The Jump

     You stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon. Wind rustled your hair, teasing you— if it was a little stronger it would push you off. You wished it would, because you weren’t sure you could do it. You weren’t sure you could jump.

The Grand Canyon (picture taken by author in March 2017)

    Sucking in a breath, you took another step closer to the edge, looking further down.
    You had come all this way just for this moment. You couldn’t just not do it now.
    “Kimball, if you don’t want to do it right now, you don’t have to.”
    Soren floated in front of you. His bare toes brushed the dirt just slight, and then left the ground as he soared out onto the cliff, effortlessly. Beautifully. Without a worry or care. 
    You shifted. That is what you wanted.
    Soren looked down, his face twisting slightly. 
    “It’s beautiful, Kim, but I just don’t get why—“ 
    “If I’m going to die,” you interrupted, then hesitated. “If I’m going to die…” You looked down at the chasm. “Then I want it to be worth it. I want it to be beautiful.” 
    “You might not die.” 
    “I might not live either.” The rays of the setting sun made the canyon a more vibrant shade of orange. 
    “I’ll catch you.” 
    You looked back up at him. His sincere eyes seemed to glow in the light of the setting sun. 
    “That’s not how it works.” 
    “Who says that’s not how it—?” 
    “I have to feel the rush. I have to feel the fear. I have to expect to hit the ground, I can’t count on you to catch me, or I won’t fly. That’s how it works.” You took a shaky breath, and then another small step toward the edge. You could hear the sound of sightseers behind you still, but no one questioned or stopped you. “We all know this is how it works.”
    “I don’t want you to die, Kim,” his voice cracked, and he looked down. Soren floated toward you and touched the ground, which he only did when he was going to hug you, so you held out your arms. He stepped into your embrace and hugged you tightly. 
    “I have to know, Soren,” you whispered, your heart pounding. “I love you more than anything else, but I have to know. If I don’t, what kind of existence will I live?” 
    “An existence with me, on the ground, would that be so bad?” he whispered back. 
    “No. In fact, it’s all I ever wanted…” water began to fill your eyes, but you quickly blinked it back. “But I will be plagued by the question, the idea of it… and I will go insane. Because… what if I can fly? What if I am like you?” 
    He stepped back and looked at you, his gaze trailing up and down your face.
    “But what if…?” 
    “No. I am doing this.” 
    You pushed him gently and put your toes on the very edge. Only half an inch kept you from your destiny. 
    “Kimball…” Soren said, his voice tight.
    “Tell me again how it feels.” You looked up at the sky, and then closed your eyes. 
    “It’s… terrifying. The jump,” Soren began timidly.
    “I thought you said you were excited when you did it,” you interrupted. 
    “I was. All my friends had done it and described it to me. I was twelve, so I didn’t think twice until I stood on the edge.” 
    You opened your eyes, embracing where you stood. 
    “And then it occured to me for the first time, as I stood there, with all my friends watching… that I might not make it.” 
    You embraced the fear as he spoke.
    “I’m still not sure whether it was peer pressure, or stupidity, but, looking back… I just knew I would fly. I had faith that I would rise from the ground. So when I jumped… I relished the wind and the speed… and the view. It wasn’t much, it wasn’t like this, but the trees and the sky… I wanted to keep seeing it. And I did. There were shivers on my body when the gravity suddenly didn’t seem so heavy… and then, I just remember there being more wind, and an endless sea of trees…” 
    Soren took a deep breath. 
    “Take the jump, Kimball. It’s worth it.”
    “H-how, how will I know how to do it? What if I can fly, but I fall because I don’t know how?” your heart was beating erratically, your courage was failing, maybe you didn’t want this— 
    “It doesn’t work that way. If you can fly, you will. You won’t be able to stop yourself.” Soren touched your elbow, and you looked at him. “I support whatever you choose right now, Kimball.” 
    “Thank you. I love you.” 
    And then you stepped forward.
    You screamed, and it echoed around your body as you plunged. The wind pushed against you, and you fell faster, and faster. The orange light was blinding, the wind blurred your vision, you stretched out your arms toward the light as you were plunged suddenly into the shadow of the canyon. The ground zoomed toward you. You tried to feel the shivers, you tried to pull yourself back toward the light, but you realized in that last moment that you would not escape the earth’s pull. 
    You couldn’t fly.
    You shut your eyes. 
    And then a loud shout sounded next to you, and you opened your eyes to see the tops of trees and a river and then— 
    Soren grabbed your shirt and screamed loudly, pulling you forward with him. You screamed as you flew past the trees, their branches hitting your arms until you finally flew into a clearing. Your shirt was riding up, it was going to snap from the speed and the weight and you imagined falling into the river beneath you— but then he swooped upward and— let go. You soared upward with a scream, but in a short second arms were wrapped tightly around your waist, his chest in your face, and as you pulled your head up your eyes were blinded by the light. 
    He flew foward again, and you wrapped your legs and arms around him. Your eyes were wide and your breathing was heavy, as you comprehended what had just happened. 
    “You— you— you saved me! You caught me! Soren? How could you? How could you? How? How c—?” Tears overflowed your eyes and you clutched him tightly, trying not to sob. The wind blew the tears from your cheek.
    “Kimball, I…” 
    “I can’t fly, Soren. I didn’t feel any of it. I was just afraid. I was just falling. There was no faith, there was nothing, there wasn’t anything, I just fell…” You looked down at the terrifyingly beautiful canyon beneath you.
    “Shhhh,” he rubbed your back, “It’s okay.” 
    “But I can’t fly, Soren, I can’t fly…” 
    “You don’t need to fly. You have me.” He held you tightly, and soared farther up, up toward the clouds and the blue and the orange. You shut your eyes, breathing in his scent.
    And you felt the shackles fall off of your soul and your mind. It suddenly didn’t matter that you couldn’t fly. You were free.

