She didn’t care if people passing stared at her as she tried to control the sobs racking her body. Tears poured down her face despite trying to suppress the unrelenting despair coursing through her. It was a terrible day to end all terrible days.
She’d burst from her apartment without thought to where she was headed and found herself on a park bench trying to control her breathing. She wiped her eyes and nose on the sleeve of her hoodie, trying to pretend she didn’t see some of the unkind glares being aimed at her by other park-goers.
After taking a few deep, steadying breaths, her mind began to numb. She felt exhausted and wished she could trade in her life for someone else’s, not wanting to return to the reality waiting for her at home; the sanctuary that was no longer a refuge. She wanted to be someone else, somewhere else, a place not here and now.
She shivered as she hugged her hoodie closer, finally rising from the weather worn bench, placing one foot in front of the other without intending to go anywhere at all.
She trudged on in a weary haze, barely cognizant of the direction her feet were taking her. She passed through crowds of people and the occasional dog, people busy living their lives, enjoying the park around her, but she barely saw them. Everything was blurred and unreal.
Someone brushed up against her, but she barely reacted and continued on in a walking stupor. It took her a few paces before she registered the new weight in her hoodie pocket.
She stopped abruptly, looking down at the front of her hoodie as if seeing it for the first time. With a tentative hand, she reached into her right pocket, feeling for the source of the unexpected weight.
From its depths came an object the size and design of a large marble, but it glowed with a pale green light and emitted a tickling warmth to her fingers as she held it.
She reached into her pocket again, having felt something papery when it should have been empty, still staring at the unknown marbled object in her hand.
She unfolded the paper to find writing scribbled in an unexpectedly elegant hand: Swallow this tonight before you sleep. You’ll find your troubles in another place…
She read over the note again in confused confirmation of its contents. She returned her gaze to the glowing object in her hand, puzzling over it, but only for a moment.
She would normally have questioned such oddities as a mysterious object being placed in her pocket with a note to swallow it and the promise of troubles essentially being dreamt away. It was too good to be true, and the world was too terrible a place to offer a balm so kindly. But staring at the marbled item, as it began to pulsate in her hand, she threw caution to the winds and began walking home.
She didn’t care if it was early for bed, evening was at least blooming around her as she shakily let herself into her apartment and she blindly stumbled to the bed. She stared at the empty mattress and how big it looked with no one else in it to greet her.
She crumpled to the bed, trying to breathe through the gut wrenching moan trying to claw its way loose from her throat. Lying on the mattress, she stared at the still pulsing, green marbled surface of the mysterious object in her palm.
Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and shoved the item in her mouth, swallowing it a second later. It was oddly warm when she placed it on her tongue, a warmness that trickled down her throat and into her stomach as it went.
She kept her eyes closed, curled up on her side on the large bed, waiting for sleep to take her, hardly caring what state she might awake in. She imagined she could feel the sun sinking down past the window of the third story apartment and she slipped into slumber in between her swirling thoughts.
She woke from a dreamless sleep to the sound of leaves rustling and a gentle breeze playing through trees. She opened first one eye then other before sitting up and staring around her in wonder.
She was in the middle of a field of the brightest blue flowers she’d ever seen, surrounded by a ring of trees marking the forest beyond. The trees were large and stately, reaching gracefully towards the sky. The shafts of light illuminating the forest gave it a welcoming glow; it was a place begging to be explored.
She stood with only slight misgivings, looking around at the unfamiliar wood. She couldn’t remember how she had gotten here, where she’d been, who she was, or why her eyes felt so tired, but her heart was throbbing within her chest, growing the smile on her face with every beat until she beamed like the rays breaking through the canopy of leaves.
She felt lighter than air as a laugh escaped her smiling lips and rode the wind through the forest. She hesitated only a moment more before plunging through the flowers and between the trees, eager to explore this beautiful world around her where trouble was too unwelcome to bother lurking beneath the sun dappled leaves.