When the girl was young, she liked to play the disappearing game. She played often, usually when the house became too small and the air became dense with words that tasted like hatred in her mouth. She would slip through the white backdoor into the woods, walk until she felt suitably lost and her feet ached.
As she walked, she became The Adventurer.
The Adventurer did not fear the woods. She looked on to the endless hills rolling before her, the forest of pine rising around her, and felt the tightness in her chest loosen. Wonder filled her and she wished to see what was over the next hill, behind the next tree. Out here, where all was quiet, her spirit was borne on the warm breeze that stirred the pine needles. Free. The world was at peace, with only her and the forest in it. She waltzed, weightless, through the undergrowth and marveled at the dense foliage around her until she tumbled into a clearing. The Adventurer chose a tree with sparse branches, lied down in the bed of soft needles beneath it, and stared up through the tangle of boughs at the exquisite cerulean blue sky. As she stared at that unending blue The Adventurer needed to feel a different kind of brave.
So she became The Warrior.
Where The Adventurer had the kind of fearlessness that comes from unending curiosity, The Warrior had the fearlessness that pumped through the heart of a lion, wielding the calm found in the eye of a hurricane. She drew her sword against monsters and planted herself in the way of armies. Her battle cry, a deep bellow, let loose from where it was trapped inside, harmonizing with the blood call of the bugle. It was all fury and defiance and the demand for something more. The Warrior had fearless friends that fought by her side. They had taken up arms against enemies. Fought together. Bled together. Killed together. Laughed together. Cried together. Together they expelled evil and cruelty and hate.
The Warrior rose from her lounging position on the ground. With a new sense of courage coursing through her veins she began the long trek back home. As the white door came into view, she swung it open with the bravado of The Adventurer. But her borrowed confidence wavered when she passed the threshold.
Here, between these walls, she was not The Adventurer.
She was not The Warrior.
She was simply The Girl.
A small and insignificant person scared of the walls and the people they caged. The Warrior’s armor fell to the ground and shattered. Her fearlessness was swept away in the wind. Standing plain and vulnerable in her living room she’s reminded of why she wanted to leave. She can’t escape now that she’s back. The sun is slipping beyond the horizon.
The Girl retreats, unnoticed, into her room, curling into the cave she’s made around her bed from draping blankets. She plucks her book from its place under her pillow. The Adventurer grins wildly at the new frontier looming from the pages in her hands. The Warrior laughs at the danger ahead, knowing her friends are standing stalwart by her side. Together they know that they can get through anything.