When I was a child
I found a gate.
I was a bullied child, and solitary.
(Isn’t that always the way?)
It was a winter day, impossibly bright
As only winter days can be.
I was out behind the school.
(It was Saturday. That was why, really.
No other kid would be there to bother me.
On weekdays there might be other kids here
Who would bully me
If I tried to play here.)
There was snow on the ground.
The puddles of slush on the parking lot
Looked like deep, cavernous lakes of ice.
There was a mulberry bush
I called a blackberry bush
That gave up sweet fruit in the late spring
And a rock
As tall as I was
That we made believe was a mountain.
Between them there were trees
A woods too small to be called a forest.
The bushes bent into an arch
And the arch stretched into a tunnel of branches.
Through the arch I smelled spring.
Flowers, and grass.
Anything really – in the cold you can’t smell.
Warm air wafted on my face
And I knew what this was.
I was reading the latest one of Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series, and I got to the point where the child goes through the gate, and I realized… that could never have been me.
My mother really was disabled – she had fainting spells, and then she had hypoglycemia, and then she had diabetes – and I’d felt it was my responsibility to take care of her since I was four and she was crying because my grandfather was in the hospital. She also probably suffered from anxiety and was known to flip out from terror because I got on the wrong train.
For obvious reasons, no one tells the story of the child who doesn’t have the adventure because they have responsibilities at home. So I decided to. It’s a lot shorter than the story of the child who had the adventure.
It’s interesting that the protagonist assumes the portal is something *good*.
I went down a path once. Like yours, it wasn’t *quite* a forest, but the path was lined with trees and smaller plants. At the end of the paved path, what looked like a desire-path bike trail stretched off into the distant fields, leading who-knows-where.
It was…*peaceful*. Incredibly so. The trees shook in the breeze, and the leaves fluttered across my vision with different shades of green on each side, and the sound of their rustling brushed against my mind.
There was power there. It hummed in my bones, resonated through my soul.
I did linger. I let the power flow through me. Once.
And then I left, and I swore never to return. Because I know how that story ends, and it ends with me getting kidnapped by the Fair Folk. I’d walk out onto that narrow path, called by some ineffable compulsion, and never be seen again.
That’s not how I want my story to go.
#*knocks on wood* #in which Brin tries not to become an erotic-horror protagonist #(…I never quite make that explicit up there in the main post‚ do I) #(I guess I can’t think of a good way of doing it) #(probably an important part of the context though) #reply via reblog #storytime #fae #sexuality and lack thereof #abuse cw #kidnapping cw #this probably deserves some other warning tag but I am not sure what #[epistemic status: Pascal’s Wager]