Maisie sat under the shade of a giant and proud oak tree, standing on the top of a hill of the old cemetery she used to visit in high school when it was spring and summer and warm. The peace and stillness of the place always soothed her, and she was left alone to rest or wander, or dream of the lives of those beneath her feet.
It was late April, but it was already starting to edge to the heat and humidity of summer, and she wanted to return to her old sanctuary, with an old tattered paperback from her youth, before it became to uncomfortable to enjoy being outside.
Up on the hill, and with the plentiful trees, the cemetery was a world removed from downtown and the busy road just about 50 yards away.
The book Maisie was reading was an old fantasy novel from the 70s, about a enchanted kingdom and the evil that threatened it. A brave band of heroes fought the great evil, and after much sacrifice, prevailed, preserving the kingdom.
Maisie still felt a flicker of her old joy at the story, from eighth grade, before the darkness fell, and still had innocence and was naïve, and was so easily carried into other worlds. She still, after all this time, was carried away with the heroes in their desperate fight.
But slaying an evil wizard or a greedy dragon or destroying a cursed object couldn’t end the darkness and make everything happily ever after.
At 25, Maisie was finally beginning to come out of the darkness, out of the worst of her mental illness, and finally begin to build a life for herself. Yet, that illness, that darkness, would always be a part of her, would always live inside her.
Like kudzu that had to be pulled up by the root and burned, metal illness was very difficult to uproot and could always come up again, growing it’s tendrils around her and choking out all light and grace.
There was still a bit of the naïve young girl in her, but the old tales gave hope and not always truth.
Maisie put her book in her knapsack as the sun started to set. It had been a good Saturday, and simple day for herself, out in the world, not hiding in her room or staring at a screen.
Her head was still filled with knights and elven maidens and wonderous places, as she walked home, seeing the patches of woods around her neighborhood almost like she did as a child, full of wonder and magic.
She sat on the front steps off her house, watching the sun fall away and all the stars come out, hoping to make this lightness and warmth last, before the darkness clawed it’s way back to her throat again.