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M.G.David

The Heir:Darkstone Trilogy

What goes bump in the dark on a snowy night?

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Swish. Swish. Swish. Swish.

The sound of the wiper blades against my windshield was the only sound I could hear as I concentrated on the winding road. Millions of cornflake-sized snow fell from the dark heavens, their whiteness reflecting back the light from my car, making visibility difficult. When the weather is this bad and the weatherman warns everyone to stay indoors, if at all possible, that’s when you listen them. Unfortunately, as a nurse working at the emergency department in one of the major hospitals in the region, I did not have that choice.

As if the blizzard wasn’t enough of a challenge tonight, patients seemed to be coming out of the woodwork the entire shift. From victims of car accidents to hypothermia and cardiac arrests, everyone in the department was kept hopping all night. Then, just as our shift was supposed to be over, a guy having a gastrointestinal bleed came in via ambulance and our busy night turned into a nightmare. By the time I walked out of the hospital doors leading to the parking lot, it was already two in the morning. Three hours worth of overtime doesn’t seem to be worth it after working like a horse the entire shift. I’m sure I would appreciate the extra pay when I get my next pay cheque, but for now, I can’t bring myself to feel good about it.

My car was just crawling on the dark road. At this time of the night, I highly doubt anyone else was brave enough to drive anyway. My eyes felt a little bit gritty after staying awake for almost twenty hours straight now and it wasn’t easy to keep them open. I wish I could turn on the radio but with the weather conditions and driving through the mountain roads, I couldn’t find any decent reception. All I could hear was white noise. Besides, I need to concentrate on my driving or risk falling into one of the ravines at the side of the road.

The falling snow seemed to be tapering off and I could feel myself relax a little. I could see the dark shadows of the forest on the right side of the road a little bit. Suddenly, slight movement from the left side of the road caught my attention, startling me. I felt my hands jerk and the tires skid, making the car fishtail on the slippery road. My heart started pumping faster than it already was during the entire drive. Thankfully, I kept my presence of mind and tried to control the movement of the car by going against the direction of the tires while stepping on the brakes ever so slightly in small bursts. The slow speed I maintained helped me and I found myself stopped in the middle of a dark, winding highway up the mountain. I looked at my rear view mirror to check what it was I saw. Two sparkling eyes reflected back at me from the middle of the road. I squints to see what kind of animal it was. Was that a wolf?

My eyes grew bigger as I got a better view. That is a really big wolf staring back at me. I couldn’t tell what colour it’s coat was, I could barely make out it’s silhouette in the dark road behind me.  For some reason, I could not turn my gaze away from its eyes as they reflected from my tail lights. I was mesmerized by the intensity of its stare. I am not sure how long I stared back, but when it blinked, then raised its head and howled into the night, I snapped to attention and turned my gaze on the road ahead. Something inside told me to just step on the gas and drive away. I quickly glanced at my rear view mirror to catch another glimpse, but it was gone. I tried to look at my side mirror to check if it crossed to the other side of the road and thought I saw a silhouette of a well built man running into the forest. I blinked my eyes quickly to make sure I wasn’t imagining things, but just like the wolf, it too was gone.

Huffing to myself, I continued on my way. I couldn’t wait to get home, go to bed and sleep until this night was over. I must be so tired that my mind was starting to imagine things. Yet, something kept niggling in the back of my mind. A few weeks ago, it was shadows I saw at the side of the road on a foggy night and a passing thought about vampires crossed my mind.  Tonight it was a strangely huge wolf that turned into a man in the middle of a blizzard? What in blazes was going on with me? I must be going insane.

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Shadows

It was almost midnight and a light fog settled on the highway. Every now and then another car would drive by in the opposite direction.

“I guess the weather people were right when they gave that fog advisory,” I commented.

“It’s not so bad,” Scott replied.

I shrugged and went back to playing with my phone.

After a few minutes, I felt the car slow down just a bit.

“I guess there are some patches where the fog is thicker.”

I looked up Towards the highway and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a dark shadow standing at the side of the road, and in the next instant it seemed to zoom across the road. A fleeting thought of “vampire” crossed my mind. I turned my gaze to my boyfriend, but Scott didn’t seem to notice as he didn’t react at all.

“That’s what you get for reading too many paranormal and fantasy novels,” I smiled to myself.

“Did you say something?”

