My Torch

A woman's head in profile outlined in flame., “Follow the path,” my guide told me as he took me through the dark woods.

“What happens if I stray?” I asked.

“If you leave the path, you’ll die.”

Sharp stones cut my feet. Branches caught my hair. Thorns striped me with blood.

“This path doesn’t seem very safe,” I said.

“If you leave the path, you’ll die,” he answered.

Shadows stalked me and predators nipped at my heels.

“Light this torch. The fire will keep them at bay,” he said.

I did as told and watched as they cringed back from the flame, but could see the single torch wouldn’t last long.

“Is there another torch?”

“No.”

“Will we get to the end of the path before it burns out?”

“No. We must move faster.”

We ran. My skin was torn in gaping wounds by the perils of the path, but I kept running.

“How fast do I need to run to get through safely?” I asked.

“You can’t run fast enough,” said my guide.

“You tricked me! Why am I on the path at all?”

“If you leave the path, you’ll die.”

I stopped running.

“Then I die no matter what I do. Why should I bother?”

“You must keep running,” he said. “If you don’t, they’ll catch you.”

I did not run. I found my own path and the woods were my torch.

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