The View: An Allegory

You stared at the flower shop, adjusting the straps of the backpack on your shoulders. You hated flower shops— always had— after all, they were for sissy, sentimental people, weren’t they? Hopeless romantics? Ironic that your search for the View had led you here, wasn’t it?

But you weren’t about to be deterred by a little flower shop, for if what your sources had told you was true, this flower shop was where the Guide was.

Taking a deep breath, you walked into the shop. The delicate smell of spring wafted to your nose, and colors surrounded you on all sides. You stared unabashedly, taking it all in.

“Hello! How may I help you?”

You whirled around, your sneakers squeaking on the recently polished floor. A man sat behind the counter, arranging a few lilies in a small bouquet.

“Yes, um…” You walked toward him. “I… I am looking for the Guide.”

The man met your gaze. His brilliant eyes startled you, and you looked away.

“Do you know where I can find Him?” you asked, staring at the white roses to your right.

The man chuckled.

“You already have! How can I help you?”

Your curiosity overcame your timidity in an instant, and you looked at him again. You analyzed him quickly, noticing a walking stick leaning on the wall not far behind him.

“You are—?”

“Yes, I am the Guide.”


“Are not what you expected?” he chuckled again and stood. “I get that a lot. People don’t usually recognize me when they see me, or expect to find me in a place like this.”

He walked out from behind the counter.

“Care to have a seat?” he gestured toward a row of stools in front of the counter as he sat on one himself. “You look weary.”

“I… I have been looking for you for awhile,” you said as you took the seat a couple stools away from him. “I was hoping…”

“You seek the View?”

You looked him in the eyes.

“How did you know?”

“It’s not an easy journey,” he went on. You could tell that he was studying you now.

“I know.”

You swung your backpack off your shoulders, unzipping it and pulling out a couple books inside.

“I’ve been reading about it for awhile now,” you flipped open your favorite book to a page with a picture of a map on it. “And I’ve heard the stories from people whose family or friends went with you— and I— I— well,” you glanced at him again, “I’ve been living in valleys and plains all my life. And I’ve walked up a couple hills— but it’s not enough. I want to go to the mountain top.”

The man stroked his chin, looking at the bouqet he had been working on.

“I need the View in my life,” you went on, hoping to sound persuasive. “It’s what I need to… make it better.”

The Guide was silent.

“But from what people have told me… the only way to get to the top is to be shown there. They say you need a Guide.”

He finally looked at you.

“What else do they say?” he asked, tilting his head to the side.

You hesitated, searching your memory.

“I’ve heard some say that you don’t need a guide. I’ve heard some suggest different guides, but…”

“But?” he prompted.

“I’ve done my research,” you said with a firm nod. “And all the people who have actually seen the View say that there is only one Guide. They say you are the only way to the top. Is that true?”

He smiled.

“I can take you there,” he said, standing.

“Really?” you exclaimed, adrenalaine coursing through you.

“Yes. But there are a couple of things I need to make sure you understand,” he said as he grabbed his walking stick off of the wall.

“Oh, I already know all about it,” you said, reassuringly. “I’ve read all the books available about the hike. I—“

“That’s the first thing,” he interrupted. “I am glad you did your research and that it led you to me, but now, you need to trust me and my map. All journeys are different, and the only way I can lead you to the top is if you let me, which means forgetting what you think you know and trusting me.”

“I have a copy of your map,” you replied, hesitantly, reaching into your backpack.

“Great! Can I see?”

You pulled it out of your backpack and laid it out across the counter.

“Yes! Good,” he nodded as he looked it over.

“My only problem is that I don’t know which paths to take. It gets confusing in some places…” you said, pointing to an area you had always struggled to interpret.

“That’s why you need me,” the Guide said with a nod.

“Okay,” you replied, feeling relieved now that the pressure was off you. “What was the second thing you needed to tell me?”

“The second thing is that once you see the View, you can’t go back to the valley. You will have to live at the top. Are you prepared to do this?”

You nodded, eagerly.

“Yes. Yes.”

The Guide smiled.

“Great! Are you ready to leave?”


“Then let’s go!”


  You stared up at the tall mountain before you, feeling slightly intimidated, but also excited. You had been waiting for this moment for so long. You were about to start the journey to the View. You imagined all the adventures and glimpses of the View you would get on the way up.

“All right. Where do you want to start?”

You looked at him, frowning.

“You’re the Guide. Don’t you decide where to go?”

“I will lead you up, but you can decide which path you want to take.”

“Which is the shortest one?”

He chuckled.