“Nope.”

“Okay.”

The fog seemed to thin out as we drove nearer to the city. Near the exit ramp we were supposed to take, I happened to look up once again. The lights here were not working and the side of the road was a bit dark. Was there another shadow by the light post we just passed? I looked back but couldn’t see in the dark. Just as I was about to turn to the front, something moved in the shadows as we drove further away.

What were these shadows in the night? The first one I saw I could have passed off as my vivid imagination, but to see another one after several miles and actually notice some movement, I’ve got to wonder.

img_0052Could there be something out there that goes bump in the night? Specially with the fog and the distinct absence of the moon in the sky?

Escape

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“I was deceived!!!”

The sound of splintering glass echoed through the hallways following the shriek that came from the mistress’ bedroom. Marcus and I cowered in fear, our hearts running amok in our chests as we crouched low underneath the huge, heavy table. A whimper escaped from my lips.

“Sshhh. She’ll hear you and then she’ll come for you.” Marcus whispered in my ear.

I turned my head to look at my friend and nodded. I could feel the trembling of my body as I huddled closer to him. The sound of the bedroom door opening made my heart skip a beat before it pounded even louder in my chest. The quick staccato of the mistress’ heels hitting the marble floor along the corridor from her bedroom to the main living room made me squeeze Marcus’ hand tighter. I jumped when I heard the main door slam close and then heard the engine of a car start, followed by the squealing of tires spitting gravel. We waited for a few minutes, listening for any sound to indicate that the wicked witch didn’t come back. When everything remained quiet and calm, we slowly crawled out from under the table and looked around. Marcus quickly ran towards the front door and tried to open it. I hurried behind him, vaguely remembering that we both didn’t hear a lock being turned after she slammed the door. The knob turned and Marcus and I looked at each other with wonder in our eyes.

“She forgot to lock the door,” Marcus whispered, “this is our chance to escape.”

Before I could say anything, Marcus grabbed my hand and pulled me. It was cold outside, and the forest behind the tiny cottage was dark and scary. But I didn’t notice, all I could think about was we had to keep running before she came back. I had no idea how long nor how far we ran, but my legs felt like jelly and I could barely breathe.

“Marcus, wait. Marcus!”

“What?”

“We have to stop, I’m tired.”

“We can’t, we’re not far enough.”

“I can’t breathe anymore.”

Marcus slowed down until we came to a stop under a huge tree. We both bent low with our hands holding our knees, trying to catch our breath.

“O…okay, ju…just f..for a bit, bu..but we ha..have t..to k..keep mo..moving, Jean.”

All I could manage was nod in response as I tried to catch my breath. My knees were buckling, but Marcus took my hand in his and pulled me up again.

“We gotta go, Jean.”

He pulled me and despite my legs protests, I ran, knowing that the wicked witch could come back anytime and let her dogs loose to find us. After some time, we reached a stream. Marcus stopped and looked around, then sat on the ground and began removing his shoes. I followed without question, trusting that he knew what he was doing.

The distant sound of dogs barking made the panic rise to my throat as I looked at my friend. He grabbed my hand and helped me up, we crossed the stream in a hurry, then put back our shoes before running into the forest on the other side. The sounds of the dogs were becoming nearer and Marcus slowed down and looked around. He pulled me towards a huge tree and looked up.

“I’ll help you up. No matter what happens, climb up and don’t come down until you’re sure she and her dogs are gone. Understood?”

“But Marcus, who’s going to help you up?”

“No one. I’m going to keep on running and lead them away from you.”

“No! Don’t leave me Marcus!”

Marcus laid his hand on my cheek and looked me in the eye.

“This is the only way, Jean. Remember the cave at the foot of the mountain where we used to play? I’ll meet you there. But, if for any reason I don’t show up after a day. Leave and find help.”

Marcus’ face started to become blurry as tears formed in my eyes.

“Let’s just keep running, Marcus. I’ll keep running, just don’t leave me.”

The dog’s barks sounded louder.

“I promise I will come find you. Now, come on, put your foot on my hands and I’ll give you a boost.”

