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Original Lost

#1
I wrote a short story for a good friend of mine, and I thought I would share it with you guys to see if anyone had any critique. This is one of the hardest pieces I have ever written. I feel like my description is weak and that I focus on dialogue too much, so I tried to write a story that had very little dialogue in it. I tried to use the best words to convey the story and feel of it, so in many parts, it's a very technical piece. I really struggled to get the detail in there, so I hope that everything came through. This is also very metaphorical, so every decision I've made, I made with a purpose.

It would be great if you would let me know that you've read this. I'm not looking for comprehensive reviews (although that would be great, haha), but a comment saying that you read it and telling me what you thought of it would go a long way. Without further ado...



Lost

I trudge onward. The scent of pine hangs thick in the air as I continue looking onward in my dead gaze. The fog prevents me from seeing far, but there’s not much to look at. The only shadows to emerge from the fog are trees, that’s it. That’s all I ever see. A thick trunk comes into view, only to disappear behind me as three more come to replace it.

The only sound to keep me company is the constant crunching of the pine needles beneath my feet. The constant rhythm of my feet that signifies I’m still going. I don’t know why, and what for, but I keep moving. It’s all I do, and it’s all I’ve ever done. Well, at least all I can remember.

If I focus really hard, I can remember a house. Inside the house, there’s a family, and the family would laugh and play all day. Suddenly, someone started crying, the broken pieces of a toy airplane scattered across the floor around them. Everyone else stops what they’re doing and rush to the aid of the crying kid. They try everything to get the child to calm down. Eventually, the kid stops crying, and the playing would start up again. Then, a door, the front door, slams shut, and all I see are trees. Just tree after tree.

I don’t know where that story came from, but it’s the only thing in my mind that’s different from the landscape ahead of me. So, I cling to it. If it’s a memory, I question why I left that place in the first place. If it’s a vision, I guess that’s my destination. If it’s a dream, a figment of my imagination, then why am I out here at all?

I mull over the questions in my head. I’ve thought about them for ages, but no answer ever comes. Heck, I don’t even know when I started thinking about them. I can’t remember the past. All I have ever done is wander through these woods. There was no beginning, I don’t think there’s a middle, and I don’t see an end. It’s just a circle of the same old thing. It’s like someone just put the song of my life on repeat, and is just letting the same verses play over and over again until the entire song is just a blur in the mind.

It’s funny, one would think that I get bored. I know it’s not exactly exciting wandering the same woods for an eternity, but I never do. I guess you don’t know any better when this is all you know, your entire existence. I never feel bored, and in fact, I never feel anything. My heart is as gray as the fog surrounding me, masking anything that strays too far from the center. There might be a rush of adrenaline when I accidentally trip on an exposed root, but that quickly diminishes, like the root, back into the fog.

Since I have nothing better to do, I trudge onward. A tree to my left, a tree to my right, it’s all the same to me.

“Hey!”

I pause, scanning my surroundings. Did I just hear something? It was faint. Perhaps the breeze simply howled as it passed through some branches. No. It definitely sounded like someone else. Like someone else is out there, in the same spot as me. I continue to strain my eyes, trying to look for anything through the fog. I curse under my breath.

Not again

It happens. I zone out into my thoughts, and my mind makes up a sound, just to snap me out of it. I can’t believe I fell for it again. Then again, it sounded so real. Maybe, just maybe. No. There’s nothing out here. There’s never anything out here in this god forsaken place. I kick a pile of pine needles away from me, anger building up inside of me. I guess I can feel something, at least.

“Hey!”

There it is again. That shout. Did I imagine it this time? No, it sounded too real. It was a lot clearer… and a lot closer! My eyes once again dart up and start looking at any shadow, hoping for any sign of life. My heart starts racing, the shout has never come twice before. I don’t know what to do. Nothing ever happens here, but that might change. Does it have to be this moment? What if I’m not ready? Wait, I’m definitely not ready.

