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“You have two unheard messages. First unheard message.” The fake, calm voice of the answering machine seems to ring through my ears. I can feel my excited heart pumping blood to every single part of my body. “Hi, this is Kerry from the Golden Mountain Theater Company with a message for Molly.” Anticipation radiates through me like the sun on the Sahara Desert. “I just wanted to let her know that, unfortunately, we do not have a part for her in our production.”

I am vaguely aware of my mother’s quick gasp as the rest of the message slips away from my consciousness. The air in the room begins to feel hot and stuffy. I have to get out. Numbly, I pull open the door and escape into the cool October day. Frantically, I start to run down the narrow path, fleeing to the safety of nature. It leads to a small creek that flows beyond our field. The land I know so well feels cold beneath my bare feet and the steady rhythm of their steps clashes with my uneven breathing. The tall, golden grass that comes in the fall lashes at my bare legs and creates small, red scratches on them. If I wasn’t so confused, so mentally lost and numb, I might have felt it and cared.

The Sanctuary That Cured Me crrek by the woods
I notice the utter calm and stillness the creek, animals, and the trees create

I notice the rhythm of my steps gets slower as I approach the trickling stream. The smell is different down here, like fresh rain and autumn leaves that have begun to fall. I sit down on an old stump, green with moss and lichen, and look down at the calm water of the brook I visit so often. It looks different today, everything does. I stare numbly at the cold, clear water and try to summon the energy to think. The phone message, the Golden Mountain Theater Company; I didn’t get the part I wanted in their production. It was mine! How could this be? Right now, it seems as if that part is my whole life, and it got taken away by one quick phone call.

It is drizzling slightly and the cold, delicate tears from the sky mix with my salty ones and make small, perfect ripples in the glass-like water. I am suddenly aware of every sound: a songbird’s soft call in the aspen tree above me, the cold, October wind slyly wrapping itself around the young, slender trees. The chilly breeze reaches me and sends a shiver down my spine despite the hot, boiling feeling inside of me.

The Sanctuary That Cured Me bird

I notice the utter calm and stillness the creek, animals, and the trees create. It soaks into my skin, seeping deeper and deeper inside of me and finally brings my agitated soul to a stop, letting the calm trickle in, and the pain leak out. A patch of sunlight filters through the leafy, multicolored canopy above me and brings glowing sunshine to me, warming my heart, body, and soul.

I stand up and take a last look at the sanctuary that cured me. Turning around, I make my way up to the warm, friendly house that I call home. Pulling open the slider door, the sweet, cozy scent of hot cocoa fills my nose, and I know I’ll be all right.

The Sanctuary That Cured Me Iona Swift
Iona Swift, 12
Cedar Ridge, California

The Sanctuary That Cured Me Hero Klimek-Brooks
Hero Klimek-Brooks, 13
Tacoma, Washington