A story I wrote for a writing competition in school (that I have happened to have won!) a while back. In celebration of the first papers of the Junior Cert, English paper 1 and 2, being given out this time next week, here's Trapped.
With every footstep came a crunch of dead leaves, and with every breath a puff of white air. Ellie looked up and noticed the maze walls climbed exceedingly tall, and she had never felt more trapped in her entire life.
Dead end after dead end, the girl was grateful it was morning; the night darkness would have heightened her anxiety. The sky was cloudy, but bright, illuminating the fern green hedges of the labyrinth and the earthen floor. Her arms were folded from the icy breeze and she was inhaling the fresh crisp air continuously. She had no knowledge of where she was, or why she was there.
A flash of white caught Ellie’s sharp eye. A spontaneous rose grew suavely out of the leaves. There the branches were thin, and she detected a hint of brown hiding behind the hedge. Ellie let out a laugh, and frantically began to pull and push the leaves away. A pseudo-medieval door was embedded in the hedge. A door, an escape route! Ellie thought.
She quickly pushed the door open, only to find not the outside world, but a circular enclosure of white rose hedges, empty apart from an identical door on the other side, and what seemed to be a person with her back to Ellie.
Ellie staggered into the room, though she did not wish to. It was as if a force dragged her in, her shivering feet reluctantly moved forward. The door slammed behind her, and because that slam was the first real sound Ellie heard in the maze, she squealed and rubbed her ears. The squeal startled the person in front of her.
The person had an auburn ponytail and a slender neck, and wore a black jacket, black trousers and black runners; she was exactly like Ellie. The person gradually turned around, right foot first, then left, and she stood opposite Ellie with her head hanging.
There was a brief moment of utter silence, until Ellie tiptoed up closer to the person. Before Ellie could say “hello”, the head tilted up. Ellie saw her own face, dotted with freckles, and the lips were pale, the nose petite, but, the eyes were different. Ellie was looking at herself, but the eyes were just black. They were each an endless dark hole.
She tripped backwards from the shock and thumped her head into the door. Simultaneously, the ‘thing’ faltered, and also thumped its head. When Ellie’s hand shot up to stroke the back of her head, so did the ‘thing’, the creature’s hand. It was her mirror image, Ellie then realised.
For a slight instant the two stared at each other, then out of discomfort Ellie jumped up. The creature jumped up. Ellie’s head rang from the bang on the door as she once again paced slowly towards the creature. The creature imitated her movement precisely. Ellie tried to lock a gaze with her strange image, but Ellie’s eyes flickered down when she saw the gloomy black eyes. She looked up again; a word, written in black marker, suddenly appeared on the creature’s forehead. The word was ‘FEAR’.
“Fear,” Ellie whispered.
Ellie had lifted her right foot when it hit some sort of invisible shield.
She placed her hands up against the invisible barrier, which was like ice cold glass. She pushed it, and kicked it, and punched it with all her strength. Now, the creature did not copy her. Ellie huffed and gritted her teeth. The barrier circled her tightly; she could not advance in any direction. Ellie felt more trapped than she felt in the maze.
Ellie yelled until her voice grew hoarse, and pounded at the invisible cage until her fists grew red. Once she stopped, she looked at the still creature once again. Now the forehead read ‘ANGER’.
“Anger,” Ellie exhaled, breathless from her rage.
She glanced behind her to observe the door she went through initially, but it was gone. Ellie slumped, as much as she could slump in the confined space. A tear flowed slowly down one cheek. Once more, she raised her eyes to view the motionless, expressionless, extraordinary creature.
‘SADNESS’ was now written on the forehead. The black-eyed creature gawked at Ellie. At long last, she moved. She moved her arms up, pulled up the sleeves of the jacket to reveal more words written on them in marker; ‘anxiety’, ‘hopelessness’, ‘helplessness’, ‘worthlessness’, ‘anger’, ‘fear’, ‘loneliness’.
Ellie burst the bubble of questions that was packed in her brain.
“What are you?”
The creature remained silent.
“Where am I?
“What do you want with me? Why am I here? Why am I trapped? What are the words for?” her croaky voice sped up, single tears turned into a sea of tears crashing down her cheeks, “say something! Anything…” Her voice died down, and Ellie buried her face in her hands. The following quietness was deafening to Ellie.
“What?!” Ellie snapped as her head jerked back up.
“Be happy.” The creature’s eyes were deathly and she was frowning as she pointed at the words on her arms, “these feelings hurt you. To not feel anxiety, sadness, loneliness, you must eliminate them, and be happy…” Her voice was monotonous, exasperating to Ellie. Why wasn’t the creature answering Ellie’s questions?
“Stop! I’m really confused right now, and I don’t know how on earth I could be happy, or how I could ‘eliminate’ my sadness…” Rain began to drizzle down, droplets formed on the clear wall around Ellie. She sobbed.
“Fine, let’s simplify it for you. Calm down, first,” the creature whispered as she stepped closer to Ellie, “breathe in and out until your pulse slows down and close your eyes.” Her tone was less droning now, in fact the voice sounded, to some extent, like Ellie’s mother.
Ellie believed the creature was crazy from its behaviour, but did what she said.
“Now, think happy thoughts.”
“You have got to be kidding me…” Ellie mumbled to herself, or so she thought.
“No, I am not kidding you.” The creature’s face was still lacking expression.
“That is the vaguest instruction I have ever heard,” Ellie said as she rolled her eyes to heaven.
“Being rude won’t help,” the creature remarked swiftly, “I am trying to help you escape,” Ellie’s eyes darted up to the creature, “think about the last time you laughed.”
This is ridiculous, Ellie thought, fed up. However, she made an attempt.
She stood up straight, and dreamed. She dreamed of the moment she slipped in the mud during P.E. in school, and laughed with her friends about it. My friends. Ellie dreamed of the time herself and her family watched and laughed at ‘The Simpsons’ together one evening. My family…
“You’re not alone Ellie,” the creature said, interrupting Ellie’s thoughts. But what did she mean? Ellie was obviously alone right now, the only company she had was a black eyed clone of herself. Although, now, her eyes were brightening up, as if they were windows being cleaned from the inside.
“You’re not alone Ellie. You have yourself too.” The creature paused, “you can escape from this. When you feel sad, you must teach your mind to remind yourself of the life you have, a life that you should you cherish, and of how brilliant a person you are.” The creature’s voice was now laden with emotion and she gave a knowing smirk, “when you feel trapped and have nowhere to turn to, all you need is…”
At that moment the clear wall vanished, the rain drops splattered Ellie’s face, and abruptly she felt arms wrap around her, warmness from another body. Ellie smiled. The creature had hugged her.
The pair let go, and Ellie saw no words written on the creature’s arms or forehead, and the dark eyes ceased to exist. The eyes were as they were supposed to be; a greyish blue. It was no longer a creature, just Ellie’s reflection.
“…Reassurance;” Ellie’s image completed her sentence softly, “everything is okay. You will be okay. Ultimately, what makes you happy is reassurance. Not reassurance from others, but from yourself.” The reflection began to fade.
Shortly, the only thing that stood in front of Ellie was the other door. She did not rush to open the door, but took a deep breath and slowly, and steadily walked up and turned the knob...
I hope you enjoyed!