My Cousin Cathy sent me a second picture prompt challenge. What do you see when you look at this picture? Let me know and tell me what you thought of my story in the comments.
I sat on my haunches, using my right hand to steady my balance, and my left to push aside some of the thick leaves of the busy in front of me so I could see the castle beyond. Nothing stirred. At least, nothing seemed to stir. At first I caught myself thinking that nature had reclaimed the castle and so it must have been abandoned long ago. However, I instantly knew that was wrong. Nature hadn’t reclaimed the castle. The castle had reclaimed nature.
Whoever, or whatever, resided within its stone walls had lovingly invited the surrounding forest back inside to thrive. While it would to most, I presumed, as I gazed upon the beautiful structure it did not seem odd to me. Animals with supposed intelligence had spent too many eons fighting nature. It seemed right that finally one had learned to live in harmony with it instead.
I was intrigued by the whole situation. The castle. Its inhabitants. The manner in which it had come to be and then continued to exist when so much of the world had crumbled around it. These were all curiosities I could find answers to if I truly desired. I had only to stand up and announce my presence and I had no doubt that all my questions would be resolved.
Alas, my better judgment overruled the more childlike, innocent, naïve, parts of my conscience and I stayed hidden from sight. I was intrigued, yes, perhaps even captivated by the castle rising from the forest floor in an intimate dance with the wilds of this part of the world. More so, however, I had a will to live. And to interact with strangers in strange dwellings in the current age was to likely forfeit ones life. Dark times had come to Earth, and only those who had accepted that and adapted early on had survived. Only those who stayed skeptical and wary continued to live.
I stayed, though, hidden as I was for longer than was smart. It was comforting and nostalgic to see something so beautiful in an otherwise ugly world. It gave me a burning sense of fire in my heart, one I recognized from my youth as hope, that I was hard pressed to ignore.
When night fell and I silently slunk away from the castle, I pondered if that was the trap of the place. It lured you in with its beauty while its caretakers were anything but? I would never know. And, I was okay with that. I took the mental image of the place with me, though. I carried it at all times, and I let the flame in my heart, the burning torch of hope, rage on. I could be careful and carry that flame at the same time.