“Sorry, they’re all about the same in that respect.”

“Why does it matter then?”

“Well,” he replied, looking up at the mountain thoughtfully, “They all have their own aspects and challenges. Some have winding paths, others are steep, some go through forests, others go through desert-like areas…”

While he was talking, you pulled the map out of your backpack.

“What about this one?” you asked, pointing to one that you had always liked.

“Oh, that one. It goes through forests, it’s a little steeper…”

“How dangerous is it?”

“They all have their own dangers, so it’s hard to say. But it doesn’t matter. You have me. I will protect you.”

You looked up at him.

“Okay. Let’s do this one then,” you decided, rolling up the map again.

“Sweet. Let’s do it!”

He led you to where the trail began, and you began to hike together. The day was perfect. The sun was shining, but it wasn’t too hot. Birds chirped in the trees, you saw squirrels and other wildlife, and beautiful plants lined the path. That night the Guide pitched a tent for you and built a fire. When you asked where he would sleep, he said that he would spend the night making rounds to make sure you were safe. Embarrassed but relieved, you spent an enjoyable evening together, and he showed you the constellations before you went to bed. He knew every one.

The second day was much like the first. The path wasn’t too steep, the weather was perfect, and the company was great. You liked the Guide, and you were feeling more and more comfortable with him as the hours wore on.

As the week went by, the climb began to get steeper, the path became thinner, and the forest became thicker, with shadows covering you for most of the walk. You enjoyed the challenge and the change at first, but after awhile, it became frustrating.

“Why didn’t you tell me it was going to get this steep?” you snapped at the Guide one morning. “Wasn’t there an easier path you could’ve taken me on?”

“I told you that each path would have it’s challenges,” the Guide said, looking back at you.

You mumbled a few more complaints under your breath when the Guide got far enough ahead. He was always ahead of you, and you could never seem to keep up.

What if one day he leaves you behind?

“I can’t see the View,” you grumbled, looking around at all the trees. “Is there even going to be a view? Or are there going to be trees the whole time? This is stupid…”

The Guide glanced back at you, but didn’t say anything. You knew what he was thinking though. That the journey would be worth the final View, that you should be patient and just enjoy the hike…

Whatever. That doesn’t make this any less hard.


A couple hours later, you made camp for the night. The Guide made a fire, smiling up at you every once in awhile. But you didn’t feel like smiling back tonight.

“Tonight we should be able to see a few constellations more clearly,” the Guide said joyfully, looking up at the sky.

“If it’s all right with you, I would like to get to sleep early,” you said, staring at the fire.

“Oh, okay. You get your rest,” the Guide responded. “We have another long day tomorrow!”

“Yes, I know,” you mumbled as you crawled into your tent.


You startled awake. It was pitch black, and there was dead silence. Listening carefully, you sat up.

It came again. A sharp cracking noise, followed by another— it came from right outside your tent. You strained your ears and your eyes, hoping and praying it was just the Guide.

A low growl pierced the silence, and shivers flowed down your spine. You sat completely still, contemplating what to do. It sounded like a medium-sized animal, probably a wolf.

In the not-too-far distance, you heard a howl.

Definitely wolves.

The walking stick that the Guide had crafted for you was sitting right outside your tent. If you could only get to it…

Another growl sounded on your right, and from the left you heard a wolf sniffing your tent.

Where is the Guide? Doesn’t he hear them?

Your heart raced, but you forced yourself to take deep breaths.

The stick. I need the stick.

Silently slipping out from under your blankets, you moved toward the front of the tent, forcing your movements to be slow and deliberate.

When you reached the tent, which was zipped shut, you scowled fiercely and took a deep breath.

Ready. Set. Go!

You unzipped the tent as fast as you could and grabbed your walking stick that lay in front of it. Jumping out into the darkness, you whirled around to face the monsters. The two beasts snarled and crept toward you, looking ready to pounce. You held your stick out in front of you, glancing quickly between the two. Another howl sounded from behind you. Closer this time.

You swallowed hard and backed away from them, looking for the path in the blackness. If you could find it, you could run.

But the wolves were coming closer.

Where is the Guide?!

“Stay back!” you shouted, swinging the stick. One snapped at you, and you pointed the stick at it, just as the other pounced. You shouted and swung your stick, hitting it in the snout. It whined briefly, but was quickly baring it’s teeth at you once more.

The other wolf jumped toward you. You retreated a few steps, and they both simultaneously attacked.

You hit one on the head, but cried out as the other slammed into you, clamping it’s sharp teeth onto your left arm. You fell over, dropping your walking stick. Screaming, you kicked at the wolf, using your other hand to try and unfasten it from your arm. Your mind was fuzzy from pain. The darkness was closing in, and the other wolf approached you from the other side.

“Guide!! Guide, help me!” you shouted. The pain overwhelmed your senses as the wolf dug it’s claws into your stomach, and you cried out in agony.

“Help me…” you groaned, desperately, as the other wolf got closer.

And then suddenly, there was light.

A roar echoed through the trees.

“Get back!”

The second wolf shrank back, seeming to wince at the light. The wolf on top of you momentarily released your arm to look over at the light, just in time to be shoved off of you by a mighty blow. The wolf whimpered and the two escaped into the darkness, howling.