Once I was safely up high, Marcus sent me a flying kiss before he turned and ran further into the forest. I couldn’t stop the tears from falling down my cheeks as I slowly realized that I was now completely alone in this wilderness and the only friend I had was out there running for his life. Somehow I knew that it would be a long time before I see him again. The sounds of the dogs became fainter as the night turned into day. My only consolation at that moment was not hearing my friend scream or the scuffle among the witches’ dogs when they were fighting over some toy or food. I prayed from deep in my heart that Marcus was safe and that someday he will find me just like he promised.

 

 

 

 

 

Light and Shadows…


A new beginning gives us a chance to explore what lies waiting beyond the visible path before us. The sun will always be there, lighting the way…and though there may be shadows and sometimes dark patches along the way, we will always find the light if we keep on going. 

Don’t get stuck in one of those dark patches. They are necessary trials we face as we tread the challenging path of life. It is those trials that mold us and shape us. Yet, it us up to us whether we become better, the same or worse than what we were before. 

We should just keep in mind that there will be no light if there no darkness. For we won’t be able to appreciate the brightness the light brings if we do not encounter the shadows. 

The excitement of the unknown, as we step onto the path of this new beginning, holds promises of the challenges that life brings. 

Let us face it eagerly with strength and determination… let’s strive to keep going and try to focus on the light. Don’t dwell in the shadows, just keep going on and make this new beginning a start of something wonderful. 

Everything has potential…we just have to find a way to make it great!

A New Year has begun…


WELCOME 2017!!! Goodbye 2016! 
‘Twas a year filled with challenges…yet am thankful for everything. 

It’s those challenges that help us grow into what we are and what we could become as we learn to live life. Whenever I find myself in a difficult spot, I remember a song of worship I learned in high school:

“Thank you Lord, for the the trials that come my way. In that way I can grow each day, as I learn to live. But if you’re hasty to change my ways, to put my human nature down, please let your spirit take control of all I do. For when those trials come, my human nature shouts the things to do, and your soul prompting can be easily ignored.” 

Such powerful and inspiring words…words that have made me strong when I faced the challenges thrown my way in the past year. 

I realize that I, indeed, am still very lucky, because despite all those challenges (of which I am still facing some of the remnants), there are still those whose situation is more dire than mine. Therefore, I should not complain, but instead be thankful. 

So, as the New Year arrives, I raise my glass and cheer. 

WELCOME 2017!!! I look forward to whatever you bring into my life…may I find the strength & patience to face it all. May the coming year be filled with JOY, PEACE and LAUGHTER the whole year through! 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! 

LOST…and now found (The conclusion)

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I raised my eyes to the heavens as I held onto Orein’s head on my lap. The clouds that covered the sun slowly drifted, allowing the sunlight to creep towards us.

Like waking up in a dream, my mind slowly registered what my eyes saw. The way the tree tops framed the sky and how the animal footpath winded underneath the branches pulled at my senses. There was something very familiar with my surroundings. I felt like I’ve been there before. I squinted my eyes and looked around me, my brain desperately grasping at that elusive memory.

“Lady Anya, we should go back soon.”

Shelly’s melodious voice interrupted my thoughts. I looked at her, confusion swirling in my mind. She furrowed her brow, but I didn’t think I had to explain my thoughts to her.

Just as the cloud cleared the way for sunlight to reach us, I looked up towards the tree tops and suddenly a vision hit me. The flash of lightning among the tree tops across the footpath, the loud boom that rang in my ears followed by the sound of a tree falling. Slowly, I lowered my head, focusing on the huge tree right before my very eyes. That’s the exact same tree that supposedly got hit by lightning! My heart began to beat wildly. It stood tall and proud, not a hint of any burnt area was visible.

I looked down at Orein as the truth dawned on me. There was never any storm when I went for a walk. Sure there were clouds in the distance when I left the cabin, but did they look capable of producing a storm? I couldn’t remember. But, the tree was still standing there!

Orein must have somehow created that dream so I would believe him. The dark shadow of betrayal filled my heart as I slowly laid his head on the soft grass. I stood up, my eyes never leaving his unconscious body. I felt the burning in the back of my eyes. My mind was racing, desperately thinking of what I should do next. I looked at Shelly and saw my confusion reflected in her eyes. I had to think smart and quick.

“I’m thinking of how to do this, Shelly.”

“Oh, well, I’m not sure how the magic of the queen’s necklace works. But I think if you close your eyes and imagine yourself back in the Prince’s home, it would take you there.”

