She follows the echo, tiptoeing through the forest, navigating through the narrow path between the billowing trees. She pushes through the branches and leaves that fan around her. Pushes through them until she can finally see the clearing to the lake. She slowly made her way down the sandy path, inching closer to the glimmering waters of the lake. She could almost feel his presence. As she gets closer to his heartbeat, the tug on her gets stronger, dragging her down, weighing down on her every step. Whatever rope holding her back, didn’t want her to meet him either. But she kept walking, walking until her legs were moving like rusted gears. Just as she reached the clearing, and heard him call her name one more time, a thought flashed through her head. The sound of laughter. “We’ll always love you.” The rope won her over, tugging her back until she tumbled through the trees. Her hands shot out, clawing desperately at the dirt scattered about her. “We’ll come back for you we promise.” The warmth reminiscent of a kiss blossomed upon her cheek. She clung more tightly to the ground, yearning to reach him. She needed to find him. She heard him calling her name, and her heart thundered in her chest. She struggled against the rope, aspiring to be free. The poignant reminder of the privation she would face if the rope took away all she conquered to get here, encouraged her to pull away harder. She dug her fingers into the ground and pulled herself forward. She must reach him. She didn’t want to look back anymore. He was all she desired.
She lifted herself onto a tree branch, far away from the rope, and looked out. She peered through the bits of space that the leaves forgot to cover up, and wondered why he didn’t come to her instead. She remembered the days, where all she did was cry over how unfair life was. He had been there to comfort her. She use to think of his voice in her head on days when she really didn’t want to wake up. She thought of him on the nights where she lay awake thinking of the future that she ruined for herself. He was there when those people took away her dignity. The simple act of him saying her name had tore her away from the dark moments. When her parents found out that she wanted to go see him, they vowed to keep her away. They punished her and made sure to never leave her side. She felt so trapped and engulfed in a life she didn’t want. When she snapped out of her thoughts, she felt the light tug of the rope on her and she squeezed her eyes shut. “I don’t wanna go back. He’s my only escape. He’ll make me feel happy.” She assured herself. The rope withdrew and she lowered herself off the branch and dropped to the crisp grass and moist dirt below her. She took a breath and proceeded towards the lake.
With each step she took, flashes of memory sprang back and forth in her mind. It’s either him, or the life she knew before. The distance between her and the lake seemed to stretch on for miles. Glancing up at the luminous ribbons of silver etched across the sky, she felt less frightened. The moonlight streamed down, directing a path towards him. The harmonious tweets of birds filled the air every once in awhile. All these little things made her feel like she had chosen the right thing to do. She felt peace in her mind for once in a million years. It was like the war going on in her head had finally ended. Just as she thought that, she felt something wrap around her. She tumbled to the ground. “Please don’t say those things. We care about you. It’s the reason we’re here for you.” She yelled out in agony as his voice seemed to be left behind. There was a barely audible whisper of her name being called. She heard him one more time before she got yanked out of the forest. She hastily tried to unbind herself from the rope. It wounded around her tightly and her breath was caught in her throat. “Stop it. Don’t leave us for him.” She panicked and urged herself to break free. She kicked and screamed, willing the rope to let her go.
After hours of struggle, she finally broke free. She wandered into the darkness and shelter of the trees once again. Finally being free, the sound of his voice calling for her was loud and clear. Her heart was beating erratically. She felt so close to finally getting everything that she wanted. It was in that moment she realized that turning away from everything she once knew was completely worth it. She tore through the aged trees, crinkled bushes, jagged rocks, and every other obstacle in her path. From where she was, she could hear the soft rippling of the water. He was there at the lake waiting for her. She’s never felt such a surge of vitality. As she reached the opening of the trees, her eyes lingered on the lake, a black void, with the light of the moon beaming off of it. Her heart continued to thrash in her chest. The smile on her face widened. Tears began to blotch her cheeks. She was so close to him after all this time. She flew the rest of the way down to the lake. A rush of feeling filled her chest. Her lungs squeezed with something she’s never felt before. Suddenly, the beating of her heart calmed. It was like color flooded back into her life. When she opened her eyes, she saw him. She knew she had finally succeeded. She made her way towards him. She stared into the dark abyss beyond him. He stood there with open arms. A glint of something malicious flickered over his eyes. He gave her a welcoming smile. The devil was he…