The dark wood seemed to have no end. I was lost. Nightfall had come too soon, too soon to find my way out. No stars or moon were visible beneath the canopy of dense leaves, no star to guide this lost ship of the soul. I walked on, not knowing if I was embedding myself further into this world of black or inching closer to home.
Perhaps I should have stayed put until dawn, but the air was cold and I feared freezing to death, my body lost forever to the mouths of hungry wolves. For surely their kind here must be here. And what other beasts, real or imagined, may be roaming this terrible night? Watching and waiting, prowling and stalking.
Leaves rustled and twigs snapped; was that breathing I heard too? Foot steps, I’m sure, close and closer. My heartbeat grew faster; I could feel its thump in my chest and then hear it as arteries beat like drums in my neck. I walked faster, gripped by terror. Could I walk this hell all night, or would my body give way and yield to whatever fate may lie in store?
I smelt damp leaves and damp bark, and the scent of unknown flowers. These were my senses now, sight and sound, as blindly I stumbled on. Then I sensed a new sound, a new smell, a different taste in the air. I must be near home! A cool breeze replaced the still, refrigerator like air of the forest. I surged on in hope as shadows followed in my wake.
Certain now, not much further; the sky began to lighten in gaps between the leaves. In joy I reached the edge, the shore beckoned. As tears flowed, I tasted their salt on my tongue, reminding me of home. I staggered down the beach and slid into the surf, and then dived into the crystal blue. I had found my way home!