Before I have a chance to run, a shadow begins moving. It was faint, like the first shout, but the figure slowly became more defined. The first thing I realized was that it wasn’t human, it was much too tall. The two horns curving above his head added even more height to the gargantuan beast. As it came closer, more details began to appear, like the shaggy brown fur that covered its body. Then, the creature’s long arms that scraped against the ground as it walked. A stark contrast to the beast’s short legs. Finally, a face. One eye looked at me as the creature grinned, showing off all of its teeth.

“Hey there! I haven’t seen another person in forever!” The monster said.

I stay silent. I stare at the creature in front of me. I want to be scared, but nothing stirs inside of me. Nothing tells me to run, so I don’t.

“Are you lost, kid?”

“Yes,” I say, an answer escaping my lips.

I furrow my brow at my response. Why did I say that? I’m not lost. I’m just walking. Being lost implies that I have a destination, but I have none.

“Well come on, I know where you live!” The monster exclaims. “Yeah, it’s right over here.”

The monster heads off in the direction he appeared. He paused on the edge of my vision and signaled for me to follow. I hesitated. Why was this creature helping me? I didn’t have another plan, so I followed. I see tree after tree pass us as we continue walking through the fog. Doubts start filling my head. How can it tell where we’re going? What if I really am lost? I look around for a possible escape route. I’m not sure how fast the creature can run, but I’m sure it’s much faster than I can go.

“We’re here!”

I look ahead of me to find an absence of trees. A clearing stretches out in front of me, but the fog prevents me from seeing very far. Soon enough, a house starts to appear. A corner, a wall, and eventually a porch. The wall stretches far past my head, soaring into the unknown sky. I can’t see the top, but it has to be at least five stories tall. The porch, entirely made of marble, greets me as I walk up the stairs. The monster reaches two stained glass doors, looks back at me for a second, and swings them open.

The creature takes a step inside and gestures me to do the same. I stand in awe at the foyer in front of me. A fountain in the center of the room shoots water high up into the air. On the far end of the wall, a grand staircase rises up as far as the fog will let me see. Paintings featuring a wide display of art line the walls from head to toe, and a giant chandelier dangles from the ceiling, casting its light all over the impressive display.

“Welcome home, kid.” The monster says, lifting his arms and inviting me to take it all in.

“Wait, this is mine?” I ask.

“It certainly is! All of this belongs to you. The swimming pool, the bowling alley, even the roller coaster is all yours.”

I take a step back. This all seems overwhelming. The sound of the water splashing bounces all over the room with nothing to soak it in. I look over at one of the paintings and notice the dust collecting on the frame with no one to take care of them. This place doesn’t even smell different than outside. The same, dank smell covers every inch.

“And what if I refuse?” I ask.

The monster pauses and slowly turn towards me. “What?”

I take a couple steps back. “This is great and everything, it really is, and I’m grateful that you’re offering this to me, but what if, by some chance, I don’t want it?”

The monster bursts out laughing. “Don’t want it? Why would you not want this? This is everything you could have dreamed of and more!”

“Exactly!” I say, “This place in enormous, much too big for me. The more I look at everything and realize just how big it is, the more I realize how empty it is. I don’t want a place where I can hear my own echoes to remind me that I’m all alone. I want a place just right for me.”

“Look, kid. I don’t know who you think you are, but I know you, and you belong here.”

I take a couple more steps closer to the door.

“Don’t do it, kid. Don’t force me to keep you here!” The monster yelled, moving into a crouch.

I turn and run for the door. I hear a roar behind me and turn around to see the monster leap forward and come bounding towards me on all fours. I scream as I reach for the door handle. I swing the door open and leap down the steps, not checking to see how close the monster is behind. The field stretches before me as I continue running. I can hear the monster closing in. Finally, the edge of the forest comes into view. I can feel the hot breath of the monster on the back of my neck. I close my eyes and leap for the brush. As I’m in the air, I look back to see the monster’s outstretched hand start to clasp around my ankle. I yank my foot away as I land in the brush. I close my eyes as sharp sticks and pine needles scrape against my skin until I come sliding to a halt.