You let your head drop to the ground, and for a minute, you just stared up at the sky, taking shaky breaths.

“Are you all right?”

The shifted your gaze as the Guide came and knelt beside you, concern evident on his face.

“I… my… my arm…” You dared not move. You could feel the blood pouring down it and seeping through your shirt.

“It’s okay. You’re going to be okay,” the Guide said, firmly. “Just lie here for a moment. I will be right back.”

“Don’t leave,” you said, reaching out and grabbing his wrist with your good hand.

“I won’t. I promise.”

He stood and went over to his backpack that was lying next to the raging bonfire. He brought it over to you, pulling out a first aid kit. He cleaned and wrapped your wounds, telling you over and over that it was going to be okay. As he finished up, you studied his face.

“Where were you?”

He met your gaze.

“I was making my rounds.”

“Didn’t you hear the wolves? Why didn’t you come?”

“Why didn’t you call out to me sooner?” he countered, compassion in his eyes. You were silent.

“I am sorry this happened,” the Guide said, putting a hand on your shoulder. “Whenever you feel you are in danger, call out to me, and I will help you.”

You nodded slightly as you looked at the fire, your mind heavy with the events of the evening.


The next few days passed by slowly, the healing wounds on your arm remaining a painful reminder. But you were determined never to let it happen again— the name of the Guide always ready on your tongue. Twice you had called out to him in the night, even when there was nothing to fear but your own nightmares. But the Guide was the perfect Comforter, and he never made you feel embarrassed or ashamed.

“Hey, look!”

Panting, you looked up. The Guide pointed forward, and you followed his gaze until you saw the rickety old wooden bench.

“Cool,” you respond with a quick smile, wiping the sweat from your forehead.

“Yeah!” the Guide exclaimed, running up to it. You slowly followed behind him. By the time you made it to where he was, he had already sat down and was looking at the map. You plopped down next to him, breathing heavily as you pulled out your water bottle. The Guide hummed to himself as he studied the map.


You put down your water bottle and looked at him. He stared at you intently, like he always did.

“I’m going to go scout out the path ahead, and I need you to wait here,” he tapped the bench, “Okay?”

“Why can’t I come with you?” you asked, frowning.

“You need a rest,” he said, grinning knowingly. “I want you to take a break, okay? So catch your breath, look at the map, eat a snack— I won’t be gone long.”

“Just wait here?” you clarified.

“Yes. Just wait here,” he responded with a nod.

“Okay, sounds good!” you exclaimed with a smile.

“Great! I’ll be right back!” the Guide said, standing. He waved as he walked further up the path. You watched him as he glided forward with powerful, long strides. You realized as he walked away that there was a fork in the road. He took the path to the right, that continued up. Your eyes wandered to the other path. It went straight, not upward, and the trees down it seemed to be more spaced out. You grunted, and opened the front pocket of your backpack, grabbing a granola bar. As you munched on it, your eyes kept wandering to the left path.

You shook your head, and then laid down on the bench, using your backpack as a pillow.

You didn’t know how long you were asleep, but you were rudely awakened as a bird twittered loudly above you. You groaned and looked up, just as the bird flew away. You followed it with your eyes, and watched as it flew down the left path. The golden light of the late afternoon sun lit up the path, illuminating the beautiful clovers and green trees. You looked over at the dry, shadowed path on the right, but there was no sign of the Guide.

“Where is he?” you mumble, standing and stretching. With a sigh, you look back over to the left path.

Well, if he’s going to be awhile longer, I may as well explore a little. Maybe I can find some berries or something to have with dinner.

You zipped up your backpack and sat it upright on the bench, and then turned toward the left path.

But he said to wait here.

You glanced at the bench, and then at the right path.

He didn’t say I couldn’t explore.

You headed down the left path, taking deep breaths and enjoying the crisp smell of the forest. Your steps were light, and your heart felt free and happy. You even smiled as you sauntered along, listening to the birds. The path reminded you of when you first began your journey, though something seemed off about it…

But you ignored those feelings, deciding to live in the moment and enjoy your surroundings.

You lost track of time, and the path became easier as it started to go downhill. You weren’t sure how far you had gone, and you were just thinking about maybe heading back, when you saw it. Your eyes widened as you noticed, through the trees, a small paradise. A field of bright green grass and clovers covered a small hill, and at the bottom of the hill was a lake. Pouring down a cliff face into the lake was a small, misty waterfall.

“Wow…” You didn’t hesitate. You turned off the path and walked toward it.

When you reached the lake, you pulled off your sneakers and socks and stuck your feet in. The cool water felt good on your tired feet, and you smiled, rolling up your jeans so you could wade further into the water.

You splashed and laughed, admiring the glorious nature all around you. The sun began to sink on the horizon, and you goggled at the way it’s piercing rays glinted on the blue water.

You waded back to shore, sitting in the green grass and laying down on your back. You stared up at the colorful sky, watching the clouds drift by.

I should probably head back.

But you were so comfortable. And why should you head back? The Guide probably hadn’t returned yet.

I’ll head back in a little bit. I can find my way back— and he won’t even know that I was gone.

You took a deep breath and shut your eyes for a minute.

