The Road and the Green Glow

I was alone.

Long ago, I was blanketed by laughter, play, and friends – before the shelter was stripped away without warning. Now I stood on a barren road, skeleton trees lining the path – too thick for escape. The sharp wind of their laughter cut me, drawing blood.

Left, in the dark.

Cold.

Aching.

Lonely.

I walked, searching for sanctuary. Gradually my skin grew thick, insulating me from the bitter chill of their stares. I found a shield lying next to the path and strapped it to my chest, armor against the daggered barbs thrown at my heart. Boots, discarded carelessly in the mud, protected me from the dangerous obstacles tossed into my path.

Night never set; the path traversed the ends of the Earth where light hid from the dark. The sun would tease me, a glow lighting the horizon, before the blackness returned.

Sometimes I had to stop, an invisible barricade preventing movement forward, and sit – the wall of trees my only company. Then one day, crunch; sunglasses snapped beneath my foot. Out of place in the world of black, I bent down and retrieved them. Confused but curious, I placed them over my eyes.

Light shone from the sky, transforming the colorless world around me into an exploded canvas of brilliance. In awe I continued, hopeful – still a prisoner upon the path, but no longer coated in darkness.

I persevered forward as the road behind me vanished from existence.  Stubbornness fueled me; I refused to believe another path did not exist to a better place.

An eternity passed: two years.

Finally atop one of the many hills, a small path cut through the trees – away from the road.

Excitement quickened my cadence. I pushed through the trees as branches scratched my skin.

I didn’t care.

The path dead-ended above a set of stone steps leading to a secret room. A green glow emanated from within, beckoning me to enter.

I raced downward, ignoring all caution. The cave at the bottom was small and damp. Undeterred, I flew forward, a moth to object in the corner emitting the green light.

I sat before it in awe, reaching out with eager fingers as they clicked upon the surface.

Toes tucked beneath me, the glowing cloak wrapped around my body; I sought warmth in the frigid cavern. Blanketed in green, my fingers moved faster and faster, my words viewable in the backlit box.

The path led to this magical portal, a window to another life. It opened me to other parts of the world – no longer restricted to the unending road where I’d been imprisoned.

It was a detour I never could have predicted – nonexistent a few years ago.

It led me to others, trapped as I was. Others like me, who enjoyed the same things I did.

I was still alone, still a prisoner, but I would never be lonely again.

A Red Dress Club writing prompt

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

This week’s Red Writing Hood assignment is to write – fiction or non-fiction – about a time when you took a detour. Where had you intended to go and where did you end up?

Your word limit is 600.

This is nonfiction, written about two years of my life: from age 12 to 14. It is sort of a “part 3” of this saga. Part 1 was The Gift of 5 Minutes prompt, and part 2 was the ugly/beauty prompt with Beneath the Water. I’m told reading those sheds much light on this post. If you want. Or not. Thanks for reading this one.

Constructive criticism greatly appreciated: This is very different from most of my writing. Did you understand it? Follow it? Were you drawn in or completely lost? What could I have done better?

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About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos (www.writingwithchaos.com) sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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26 Responses to The Road and the Green Glow

  1. Tiffany says:

    Since you asked, this was different. I may not be the best person to say, but I felt lost reading it. It was intriguing still to read because it has a bit of mystery to it.

  2. Frelle says:

    the aching loneliness you write, the soul deep pain of it.. you do so well at being so descriptive with it. Making it beautiful even though it’s so sad. And it’s so descriptive it does take on mystery, it’s clouded, obscured. But I’m so feeling the emotions along while reading. Does that make sense? Evocative and beautiful storytelling.

    • Thank you, Jenna.

      For a long time, I was a “spoon feed everything to the reader” writer and I’ve gradually learned they don’t need that, and don’t want it. This was an experiment to see if I could entertain and draw in someone, even if they have no idea what is going on – or if they could discover what it was.

      The goal of this piece was to feel. I’m glad I succeeded.

  3. Galit Breen says:

    Okay, GF, this was such a sad, emotional post with such beautiful language in it! I felt this poor girl’s desperation and wanted to reach out and hug her!

    I will admit to comment eavesdropping and going back and rereading the other 2 in this series and it all clicked together for me then; the metaphors made even more sense and I felt everything even more deeply.

    Maybe add links to those in the post and send everyone that route?

    I still want to reach out and hug your main character! 🙂

    • I added the links within the post, based on your recommendation. I didn’t want people to feel they have to read my older prompts.

      I’m glad you did read the others: it’s good to know with the back story my metaphors make sense. 🙂

      Thanks for the hug. She/me greatly appreciates it – as the green glow (not so green anymore) continues to give me something I don’t have in my real life, just in a different way.

  4. Kir says:

    when I read it last night, I thought “HUNGER GAMES” ( I never read those books, but this is what I imagined) and I liked it. I saw the progression of you finding the internet, your writing, your “tribe” in the last few posts and I really liked it.

    It might not be my choice of post, but in writing style, it’s wonderful. You are so talented. 🙂

  5. It’s a very interesting post because it’s really a metaphor. I know because it’s your story that it’s about escaping the mean girls from high school. But it could also be a story about being trapped at home as a stay-at-home mom and finding other mothers online.

    • That is why I love metaphors – they can apply to whatever situation gave you that exact feeling.

      I have “real life” friends now, but many no longer live anywhere close to me, and most do not “get” my writing. The internet is a way to connect with both.

      You’re so right about finding other stay-at-home moms too, because they “get” our life.

      I’m glad you found solace and friends here as well.