“Hmmm…”

I wondered if putting the necklace around Orein’s neck and imagining him and Shelly in his home would take them there, leaving me here. If it doesn’t work, I’ll be trapped in their world once again. And knowing what I know now, it would even be harder to live there. Could I stand being trapped there until I figure another way to come back ?

I could just leave him here, take the necklace with me for protection in case Shelly decides to force me to go with them. But he never really treated me bad, he was always gracious and kind, loving even. The only bad thing he did was take me. I looked at Orein once more, my mind contemplating what to do.

“Lady Anya?”

I turned my head towards Shelly, then looked up at the blue sky. The clouds were all gone, and the sun was shining brightly. I slowly lowered my head and focused on the nymph.

“Shelly, you know I don’t belong in your world. I am not fit to be Orein’s wife because I’m human.”

The nymph didn’t reply, she just looked at me with uncertainty.

“I can’t go back with you.”

“But you can’t leave him here to die. The goblins may come back and Serena will surely kill him because she wants to be the queen.”

“What do you mean?”

“Serena is Lady Mara’s sister and with Lord Orein gone, she will stand to inherit the throne. We have to take him back to safety.”

A vision of a dead Orein brought a sharp pain to my chest but I shoved it aside. Indecision whirled in my mind. Could I just let them worry about their plight? Who cared whether Orein or Serena ruled their world? What would the evil Serena do with the power she wields once she sits on the throne? Could I live with the fact that I would be indirectly responsible for Orein’s demise and the destruction of the entire elven kingdom?

I closed my eyes, the pain in my heart palpable, weighing me down with this decision.

I fell on my knees beside Orein. I laid his head on my lap and held his hand in mine as I whispered in his ear.

“I hope you could hear me even in your present state. It hurts to discover the extent of your deceit just to take me to your world without my consent.”

“I like you, Orein, and I was beginning to develop feelings for you. However, your deception is not easy to forgive or forget. I trusted you…and that trust is now gone.”
“I couldn’t go back with you knowing what I know now. We are from different worlds…of different races. Thank you for taking care of me, but I have to stay here. My family needs me and I am sure they are looking for me.

You are a good guy, Orein, and whoever becomes your wife would be a lucky woman. However, I don’t believe that’s me. There are many things I wished I understood and maybe if we met under different circumstances and you gave me the chance to get to know you and decide for myself, things could have turned out differently.”

“Please let me go, Orein, I beg of you, don’t come back to take me.”

Orein’s eyes seemed to flutter, yet I decided to ignore it. Gently, I gave him a kiss on his forehead before slipping the necklace around his neck. When I turned my gaze to Shelly, her eyes were filled with horror, confusion and anxiety.

“Lady Anya…you can’t do this! My lord will be devastated! He loves you!”

“Shelly, I have to do this and I know deep in your heart you understand why.”

“But…”

“Please take care of him.”

Taking Shelly’s hand in mine, I guided it towards Orein.

“Goodbye, Shelly. I wish you and the rest of your world a wonderful and peaceful life.”

The finality of my decision must have shown on my face because Shelly just nodded before looking at her prince. I laid my hand briefly on Orein’s shoulder and closed my eyes, envisioning him and Shelly at the Prince’s home.

A cold feeling enveloped my entire body and for just a moment a trickle of fear ran through me. I shoved it away.

“Goodbye, Orein,” I whispered, “be well!”

I didn’t open my eyes right away. I wasn’t sure I wanted to see where I was. I moved my forefinger to check if Orein was gone. My brow furrowed because I felt something soft beneath my hand. Did the necklace take me back with them to their world? I could feel panic start to rise within me. I opened my eyes and looked down. My hand was laying on a moss covered trunk of a tree. I smiled to myself.

“I did it! I’m free!”

Joy and excitement filled my heart. I had to hurry home. I was sure my family would be so happy to see me.
The fallen tree was huge and I needed to walk around it to reach the path that led to our cabin. There was a spring in my step as I began to walk, looking at the forest floor to make sure I did not trip on some of the tree’s branches.

The tree must have been laying there for quite some time because some of the branches were starting to rot and the brown pine needles have all fallen to the ground I wondered why it fell and how far I needed to walk to reach its roots.

“Huh!” I gasped.

A feeling of dread replaced my excitement. Somewhere deep inside me I felt remorse and sadness. Tears filled my eyes, blurring the vision before me.

