The girl had a dream last night and when she woke her heart ached. She didn’t know why and at the same time, she did. She remembered. 

As long as she could think back, she never really knew how she got to the forest. She had guessed that she hadn’t always been here, but nothing told her why. She thought that she knew because of the dreams.

The dreams were more like flashes of another — in some ways, an alternative — reality. She saw things like dark parts of the forest she knew she’d never set foot on. She saw blurry scenes from a village, kids running around chasing a ball. She had seen the wolf-leopard-bear that stalked her, attacking someone, but knew somehow that it was to protect her. In another dream, she saw herself in a dress, sparkling against the vast waters she looked upon, shimmering in the sunset. A beige temple, seemingly empty. These were the images that came to her every night while she slept. And so, over time, she began to expect them and sometimes ask them to point her towards guidance. 

Many nights, the moon caught her tears when the dreams wouldn’t answer or would show her other things. She wanted to know why she was alone. Was there someone searching for her? But the dreams didn’t work like that.

Then one night, last night, she seemed to drift into another world for a long time. She saw people who laughed and talked to her. Touched her on the shoulder. Seemed warm and close. And in this world that she had never set foot on in her waking life, she felt as if she belonged. 

The dream was one of those that felt so real. She could taste food offered at parties. She could run her hands over the smooth fabric draping sofas. When she touched something she could feel its essence, pick it up in her hand and know it as real. 

As she woke, it was a jolt. This was the forest again. How long had she been here? 

Here in the forest, she was unable to cry. She felt breath leave her. She felt as though a deep crack had broken her heart into something that could never be as it was. She stared at the ground in front of her, fixated. Unmoveable. Sound echoed in her mind — voices from the other world calling as she sat somewhere in between.

that wasn’t real?

But it was. And that is what made it so painful. Something that had given her such joy was gone. As she woke up, she realized it wasn’t her mind making up things to entertain her or pass the time. No, this was a forgotten memory from deep within. This was true. And it hurt her deeply to realize what she thought she had forgotten and what she had lost. 

She stared at the damp ground of the forest not knowing what to do. And instead, she was stationary. She felt vaguely sick to her stomach— what had happened to her? Why was she here and not there?

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