  6. This is an intriguing piece. I liked it and enjoyed the details you brought in.

    One thing I was thinking while I read it was that the sunglasses feel like an important part to the story. I feel like that’s where the story really begins. The other details of finding the boots and the shield are really good, but can be casually mentioned while building the rest of the scene.

  7. Sara says:

    I enjoyed the mystery of this story. It was fun to read because I didn’t know what you were doing or where you were going. I just had to tag along and see what happened next.

    I was glad she found the sunglasses and then the slight path that lead to the cave, which in turn helped to find those like her.

    It is a wonderful metaphor for being courageous enough to step away from the “chosen” path and find your own. It’s funny my story this week, The Dance, is similar, but in a different way.

    I enjoyed this…thanks:~)

  8. Leighann says:

    Kelly!!
    You Rock!!!
    So well written.
    Your words are perfect.

  9. I don’t know if you have ever read them, but this piece reminded me of the Dark Tower series, which is essentially one man’s journey through several different lives/lifetimes. Addressing this piece as it stands alone, I would say that it was the magical realism that kept me reading. Your descriptive writing is quite strong and I could see the world she was trapped in. I actually thought at first that the narrator was an animal, and then I thought she was dead, caught between life and afterlife and then I thought, oh! she’s escaping her world through an actual magical portal. It wasn’t until you said after the piece that this was non fiction that I got it.

  10. Since we tweet scifi, that’s where my mind went at first. I’m glad I hopped back to your Ugly/Beauty post to catch a bit of where this started from. Since this was non-fiction, I think I needed that knowledge.

    My absolute favorite part was the sunglasses providing light, colors, and sight in the surrounding darkness! I think you should play with this more, extending the story, maybe even playing with your non-fiction story about this time in your life and molding it into a full fantasy or scifi fictional story. It would be grounded in an emotional reality with a fanastical story! :>

  11. I really love the way you did this.. and so easily related to by soooo many people. I admit I was a little confused at first, but it came together really quickly and really well. Great job!

  12. Ruth Fanshaw says:

    It’s a strong analogy with some very powerful imagery. The emotional world of the character came through strongly. Yes, I was drawn into the story. 🙂

  13. Of course I loved this. Loved the showing rather than telling. I also love how well this translates/relates to so many lives.

    My question is about the use of light and dark. It had my head turned around for most of the story. “left in the dark” (left alone unsheltered, i get) and yet “night never set” (does this imply this journey seemed never to end? which also makes sense but not in the same story)And the sunglasses providing light….again just strange. I don’t read scifi so I’m usually quite literal so perhaps I’m not thinking broadly enough.

    I’m sure I could say more, all positive, with more brainpower.

  14. Yes! I get it! I love it!
    Hugs and hugs and hugs

  15. Sara says:

    I’m so glad I read this and then took the time to truly digest it. There was such rich imagery here that I need to sop it up slowly. I love the pace of this, slow and careful almost eerie and then excited, fervent and flush with passion.
    I really enjoyed this and liked it even more when I gave the details the time to meld in my brain that they begged for. Great and rich piece.

  16. Lauren says:

    I loved the irony of only being able to see colors once you put the sunglasses on. The imagery was wonderful and the message positive. To me, it meant to never give up hope no matter how bleak some days may seem.

  17. Amy says:

    Nicely done! I like the metaphor of this because it could fit anyone’s life at various times. The show instead of tell is really good too! 🙂

    P.S. I was here once before, but then Darling Girl had a meltdown and I had to close out. So I’m back and finally commenting!

  18. Katie says:

    I like how you are working with an extended metaphor here…and to echo what others have said, it is a universal metaphor: that of the dark path.

    I did read your previous posts, so I knew what specifically you were referring to, but readers don’t need that to relate to the post and to find themselves on that path.

    I like that.

    Some of your descriptions got a little murky and hard to follow, but I am glad I kept going because like I said, over all? It was a lovely piece!

  19. kris says:

    As someone who never ever links back to a previous part of my story, I was disappointed to see the links back to other posts within the body of this post. I like a post to stand all on its own . . . a reader who has been with you for a while will bring more to the reading experience, but a new reader should be able to read the post without a sense of needing the backstory.

    So . . . This post stood on its own.

    For me, it did. I have read the other posts to which you refer, and this post stands alone. That said?

    My editing fingers would urge some tightening up of language in a few spots. As Katie said, your imagery got a bit muddled in places. Danced off in too many directions.

    But as a whole, the piece worked.

    Even with the gaps.

    I like gaps.

  20. Jessica says:

    I agree with Katie and Kris, I think this is a stand alone piece and you do not need to spoon feed the reader with links. I think leaving it to their imagination is part of the beauty of pieces that have a bit of a fantasy feeling to them like this one does.

    I could tell you wanted the reader to feel what you were feeling and you did it so well. I did get stuck in a few spots. Sometimes I think less words make sentences even more powerful. Overall? Amazing job. You keep getting stronger and stronger.

  21. CDG says:

    Editing-wise, I think Katie and Kris have touched on the salient points. Personally, I appreciate the metaphor, although it took me a while to understand it in the context of the other parts of the story, which are far more memoir-like.

    I am confused, however, to the shield and boots, and the sunglasses. They seem to have tremendous import, but I don’t understand how they translate in the metaphor. Especially, since while the boots and shield clearly function as they ought to, the sunglasses seem to function in exactly the opposite way.

    Applause for taking this to a new place, for trying out a new style. It’s hard, and it scares the crap out of me!

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