is the only connection I have with the Hannah I once knew.” At this, she turned to me with lusterless eyes.
“But you have so many other things in life, Hannah. Why look back at a past you cannot change when you can look forward to a future you can shape?” With that, she looks back out into the distance, still twiddling the knife in her hands.
I close my eyes.
I hear the screams.
I open them.
I stand in the World and the path through the Mynde no longer exists.
Goodbye, Hannah. Don’t miss me too much.