And then next minute, you were startled awake by an all-too familiar noise.

A wolf howl.

Your heart raced as you realized it was already nighttime. The sky was filled with stars and the crescent moon glinted, but it wasn’t enough to see by. You jumped to your feet, searching for your shoes as your eyes adjusted to the darkness.

But then another howl pierced the darkness, this time much closer.

Adrenalaine coursed through you.

The Guide… I need the Guide.

But the Guide was probably back at the bench. Would he be looking for you?

Another howl sounded. Closer. So much closer.

You couldn’t find your shoes.

You wanted the Guide, but what good would calling do? He wouldn’t be able to hear you.

He told you to wait, and you wandered away. Now look—

A fierce growl sounded from across the lake.

You bolted.

You ran up the hill, toward where you thought the path was.

The wolves weren’t far behind.

You glanced back briefly and saw a back of at least half a dozen wolves chasing after you. You gave a short cry and ran faster.

You entered the forest, looking around for any sign of the path, but the trees blocked what little light there was. You couldn’t see, and you didn’t dare slow down. So you ran in the direction that you hoped would lead you back to the bench.

A few minutes passed, and you never found the path. You dashed between the trees, but they were getting closer together, as was the foliage beneath you. Your feet stung, and you began to stumble. You tried to keep your panic under control as you blindly continued forward.

Where is the bench? Wasn’t the bench this way?

But you were lost, and you knew it.

You knew you should call for the Guide, but what good would it do? You were lost, how would he be able to hear you?

Plus, this is your own fault. Your brought this on yourself.

The wolves were coming closer, and you were going slower. You tried to hurry your pace again, but then you tripped on a tree root. With a cry, you fell to the ground. You tried to rise, but your arms failed you and you fell back onto the damp ground, dirt smearing onto your arms and getting in the wounds on your left arm. Your breathing quickened, but you couldn’t find the strength to try again. Tears filled your eyes as you heard the wolves coming closer.

You were going to die.

You collapsed, burying your face in the ground, ashamed by the fact that you were getting what you deserved.

“Guide,” you whimpered, leaning your head down. “I am sorry, I’m so sorry. Please help me.”

The howls got closer.

“Guide, please.”

You could hear their panting as they approached.

“Guide! Please!” you screamed into the ground as fear overwhelmed you.

There was silence.

You waited, but there was no panting, no growls.

You opened your eyes, and you saw yellow light out of the corner of your eye.

And then a hand was on your back.

“Are you okay?”

Your heart leapt at the sound of the Guide.

You turned onto your side and sat up, wiping your eyes and accidentally getting dirt on your face.

“You’re— you’re here,” you murmur, staring at him stupidly.

“I said I would be,” he said, kneeling next to you. “Are you hurt?”

You stare at him in shock.

“Why didn’t you stay at the bench?” he asked quietly.

Tears filled your eyes and you looked away.

“Come on, let’s find the path,” the Guide said, standing and holding out his hand to you. You grasped it, and he pulled you to your feet. You took a step away from him, feeling ashamed, but he bridged the gap and wrapped you in a hug.

“I-I’m sorry.”

“For what?” he asked, even though he knew perfectly well.

“You… you told me to stay at the bench. But I didn’t. I lost my shoes… I almost died… and it was my own fault. I’m sorry. I should’ve trusted you, should’ve obeyed you.”

“You’re learning,” the Guide said, enthusiastically, stepping back but keeping his hands on your shoulders.

You sniffed and looked away from him.

“I forgive you. And don’t worry, your wounds will heal, if you will continue to trust me from now on.”

You looked at him as he raised his eyebrows. You smiled slightly.

“I will try, but…” you hesitate.

“You will feel tempted to wander again. But you don’t have to give into it. Follow my instructions— I promise I only want what’s best for you. I want you to reach the top. Is that still what you want?”

You nodded firmly.

“Good. Now,” he clapped his hands together and picked up his walking stick. “Let’s go find your shoes!”


The journey lasted for many more days, but you were starting to find more and more joy in the journey. It was becoming easier, the more you listened to the Guide and followed his instructions. He had so much wisdom, and so many stories to tell. He had become your best friend, and everyday you woke up with a new vigor, excited to spend another day getting closer to the top.

And then one day, without warning, you made it.

“We’re here!” the Guide exclaimed, breaking the peaceful silence. You looked up from the path, and saw that just ahead there was a clearing. The path ended halfway into the clearing, and at the very edge of it there was a skillfully crafted bench. In front of the bench was a field full of colorful flowers, and…

“The View,” you whispered, coming to a halt.

“Come on!” the Guide laughed, stopping and waiting for you.

You jogged toward him, a smile growing on your face.

“We made it?!”

“We made it!”

The Guide began to run, and you ran after him.

The Guide tossed his backpack to the side as he slid onto the bench, laughing like a carefree child, but with the sound and appearance of a majestic King. You set your backpack next to the bench and sat down, keeping your eyes on the beautiful flowers in front of you.

“Look, friend,” the Guide encouraged. “Look…”

Taking a deep breath, you looked up.


It was amazing. It was breathtaking.

You stared for a minute.

This is what you had come all this way for.

But, now that you were here, you realized that the View you had been seeking wasn’t the view you were looking at.

