Hero photograph
Photo by Sara Quelch

Moment in time - Solo

Sara Quelch —

By Ruby

Paralysing fear squeezed me tight in it’s vice-like grip.

We walked up an old, beaten dirt staircase into the forbidding forest, surrounded by nothing but trees, dirt, and darkness.

Tears poured from my eyes, like a waterfall over a rock face. I hid my blotchy face in my woollen gloves, being pushed on by the light of the torch, shining it’s way into hell. We walked until we reached a log split in half, old, worn and splintered, and Mrs Silby turned to observe the group. Her seemingly wolflike gaze scraped over us until her glinting eyes set on me. “Ruby,” she proclaimed, “we will put you right here.” The world seemed to slow down as the dreaded words escaped from her lips. My heart pulsed heavily as I stumbled and sat down clumsily on the log, the sharp splinters seeming to pierce my body all over. As everyone was led deeper into the forest, the bright torch slowly and teasingly disappearing, the fear consumed me completely.

Strange, menacing shapes loomed out of the velvety black darkness, threatening to choke me, stab me, take me away. The tears ran faster now, competing to see who could drip off my chin first. My body shook and trembled with each breath that I took, and I did the only thing I could think to do - I hid.

I put my tearstained face in my hands, desperately trying, trying hard to convince myself nothing could or would hurt me. The trees glared down at me, dismissing my cries, as my mind ran overtime, inventing every possible bad situation that could happen .

‘Mrs Silby will forget about us.’

‘Evan will forget to bring us in and we’ll be stuck out here all night.’

‘A wild pig will come and gore all of us.’

I held my breath, trying desperately to hold in my tears. I could hear singing and chatting in the background, until Mrs. Silby told them to “Shhhhhhhh!”

Then there was silence.

The silence was eerily, yet comfortably, peaceful. The only sounds to be heard were wildlife and planes landing. I slowly, tentatively, peeled my hands from my face, and could groggily see the vague outlines of things around me. Everything seemed to slow down a little, and nothing seemed quite so terrifying.

The strange shapes were fallen trees and oddly-shaped bushes. I could hear Mrs. Silby quietly talking to another student.

My toes were sore and numb, scrunched up against the end of my rough-and-tough boots, which I could not move due to my severe case of dead legs. My back was sore, prickling with small sharp splinters from when I had leaned against a tree, and all around me was the scent of pine needles and tree bark. It was a slightly spicy, tangy scent, tickling my nose and making me sneeze a little. I could hear murmuring starting up again ahead of me, and it was strangely comforting, listening to the quiet mumbles.

Then I saw the glorious, hopeful, light of a torch.

As I put the pieces together, I realised I could hear their ‘quiet murmurings’ because it was over! I was done! They were coming to take me out of this hell!

As soon as I began to un-scrunch one toe, a massive, fiery pins and needles sensation spread over my entire body, to the point where it was burning with pain like I’d been poked with a hot needle. The hopeful torchlight was drawing nearer and nearer, getting brighter and brighter, until I finally saw other people for the first time since I’d started! Big, warm hugs and comforting pats on the back surrounded me, and I grinned with pride and happiness. A massive sigh of relief built up inside me and I felt like I’d never been so exhilarated and relieved. I skipped along the track with a spring in my step and a smile on my face.

My mum wasn’t going to believe it!