I wait for the monster to grab me and start dragging me back to the house, but nothing happens. No sounds reach my ears. I open my eyes. The trees surround me like they had always done before. I sit up and look around me. The clearing was nowhere in sight, and neither was the monster. The only sound to keep me company was the sound of my own breath. I was back in the middle of the forest, lost and alone, like I had always been. The only difference was that I knew it.

I start to cry. I don’t know exactly why, but I do. I wail as I lean against a nearby tree. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of wandering around forever, seeing nothing but trees and this blasted fog. I start to think of what I left behind. I bet I’ll never get another opportunity like that again. I can’t believe what I turned down. I want to stop, but the tears kept running down my face with no signs of stopping anytime soon.

“Now what are you crying for?”

I jerk my head up. My eyes grow wide as another monster looms before me, its two eyes looking directly at my slumped figure. I gasp and frantically scramble around the tree.

“Hey, wait!”

I run as fast as my legs can carry me. I don’t check to see if the monster is following me, I just keep running. I can’t see where I’m heading, but it doesn’t matter. I’m not taking any more chances with anyone. The only thing I can hear is my heart pounding. Suddenly, I fall to the ground, an exposed root catching my foot. I stand up, clutching my knee. I continue to limp forward when a wall of rock blocks my path.

When I turn around, I see the monster. I let out a small scream and press hard against the rock.

“Whoa there kid, calm down. I’m not going to hurt you,” The monster says, approaching with its hands up.

“Stay back!” I command.

The monster stops, “Okay, okay. See? I stopped. Happy now?”

I slowly nod.

“Now what’s a kid doing out here all alone anyway?”

I burst into tears, slumping into my ball like before.

The monster takes a step back. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you cry or anything.”

“I’m lost,” I say.

“Ah, that could do it.”

The monster takes a couple steps closer. I look up, but don’t protest against the monster’s steps. This one seems different. The monster continues walking forward until it’s standing right beside me, where the monster slumps down on one knee and sits against the rock. I sniffle and wipe the remaining tears away from my face.

“Sorry,” I say.

The monster turns to me. “For what?”

“For crying. I didn’t mean to.”

“That’s okay. Everyone needs to, I guess.”

We sit in silence against the rock. The fog surrounding us, keeping us together. I can hear the monster breathing. Just a little while ago, I was traveling alone without a thought in the world. Now, there’s a monster sitting beside me. I didn’t know anyone else even existed.

“Why did you follow me?” I ask, breaking the silence.

The monster takes a breath and pauses. “You know, I’m not sure. I hadn’t seen anyone for the longest time, and it wouldn’t have been very nice of me to just leave you alone when you were in such a state.”

“I met someone else besides you a little while ago.”

“Really? What were they like?”

“I… don’t really want to talk about it.”

“Yikes, that can’t be too good.”

“Yeah, it wasn’t.”

We sit in silence once again. I look out at the trees surrounding us. It’s probably just me, but they look a bit fuller than before. I don’t know what it is about them, but they might even look a bit greener too. The monster stands up all of a sudden, making me jump a little.

“Well, are we ready to head out?”

“What?”

“Oh come on, you didn’t expect to just sit here for the rest of eternity, did you?”

“I, well… I don’t know what to do.”

“You say you’re lost, right? And when you’re lost, you have a destination. You might not know where that destination is, but I can guarantee that there are people there waiting for you, and it wouldn’t be very nice of you to make them wait a second longer than they have to.”

“I guess, but I don’t know where to go. I’ve never known where to go.”

“I don’t think that really matters, quite frankly. One way or another, you’ll get there. Now come on, we’re not going to get anywhere sitting around.”

“Wait, you’re coming with me?”

“Of course, I wouldn't be much of a friend if I just let you leave, and by the looks of things, you need someone with you.”

I stand up and step away from the rock wall. The trees and fog envelope me once again. I look to my right to see the monster shambling along the side of me. I smile. I never thought I would appreciate someone else’s company, but it actually feels pretty good. Having someone else sure won’t make finding my destination any easier, but it just might make the journey bearable. I nudge the monster with my arm.

“Hm?” The monster grunts, looking over at me.

“Thanks”
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