Blackened tips at the end of the tree seemed to mock me from where the tree lay. Slowly I brought my gaze up toward the forest and there right before me stood the bottom half of the tree. The same burnt tips of wood graced it at the top.

My feet felt like jelly as I fell on my knees. All my energy disappearing in an instant.
Tears fell down my face as I stared at the ground before me.

I was wrong…Orein was telling the truth all along. He did save me that day…

The grief that filled me was suffocating and the sobs that racked my body seemed to echo in the forest.

I was so quick to judge. He was nothing but honest towards me and I chose not to believe him. Now he is gone…gone forever.

Something squeezed my heart…

I grabbed my chest…I couldn’t breath.

I gasped…but there was no air to breath in.

Panic was starting to creep in…the edges of my vision were turning black.

I reached out my hand and tried to cry for help but no sound came out…

The darkness was slowly enveloping me…I tried to breathe but there was still no air.

The last thought in my mind was: “Orein…”

I opened my eyes and slowly sat up. I looked around me and was startled. Why was everything in black and white? I rubbed my eyes with my hands and opened them again. Everything was still grey. Did I hit my head when I fell? Was there something wrong with my brain after being unable to breathe?

Something in the back of my mind told me to look down.

The lump of clothing that lay before me looked very familiar. Hair, the same colour as mine, lay scattered at one side of the lump and the shoes on the other side were the same as the ones I put on the day I went out for a walk.

Gingerly, I reached out to touch the lump. There was something inside them. I pulled at the shirt…I gasped! Bones fell on the ground…I flung the shirt away.

Recognition came slowly…

…it was me!

LOST cont’d (part 7)

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The gentle sound of the water was soothing as I sat with Lady Mara under a huge oak tree by the riverside. A gentle breeze blew, rustling the leaves above us like a symphony. The different sounds of the forests seemed to be more pronounced in this world. It was nature’s version of an orchestra, and the main chorale of singers were the birds that sang within the branches of the tree.

“Is it true that elves such as you used to live with us humans in our side of the world?”

“That was a long time ago, Anya, back when peace filled the earth.”

“What happened? Why did you move here? Why can’t you live in our world?”

Lady Mara gave me a small smile.

“Elves deplore war and strife. The world was slowly becoming overrun by greed for power and money. It is disheartening to see what greedy and power hungry people would do to be on top.”

The sudden appearance of a water nymph’s head on the surface of the river startled me.

“Excuse me, my lady. I am sorry to interrupt your relaxing afternoon, but this is a matter of importance.”

“It’s alright Shelly, what is it?”

“It’s Lord Orein, my lady, he is hurt and we could not get him through the magic walls.”

Both the Lady Mara and I shot up from the tree stumps we sat on, our faces etched with worry and anxiety.

“What happened?” We both exclaimed.

Shelly looked at us with sadness in her eyes.

“The goblins were greater in number this time, but our warriors were gaining the upper hand. However, Selina herself appeared and she was casting spells at the warriors. Orein enclosed us with a shield against her magic, but she was too powerful.”

“Who is Selina?” I asked.

“The wicked witch,” Shelly replied, “she is the queen of the goblins.”

“Did Selina’s power overrun my son’s?”

“Thankfully not, my lady. When he realized that he was starting to get  weak, Lord Orein sent her a blast of power which made her and the rest of the goblins disappear. We were all ecstatic and excited to go home. But our joy was short lived because Aaron called for help and that was when we realized that the Prince had collapsed. We tried to get him through the walls, but even our combined powers didn’t work.”

“You have to bring him back, my Lady,” I cried

That was when both Lady Mara and Shelly turned their eyes on me at the same time.

“I can’t”

I looked at the queen in confusion. My hands were clammy and shaking.My heart was beating so fast I could hear the roaring in my ears. A surge of anger and frustration went through me.

“What do you mean you can’t?” I yelled, “you have to save him! Use your magic to get him through the walls!”

Lady Mara looked me straight in the eye. There was a mixture of patience, worry and uncertainty in the look she gave me.

“I can’t, Anya, because I am not allowed to cross the walls.”

“But…but…you are the queen, the most powerful elf in this world. Can’t you use your magic from this side of the wall to bring him back?”

“Child, that is the purpose of the wall, to prevent magic from going through it. It protects our world from the magic of others in the other world.”

