Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Cave

   As I run along the side of the creek in the dappled sunlight, I can't hear anything but the gurgling of the water and the autumn wind zipping past my ears. I struggle to keep up with Dorian as I dodge large rocks and muddy spots on the ground. Finally, we reach the place where we can cross the river, and I let him go first. A fallen tree that is just wide enough to walk across and not break, but I crouch down as I cross, trying not to look down at the cold river below. My heart beats in my ears as I step onto the bank on the other side, walking quickly from the steep edge that would send me into the river.
   I sit down at the base of a large tree as Dorian climbs into the lower branches, and starts picking at the twigs and leaves on the branch he is sitting on. I look up at him, holding my hand up to shield my eyes from the suns rays as it drops below the trees. 
"Should we go back?" I ask as I begin to worry.
"No, we just got here. What, you  don't trust your brother to find his way back?" he replies, dropping leaves down on me as he laughs.
"Little brother," I say as I wave my hands to swat the leaves away from my face, "And I only agreed to come with you because you said there was, something amazing."
"Come on, Agnes," he tries to persuade me as he climbs down the tree, and starts walking further away from the river. 
   I get up hesitantly, and walk quickly to catch up with him. We go uphill for awhile, the trees around us getting taller and the branches getting thinner as we walk on a dusty path. I struggle to keep up with Dorian's relentless pace as I feel sweat coating my dusty face. He shouts something ahead, and waves his hand at me, and I struggle to catch up with him as I grab at the hems of my skirt so I can walk quickly.
"What? Are we there?" I ask, out of breath as I look around.
"Yes, we just need to go down there," he replies as he gestures to the cliff side beside us.
   I give him a look of shock as I lean forward to look down. There is a small rocky path against the cliffs that leads down the side of the mountain. He grabs my hand and tugs me toward the path, taking a step forward to show me it's okay.
"Dorian, this is ridiculous. We're going to fall," I say as I glare at him.
"Please, just trust me, I'll help you down. You won't believe what is in there," he replies as he grins at me.
"In where?" I ask, worry showing on my face.
"The cave. That's where we're going. Please, just let me show you."
   I reluctantly take a step forward, holding onto his hand tightly as we make our way down the side of the mountain. I try to look forward as we turn a corner, and I see the cave's opening. I sigh in relief as I walk a little quicker, still not letting go of Dorian as we enter the cave. A steady stream runs out of the cave and off the cliff and I take my shoes off and hold them in my hands as I step into the cold water. I follow him into  the cave, and as the setting sun's light stops illuminating the way, I begin seeing countless blue string-like things hanging from the roof of the cave.
"What are those?" I ask quietly as I reach up to touch one, standing on my toes in the cold water.
"They're glow worms," Dorian answers quietly as if talking loudly would disrupt the placid atmosphere of the cave. 
   My eyes widen as I curiously touch one above me, watching as it pulses dark then light again. I lose track of everything else as I walk speechless through the cave, looking around at the beautiful life around me.
"It's like the stars, Dorian," I whisper as I look over at him, seeing a his face silhouetted by the blue lights glowing above and beside him.
"I know. I knew you would like it."
"I don't want to leave, it's so beautiful," I whisper as I look over at him sadly.
   As I continue walking into the cave, I run my hand across the cold stone walls, the water nearly up to my knees. I look ahead, seeing the water slope upward into a rounded tunnel. I pull Dorian along as I nearly crawl up the steep passageway. I reach a large cavern at the end, with a seemingly endless ceiling covered in layers of glowing blue. A clear pond sits in the center of the cavern, and I can see the shallow bottom with the glow from the ceiling. 
"It must be really late, Dorian. Should we go? We don't want to be forbidden from going on adventures again," I whisper, listening to my voice echo softly around the cavern.
"Yes, but we have to come back," he whispers back, tracing lines in the gravel on the ground with his foot.
I turn back, carefully making my way down through the tunnel into the front part of the cave. We walk quickly, admiring the quiet beauty as we wish it a silent farewell. Dorian stops at the entrance to the cave, and I turn around to look at him. He crouches down, and, with a smooth rock he picked up from the cavern, traces some letters into the sand-like gravel.
"Agnes," I read as he stands up.
"So everyone knows that the cave is yours," he says simply.
"Thank you very much Dorian," I say quietly as I smile at him.
   He puts the rock in my hand, which I tuck away in my pocket, and I put my shoes back on my feet. We make it back to the top of the hill, and run all the way down to the river through the skeletal silhouettes of trees. I stop, my legs weak from all the running, and look at the log bridge. I let Dorian go first, and I walk close behind him, trying to keep my balance. I feel the log shake around and see him struggling to keep his balance. He waves his arms in the air as he starts losing his footing on the log, and I panic. I lunge forward and grab him by his shirt collar, pulling him back to stand up. My heart is beating in my ears as I step off the log, still holding onto him.
"You have to be careful!" I exclaim as I walk with him away from the edge, worry still eclipsing all my other thoughts.
"I'm alright Agnes, I just don't want to get home too late. I was trying to hurry," he explains as we walk.
   We make our way through the trees that stretch up into the cloudy sky like towers and creak in the wind. I see the glow of our home up ahead, a beacon in the fog that has set low on the ground, it's tendrils moving around our ankles as we rush through the forest. I slow my pace as we approach the door, and I push it open slowly, feeling a rush of warmth and the aroma of dinner greet me. Our parents greet us and asked us where we went. I close the door behind Dorian as he tells them we were exploring, and they usher us over to the warm fire. Our mother fusses over us as she sees the state of our clothes. I pick up a notebook from the side table and a pencil and open it to the next blank page, and start writing about the fascinating cave.
   I feel a weight in my pocket and remember the rock that Dorian had given me. I walk out of the main room and into my bedroom. I place the rock in my windowsill, and stop to look out of the window. I observe the dark forest that seems endless from my window, and I watch as the wind makes the trees shake. Dorian comes up to my doorway, and I don't turn around, still mesmerized by the strong trees being shaken by the wind.
"Would you like to go to the cave again?" he asks as I turn to look at him.
"Yes. Let's go tomorrow," I say as excitement shows in my voice.
   I wish him a goodnight and try to go to sleep, looking over at the rock, my reminder that the magical place actually existed. As I drift off to sleep, I see the glowing ceiling behind my eyelids as I dream, and await the next adventure.