There’s no comfort in the line

Lynlee Derrick

More stories from Lynlee Derrick

Emma Zawacki
March 15, 2021
Linus Kaechele
February 17, 2021
Theres no comfort in the line

Inches in front of the tip of my nose stands another one of us and another and another. So many that the line never stops. The monotonous grey shirt hangs loosely off his shoulders as our feet land with thunderous noise as we walk down the path. Sticks are stepped on repeatedly and robotically, forgotten by those whose only motive is going forward.

My feet place themselves in the boot marks of those who have traveled ahead of me. Their steps are obvious and worn out like I am. Without thought, my body continues forward as we travel in a snaking line.

As the sun begins to reside behind the towering trees recoiling around us, the spirit of the snaking line fades into the synonymous hums and snores of blissfully ignorant sleep. Whispers leap into the air, carrying stories from those whose greatest crime is passing them on.

Instantaneously, as if summoned by the yearning in my soul, my eyes and ears open as a honey-sweet voice spills into the night sky.

Someone left.

But how?

The voice responds as if it’s in my head.

In the night, she escaped with nothing but the snap of a twig.

Did she too often feel her eyes wander from the ironically lifeless neck ahead of her into the sky, woods, or perhaps into her soul?

As the dawn awakens, the line and our feet move once more. My eyes notice more and more. Simultaneously, the legs in my view move in tandem while the arms sway perfectly. Front, back, front, back, front, back.

Day in and day out, I travel in a line as it is the only way I know. Ingrained in my malleable mind since birth, I must stay on this path. It’s the only way and going against it is unnatural.

Praises of the line’s efficiency, safety, and easy guaranteed success become propaganda as the leaves around me begin to fall with the seasons. Fear keeps me in line. Fear keeps me on the path. Fear keeps my actions leashed.

Yet as the nights blanket me in darkness, the leash is abandoned, and I am more than just another grey-clothed person in line. My mind races through the meadows that tempt me during the day, and it smells like the flowers of opportunities. The ostensible lessons from others float away like an abandoned balloon, and my mind moves on.

It travels to the places my body desires to reside in. From a new point of perspective in my dreams, I am able to see the small fires devouring the surrounding air; however, they aren’t deposited along the wide, obvious path.

Instead, they’re in the pockets of grass scattered throughout the deep, dense forest around us. A glimmer of hope gracefully awakens my senses in the dead night from the dream, and I stand up.

I stand up and turn around to see the millions of others following the same path. I see the millions ahead of me who I am following, too.

No longer will I walk their path, their story, and their hopes.

My feet move with passion now, as they dance over the twigs on the ground that taunt me with alerting the line’s system. Hopeful urges tackle age-old teachings as my own story has been revised and left with an open ending.

With each branch of doubt I push out of the way, I’m making my own way through the trees, inspired by the dim fire-light through the brush.