“We can’t leave him there! We have to help him! Shelly, you have to bring me to him!”

Shelly gave the queen a worried look and a flicker of uncertainty crossed over Lady Mara’s features before she turned to me. She stared at me intently and I could tell that she was fighting an inner battle.

“Send me to him, my lady. I promise, I’ll find a way to bring him back.”

The elf queen closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Then she carefully reached for a beautiful necklace hidden underneath her flowing robes and removed it from her neck. The pendant looked very much like a burning flame trapped in a crystal globe. The queen’s gaze didn’t falter and this made me twitchy.

“I am putting my trust and the future of my entire race into your hands, Anya, because if I don’t save the life of my only son and the future ruler of all the elves, all will be lost anyway.”

“With the power of this crystal, you could go through the wall and bring Orein back. I would have given it to one of our own, but it could only be wielded by those within the royal family. Since you were chosen by my son, you are one of us. Please take care of my necklace, and bring back my son.”

Lady Mara put the crystal around my neck, the hope and trust on her face fought with the uncertainty she felt.

I was not sure whether I should feel grateful for the trust the elf queen showed me, or be terrified of it and what it implied. However, I could not, in good conscience, let Orein perish.

“I will do my best to bring him back, my lady.”

Lady Mara turned her eyes towards Shelly and gave a slight nod.

The water nymph bowed her head and in a blink of an eye, I found myself in a familiar forest. I looked around and realized that I am back in my world. This was the same forest where I took my walks whenever my family went to the cabin. In fact, it was about a couple of miles away from what I used to know as my family’s vacation home.

A strong urge to run and go home was pulling me. I could see my family once again! Excitement flowed in my veins as the prospect of having my old life back flashed before my eyes. My heart started pounding faster and I could feel my legs itching to go. But before I could turn in that direction, a hand touched my arm. It was Shelly, and she was looking at me with imploring eyes.

“Anya,” she whispered.

Her eyes moved as she slightly turned her head to the right. I followed her gaze and saw Orein laying on the ground, his head on the lap of a wood nymph. He was so still and pale. The sight of him on the ground, so helpless and vulnerable, almost brought me to my knees.

I looked back in the direction of what I once called home, then turned towards where he lay. Indecision filled my heart. Should I run for it and finally be home? If I do, what will happen to Orein and to the world that was my home in the recent past? Could I leave him here to die? After all the goodness he has shown me? If I go, I may not only be leaving him to certain death, I may be responsible for the destruction of an entire race.

A sharp pain hit my chest. My vision blurred and a sob rose in my throat.

“Orein,” I whispered before running towards him.

I knelt on the ground beside him and moved his head to my lap. My tears rolled down my cheeks as I gently touched his cheek with the back of my hand.

“Orein? It’s time to go home,” I whispered in his ear.

I gathered him in my arms tightly and closed my eyes. In the back of my mind I wondered how I was going to take him home. Maybe I could take him to the cabin and care for him there until he recovers.

 

A Salute to the Bravest Woman I Know

via Discover Challenge: Mind the Gap

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My memories of my childhood are ninety percent full of things related to breast cancer.

My mom was diagnosed with this dreaded condition when I was in grade one. Back in the day, the treatment for cancer was fairly uncertain. Everything was in the experimental stages. Being in a country where there was no medical insurance and no health care plans, everything needed to be paid out of pocket.

We lived in a city located in the mountains, and the hospitals there were not equipped to treat patients who needed special treatments. Thus, my parents had no choice but to seek medical attention in a city eight hours away where more advanced hospitals were located. My sisters and I were left under the care of my half siblings, where we did our best to carry on with life.

We saw our parents intermittently in a span of five years. During this time, I heard various discussions about my mom’s condition. Terms such as metastasis, malignant and benign, chemotherapy and cobalt were common at the dinner table. During the last two years of her life, various faith healers came to visit her, trying to ‘heal’ her from her condition, but to no avail. I was too young to realize that Mom was willing to try any means to conquer cancer after being told that it was medically not feasible in her case. Needless to say, she lost the battle five years after she was first diagnosed with breast cancer.

I grew up extremely aware of cancer’s existence. A year after my mom passed away, my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer and a few years later, two of my half siblings were also diagnosed with breast cancer. A few years ago, my half brother was diagnosed with prostate cancer and he succumbed to it as well. So, anything that pertained to cancer caught my full attention. I felt compassion towards those who faced it and showed my support and understanding, offering them comfort when I can.

