When I was about five, I got lost in the woods.
I still remember the panic rising in me as I realised I was alone. This all consuming terror that filled me up until all I could do was run and scream and weep.
Flashbacks of the clothes I was wearing, shimmering blue nylon shorts, some plain coloured t-shirt, cheap white trainers, neon socks.
Yet is any of that true? If I was sent back there, to watch from afar, would that be what I was wearing. Would the sun be as bright, the trees as dense, the woods as empty…
And would my screams be as loud as they are in my dreams? If I was passing by, would I even register that that child – that child that was me – was even, in that moment, in distress? Have I externalised, in these long years since, what was always then internalised, taken those silent screams, those blinked back tears, and given them voice, amplified them in the hauntings of my mind.
Eventually I found my parents. Sprinted into their arms across the clearing. Wrapped my arms round my mum’s legs, wept into her dress. Lost myself in the folds of it, the depth of it, the warmth and the comfort of her endless kindness.
As we made our way back to the car, I looked up finally, my tears wiped away on my mother’s clothes, my eyes too young for glasses, my vision as clear as it would ever be.
I did not recognise my parents at all.
1. Written in September 2020
2. The title’s a Silent Hill reference