Story: Lost

This is an ANXIETY story – how imagination can escalate your fears.

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Idris had often been warned about the wood. A tale was told of Morgan who had set off for a journey and although his horse returned, he was never seen again. Another story was of spirits haunting the wood at night. Idris knew they were only tales, told around the fire and that it was easy to find a direction by the position of the sun.

On the day that Idris ventured into the wood, it was a bright sunny afternoon and his dog had picked up the scent of something and ran in amongst the trees, barking. Idris followed, calling the dog’s name. When the sound of the barking faded there was only the creaking of branches in the breeze and an occasional birdsong. Once, Idris thought he saw the shape of the dog and ran quickly after it but lost it again. Despairing of catching him, Idris began to retrace his steps but quickly realised that he had lost the path. Ignoring the tightening knot in the stomach, he tried first one direction, then another in an effort to find something familiar.

The minutes turned to hours; Idris’s panic was rising. He sat down to rest and think, and noticed with alarm that the sun had gone down. In his mind’s eye he remembered the grave faces of the men who had recounted the story of Morgan and the spirits they had said inhabited the woods. At that moment, he caught a sudden movement of branches as a large bird took off from a tree. Idris cried out in terror and ran as fast as he could, on and on, tripping over branches and swerving to avoid trees. Only when his chest was tight and he was tearing grasping breaths from his body, did he stop and sink to the ground. Idris crouched over, hugging his knees, rocking his body and sobbing.

The wood was dark now and shapes took on menacing forms. Idris dared not close hs eyes but stared in terror. His dreams and his fears met in the darkness – dreams filled with voices and flame torches.

He cried out when he felt strong arms around him. It was several minutes before he realised that they were the arms of his father. He was wrapped in a blanket and put on a horse.

As the terror ebbed away and felt safe again, Idris noticed he had been only a short way from the path and the edge of the wood. Had he been able to calm down, he would have found his way.

Hilary Farmer