However, I realized that I had no idea how difficult each cancer patient’s journey was at all until I found myself in their shoes. All the knowledge I acquired during the course of my young life to adulthood failed to give me the whole picture.

The lost feeling you get once the doctor says: “I’m very sorry to inform you that we have found cancer in your beast tissue,” is something I would not wish on anyone. Everything else the doctor says just goes thru one ear and out the other after the word CANCER, because then all the different scary scenarios would start to flash through your mind. Then follows all the things you need to prepare for in the event that you don’t survive this. Finally, you realize that despite all the planning you made in your life, you still aren’t prepared.

Sure, my family’s past experiences about cancer helped me prepare for exactly that moment. I knew right away what treatment I wanted to get. There was never any doubt in my mind that I could fight this; what held me back and made me tink twice was how the people I love would fare during the battle. But it was only after undergoing surgery and going through recovery that I somehow understood how difficult my mom’s journey was.

I remember seeing her in pain when she was already bedridden. She was never one to complain about what she felt. She would wince and moan a little as she carefully moved from side to side. I’d see an occasional tear roll down the side of her face every once in a while, hear her say it was painful. But not once did I hear her say “why me?” Maybe she just didn’t say it in front of her children.

Her journey was ten times more difficult than mine, and I could not imagine how she maintained her faith and her will to fight for five long years.

After I lost both parents and a brother to cancer, I thought I knew what being a cancer patient was all about. Then I heard those dreaded words from my doctor and realized that I literally had no clue. There was a gap as wide as an ocean between what I knew and how it really felt to be one.

I’ve conquered it, and my journey isn’t even half a percent of what my mom’s was because science has made the journey a little bit easier.

However, I can honestly say that I have bridged that gap. I now know how difficult the last five years of her life was and I salute her for carrying on, bearing all the pain and hardships thrown her way.

Someone once said in very similar words : “You’ll never know exactly how another person feels until you wear their shoes and walk in them. “

In my eyes, she was the bravest woman in the whole world… My MOM.

“Thanks, Mom, for holding on as long as you did just to see us grow a little bit more before it took you away.”

LOST cont’d (Part 6)

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“Orein! Orein!”

My hair was plastered on my face as raindrops showered me with its huge droplets. I moved through the trees with increasing speed, it didn’t matter that I could barely see where I was going because of the darkness that surrounded me. It was nighttime and being in the midst of a forest made it seem even darker.

Every now and then lightning would flash a bright, white light which penetrated the dense branches of the trees around me, allowing me a glimpse of my surroundings. I could feel my heart beating fast in my chest as I continued running.

“Orein! Where are you?”

Suddenly, I saw the flash of lightning right before I heard the loud cracking sound above my head. Before I knew what was happening, the swishing sound of falling branches as they hit the other trees reached me.

I could hear my mind screaming at me to run for cover, yet my body was frozen in place as I watched the dark shadow of the tree slowly falling towards me. Images of my mom and dad flashed before my eyes, followed by images of my brother. They were all grinning at me, and I could see the love they had for me in their eyes as they gazed upon me.

“This is it. I’m going to die here in this forest and I’m never going to see them again.”

The dark shadow loomed over me and I waited for its heavy weight to crash down on me. I was sure it was going to hurt, but my body seemed to be rooted in place and all I could do is watch and wait for death to come take me. I closed my eyes tightly and hunched my shoulders in expectation, oblivious of the rain pelting my whole body, drenching me. I knew the fallen tree reached me the moment I felt the heavy weight on me as I fell to the ground.

Was that it? Was I dead?

I couldn’t be, because I still felt every stone and twig on the ground that bit at my back as I lay there. I tried to move, but the weight on me was too much. I wiggled my fingers to check whether I was still alive, but I couldn’t feel them either. I couldn’t move any part of my body! I felt trapped! A horrible thought ran through my mind.

“Oh, my God! I must be paralyzed! I must have broken my back when I hit the ground.”

I tried to scream, but no sound came out. Panic rose in my chest as I frantically tried to move. My breaths started to become short gasps as I desperately clamoured for air.

“Anya! Anya!”

That baritone voice was so familiar, but it sounded so far away…

“Wake up, my beauty!”