You looked at the Guide.

He was already looking at you.

“You,” you whispered.

“Me?” he repeated, his eyes sparkling in the sunlight.

“You’re the View,” you whispered.

He just smiled, knowingly.

“Will you tell me more about you?” you asked, turning to face him head-on.

“Of course I will!” he exclaimed. “What would you like to know?”

“Why did you agree to lead me here? Even though I had a misconception of the View… and even though I was stubborn… Why?”

“It was the only way for you to discover the View,” he said. “And I wanted you to make it here safely— I care about you.”

“Me?” you echoed.

“Yes! You!’

“But… why? Even after I failed you…”

“Because you were still desiring the View— and I wanted you to see it. So? What do you think?”

Your vision was blurred with tears.

“I love you, my Guide. Thank you for bringing me here.”

He leaned over and hugged you, and your tears fell on his shoulder.

“I love you too.”

Please Stay

A short story inspired by the song West by Sleeping At Last. (I don’t have a link to it, unfortunately, but I know you can listen to it for free on Spotify!)

I hope you like it! And please, feel free to comment!


Elvi looked back at the city that was now barely visible on the horizon. All she could see was the castle’s spires towering into the sky, but  the noise of the cheering people still rang in her ears, so she was unable to enjoy the silence of the abandoned forest path. Elvi brought her horse to a stop. She scanned the area, but she didn’t see him. Sighing deeply, she adjusted the red cape that was strapped to her shoulders, wondering whether he had given up on her and left. She was late.
“But it’s not my fault,” she mumbled to herself, looking back at the castle. “They detained me.”
“I’m not surprised,” a voice replied. “You’re Elvi, the dragon-slayer. I knew you wouldn’t be able to escape from them easily, so I planned accordingly.” Elvi looked up at the trees.
“Show yourself,” she demanded, playfully. Søren swooped down and landed next to her. He stood tall and ran his hand through his long brown hair. His scaly, auburn-colored tail flicked from side to side. Elvi’s horse skittered, so she dismounted and attempted to quiet her steed.
“Sorry,” he said as she petted her mare’s nose. “Horses don’t tend to like me.”
She looked at him.
“Hello Søren.” She smiled.
“Hello Elvi,” he replied, folding his big, leathery wings behind him. “Being a hero suits you well, I see. The color has finally returned to your cheeks.” He glanced behind her. “And that’s a beautiful cape you’re wearing.”
Her cheeks felt suddenly warm.
“I’m not a hero, Søren,” she said as he came to stand next to her. “I was just following your advice. You’re the hero, not me.”
“No, no, Elvi,” he assured. “Don’t say that. You did more than you realize. They couldn’t’ve won the war without you.”
Elvi sighed and looked away. No matter what he said, she would always feel guilty for accepting the praise and honor he deserved. But he would never accept any credit. He was too afraid to show himself to the people because of what he was. Elvi had promised to vouch for him, he was only half dragon, after all, and he had done so much for the Kingdom— but he absolutely refused to come out of hiding. She didn’t really blame him, though. Because of the war, the people now believed that dragons were soulless monsters.
And Elvi was afraid he was starting to believe that, too.
The silence between them was comforting, and she was sorry to break it, but she knew they didn’t have much time together. He would be on his way again soon.
“Where will you go?” she asked, looking up at him.
“Nowhere,” he replied, slowly reaching out his hand toward her steed. The horse’s ears went flat against it’s head and it snorted, so Søren lowered his arm. He winced, and then looked at her and said, “I will wander the edge of the land again. Perhaps I can ensure that our borders are respected.”
“Alone?” Elvi whispered.
“It’s for the best.”
They were quiet for some time.
“And you?” he said. “Where will you go?”
“West,” Elvi replied, looking at her horse. “Back to my family.”
He frowned.
“You shouldn’t travel alone,” he said. “What if something happens to you?”
“Nothing will happen to me. I’m a hero, remember?” Elvi smirked.
“Even more of a reason to be cautious,” he said as she turned and mounted her horse.
“I will be cautious,” she said, adjusting her cape again. “It’s only a day’s journey at most, anyway. I’ll be fine.”
“No, you cannot go alone.”
“What are you suggesting, Søren?” Elvi said, looking down at him. He hesitated before speaking.
“I am suggesting that going together would be better than you traveling alone, so I will do it. I will accompany you.”
Elvi was surprised
“You… will?”
“Yes. It’s only a short detour.” He shrugged.
“Well then,” she said, trying to contain her excitement. “Let’s go, shall we? We’re loosing daylight.”
Søren nodded and then spread his long wings. He jumped into the air, easily cutting through the flimsy branches above him as he flew into the sky. He was beyond her sight, but she could hear the sound of his flapping wings as she kicked her horse into a canter.


It was early the next day when the terrain finally began to slope upward. The journey had been so far uneventful, and Elvi hadn’t seen any sight of Søren since the beginning of it. She could hear him, but he hadn’t shown himself, not even when she called. He was staying away from her for some reason, and it was exasperating.
Elvi looked up at the tall evergreen trees, knowing that he was above them somewhere.
“We’re almost there!” she shouted, wondering if he could hear. “It should only be a few more hours!”
Silence was her only response. She sighed and kicked her horse from a walk to a canter.    By noon the land had leveled out again. The faint mountain path had slowly disappeared, and it was nearly mid-afternoon when Elvi realized she didn’t remember the direction she was supposed to go. She slowed her horse and looked around. None of it was familiar. She scowled.
“I used to know these forests better than my own home,” she murmured, straining her neck.
Finally, she stopped. Reaching into her saddle bag, she pulled out an old, weather-worn scroll. She unrolled the parchment. The map inside was marked by many lines and Xs, reminding her of every place she’d been and every battle she’d fought. She ran her fingers over her father’s name in the corner and then began to study the plat carefully.
A moment later there was a loud flapping sound, but she didn’t look up when Søren landed a couple paces away.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Oh! And now he speaks to me!” Elvi exclaimed.
“What?” Søren said, obviously confused. She huffed.
“When you said you were coming with me so I wouldn’t be alone,” she lifted her eyes to glare at him, “I was excited, I’ll admit. But you have taught me that there is a difference between being alone and being lonely.”
She lowered her gaze again.
“I… I am sorry,” Søren said after a long silence. “But… it was for the best. I couldn’t risk anyone seeing you with me.”
“Why not?” she snapped.
“You’re a hero, Elvi— a noble in the eyes of many,” he said, running his hand through his hair. “And I… well, I’m a halfling. What would people say if they saw you with me?” He stretched out his wings just for emphasis.
His words struck Elvi speechless.
“Now, what’s wrong?” he asked again, approaching her cautiously.
“I’ve forgotten the way,” she whispered, looking down at the map. They were silent for a time.
“We will have to wait for sunset, so I can find my sense of direction,” she said, rolling up the parchment again.
“What about your father’s compass?” Søren suggested. “It’s steady true north has never failed us before. Why should it fail us now?”
Elvi paused. She took a deep breath and blinked back tears.
Søren must’ve noticed.
“You didn’t lose it?” he asked, anxiously.
“No, no,” she said, reaching under her collar and grasping the silver chain. The compass appeared, but it wasn’t as glorious as it had once been. It’s golden exterior was now pale and dirty, the glass was cracked, and the arrow stuck.
“It’s broken,” she said, her voice cracking. “And we’re lost.”
And then she threw the compass onto the ground. It landed at Soren’s feet. He reached down and picked it up.
“No, we’re not,” he exclaimed, putting the chain around his own neck. “Not yet.”
He took a deep breath through the nose, which startled Elvi. He sniffed the air again, his nostrils flared and his eyes squinted.
And then he grinned.
“Aha!” he exclaimed, jumping into the air and unfurling his wings.
“What?” Elvi shouted in confusion.
“Humans! Your family! I can smell traces of them,” he explained, still smiling. “They lead this way, follow me!”
And then he flew forward, his majestic wings slicing the air.
Elvi kicked her horse and was quickly after him.


Elvi watched for anything she recognized, but it was a pointless effort. Søren hadn’t slowed for a moment, but the sun was sinking lower in the sky and Elvi was becoming anxious.
“Are we close?” Elvi yelled to him. “It’s dangerous to be out here after dark!”
Søren let himself fall onto the ground, landing with grace. He breathed in deep.
“Yes, the smell is stronger,” he said, closing his eyes. “But… there is also something else… and it’s much closer.”
“What?” Elvi asked after a minute of silence.
“I’m not sure, it smells familiar, but…” he sniffed again, and then opened his eyes wide. He whirled around to face her.
“Wolves!” he exclaimed.
Before she could respond there was a loud howl.
And then there was a snap to their right. They looked to see wolves silently emerging from the foliage, low growls emanating from their throats. Elvi gasped and reached for her sword, but then her horse whinnied and reared. Elvi screamed as she tumbled to the ground. She hit the ground hard and her scream was cut short.
Gasping for breath, she forced herself to move. She lifted her head, only to stare straight into the black eyes of a wolf. She wanted to scream but couldn’t. The wolf opened it’s jaws to strike, but then suddenly a dragon’s roar reverberated through the air. Soren’s tail came from nowhere, smacking the wolf in the face. He roared again and it shook the very ground where Elvi sat. The wolves silenced. They hesitated, but then the wolf that Søren hit began to growl again and the others quickly joined it.
Before they could attack, Søren turned and ran toward Elvi. He was quickly by her side, lifting her from the ground with ease. But the wolves were forming a semi-circle around them. Elvi clutched Søren tightly, her heart pounding in her chest as she stared at their sharp teeth.
“Hey,” Soren’s calm voice whispered in her ear. She looked at him.
“We’re going to be just fine,” he said. Her horse was gone, the wolves were closing in, but Elvi believed him. She relaxed in his arms.
“Hold on,” he whispered, leaning down. And then, he jumped into the air and spread his wings. Up they went. Up, beyond the wolves’ reach; up, beyond the tops of the trees; up, almost to the clouds. They soared on the breeze. Søren scanned the ground below them, meanwhile Elvi stared at the beautifully colored sky and breathed in the cold wind.
“Is that it?” Søren asked gently, breaking her thoughts. She looked down.
He glided back down through the trees and landed in front of her family’s mansion. The gates were closed. He set her down gently, but Elvi stood frozen.
She hadn’t seen her home in so long, she almost couldn’t believe it was real.
After what seemed like an eternity, she walked up to the gate and rung the bell. And then she crossed her arms and closed her eyes.
“Are you all right, Elvi?” Søren asked. She looked over her shoulder.
“I’m fine. Thank you for rescuing me. Again,” she smiled, weakly. “Are you all right?”
He opened his mouth to reply, when the gates flew open with a creak.
Elvi jerked her head forward. A man and woman stood just inside the gates.
“Mother? Father?”
She ran forward into their open arms and they hugged her tightly. Soon joyful shouts filled the air and all of Elvi’s brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents surrounded her. They pulled her further into the courtyard where hundreds of hugs and kisses awaited. Happy tears were flowing freely down her face when she suddenly remembered Søren. She whirled around.
Over the heads of her family she saw him, standing outside of the gates. Their eyes met. He smiled and lifted his hand in farewell. And then he spread his wings and flew into the nearest tree. Her family looked in the direction she was staring, but they never saw him.
And then the gates began to close and Elvi was rushed inside.
But she couldn’t help looking back at her friend, who sat perched on the highest branch.     “Goodbye, Søren,” she said, but her adieu was lost in the noisy celebration.