It was the light tapping on my cheek that caught my attention.

“Open your eyes, love.”

My eyes fluttered open and I found myself gazing into the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen. I could easily drown in them if I wasn’t careful. I felt his finger move the hair away from my face as he gazed at me. I furrowed my brows at the worry I saw in his eyes. The memory of the tree crashing on me came back and I looked around with a start. I was in my bedchamber, laying in Orein’s arms as he sat on the side of my bed. I looked back at him and realized that his face was close to mine.

“What happened?” I whispered. I felt his arms move tighter around me as he began to speak.

“You were having a nightmare and I heard you from my room. When I got here, you were moaning. I realized you were dreaming and I tried to call your name to wake you up. Then you started to thrash your head and started crying. I panicked and took you in my arms, hoping I could somehow wake you, but you started gasping for air and I didn’t know what to do. I tapped your cheek and that was when your eyelids fluttered before you woke up.”

“Oh! It felt so real.”

I shivered at the memory. I didn’t know what else to say.

“What was your dream?”

I inhaled deeply, slowly gathering my thoughts before I started to tell him all about my nightmare. It was a relief to realize that it was not real as I relived the events. Once I was done, I noticed that there was uncertainty in his eyes before he looked away.

“Orein?”

He let out his breath slowly before he looked back at me.

“I am not sure how to tell you this, my beauty.”

My heart started to beat a little faster.

“What is it?”

His arms gathered me closer before relaxing his hold.

“It wasn’t just a dream, love. That was what happened when I rescued you in the forest.”

I gasped.

Memories of that day started trickling back. I remember looking up into the sky as I stepped out of the cabin. There were dark clouds in the distance, but I convinced myself that I would be back from my walk before the storm hit. It slowly dawned on me that it must have caught up with me as I got lost in my thoughts during my walk. And I finally realized the enormity of it all. If he didn’t take me with him, I would have died in a horrific way. I looked down at the hands on my lap as I twisted them together.

“Thank you, for saving me again from that tree.”

Orein gave me a confused look. Beneath my lashes, I peeked at his face.

“I thought for sure I was going to die under that tree tonight. But, here you are again, saving me from being squashed by its giant limbs. So, thank you. I am just realizing now how you have saved my life by taking me back to your world.” I sighed.

“I’m sorry for being difficult when I first wake up here, Orein.  I promise, I will try harder to adapt to your life here.”

Orein wrapped his arms around me tighter and kissed the top of my head.

“There is nothing to be sorry about, my beauty. I completely understand your actions. I’m sure it isn’t easy to be snatched away from the life you’ve always known and dumped in another world that is full of strangers. But it brings me joy to hear you say that you are willing to try to like living  here.”

We stayed like that for I’m not sure how long. He started to move to get up from the bed. I laid my hand on his chest to stop him. I could feel his heartbeat beneath the hard muscles hidden under the cotton material of his top. I caught his gaze as he looked at me.

“Please don’t go yet. It’s nice and comforting to have you here after such a horrible nightmare.”

A small smile started to form on his lips. He kissed me on my forehead before sitting back on the bed. This time, his back was on the headboard as he pulled one of his legs up and under me.

“Okay, I’ll hold you until you fall back to sleep before I leave.”

I sighed and laid my head on his chest. The sound of his heartbeat comforting me. My eyes were already half closed when a thought struck me and I lifted my head so I could see his face.

“Wait. Where have you been? I haven’t seen you around for awhile. You didn’t come home for more than a week.”

He gave me an enigmatic smile.

“I’ve always come home, love. I checked in on you every night before I went to bed.”

“But I didn’t see you,” I muttered petulantly as  laid my head back on his chest. He held my head close to him, his thumb moving slowly up and down my cheek as he spoke.

“My duties required me to leave early, but I was always back late a night. I could have stayed away, but I found myself eager to see you even for just a moment before I went to sleep. Your presence soothes my soul, Anya, in ways even I don’t understand.”

I tried to lift my head up, but he held it gently but firmly close to him.

“Ssshhhh….it’s late, love. Go to sleep. We can talk some more in  the daylight.”

The movement of his thumb against my cheek and the rhythmic sound of the beating of his heart lulled me to sleep. Being in his arms, feeling safe and secure brought a smile to my lips as I got lost in oblivion.

(photo courtesy of US Forest service)

 

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