Elvi was happy to be home.
In less than an hour her family was sitting down to a feast. As they all sat down at the long table, Elvi looked out of the large window across from her, surprised that the sun was still in the sky. With her family fussing over her she hadn’t had any time to think, and the hour had felt like an eternity.
The servants brought platters of delicious food to the table, but Elvi found herself unable to eat. And so, while her family was busy devouring the meal, she had a moment to herself.
It was solacing to have so many kind, familiar faces surrounding her.
But something wasn’t right. Something was missing.
It felt like half of her heart hadn’t arrived yet.
And it was because of him. She couldn’t deny it, and she couldn’t get him out of her mind. But she didn’t want to. She missed him already.
Looking out of the window, she searched the trees. The sun cast dark shadows over the forest, but she easily found Søren. He hadn’t moved from the tree. It looked like he was watching them.
And then it occurred to her that he had probably never seen a family before.
He was alone. He was alone and had been his whole life. No one had ever offered to accompany him. No one had ever offered to go out of their way for him.
She stared at Søren’s silhouette. And then she realized that with every minute she sat idle, she was letting him slip through her fingers.
Could she sit there any longer?
And then, Søren stood. Elvi gasped as he spread his wings.
“No!” she exclaimed. Her siblings startled, but she didn’t care. She couldn’t just sit anymore. Jumping to her feet, she didn’t even bother to excuse herself but ran out of the room as fast as she could.
“No, no, no!” she exclaimed as she opened the front door.
“Elvi!” her mother cried, appearing in the hallway behind her. “Where are you going?”
“Søren!” Elvi shouted as she ran out of the door. “I have to get Søren!”
But she was soon out of earshot. Her bare feet slapped the cold, stone path as she ran to the gate. It was closed. Her heart pounding, she flung it open.
“Søren!” she yelled into the spreading darkness. She squinted her eyes, but the sun’s light was nearly gone.
She ran out into the forest, stumbling over roots and rocks.
“Please, Søren!” she cried, wondering whether he had left or was ignoring her. Elvi’s eyes adjusted to the dimness just to be blurred by her tears.
“Søren… Oh, Søren…”
But then, just when she had given up hope, there was a loud whooshing sound. She caught her breath.
She blinked and wiped her eyes. A man stood in front of her. A man with wings.
She ran to him, relief washing over her as she threw her arms around his neck.
“What is it, Elvi?” he said, accepting the embrace. She released him, sliding her hand down his arm and grasping his hand.    “I want you to stay,” she blurted, staring into his eyes.
He was silent.
“Søren?” Elvi laughed, tears overflowing her eyes. “Didn’t you hear me? I want you to live here with us! I want you to join my family! Please, say you’ll stay.”
“I can’t,” he whispered.
Elvi’s heart almost stopped.
“Why not?”
He shifted weight.
“You can’t expect me to be accepted here. What would the people do when they found out? What would the King say? No, I can’t stay here, Elvi. I can’t stay. It’s for the best.”
Elvi trembled.
“Who’s best?” she exclaimed. “Yours? Mine?” She squeezed his hand, the hard scales on the back of his fingers cutting into her skin. “The people will accept you, Søren, if you give them a chance to. But you shouldn’t be alone. You cannot be alone.”
He was quiet for a long time. Slowly, he reached up and grasped her father’s compass that still hung around his neck.
“Then… what are you suggesting?” he said.
“I am suggesting that being together would be better than you traveling alone,” she whispered. “So I will do it.” She leaned in closer, “I will bring you home.”
He looked down, and she thought she saw tears in his eyes.
“I don’t want you to get hurt,” he whimpered.
“Hey,” she said, touching the hand that he still held over his heart. He looked up at her, his hazel eyes glimmering.
“We’ll be just fine,” she whispered. “Please, stay, Søren. Stay in the west.”
He stared at her, and then after what seemed like ages, he finally nodded. Elvi smiled and gently pulled him back toward the gate.
And he let her.

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