I awake suddenly, a feeling of emptiness in the pit of stomach. As my eyes adjust, all I see is stone around me. I open my mouth to try to call out for help, but no sound comes out. I begin to wander around, looking for someone who can help me. I desperately want to escape this cold, empty place. 

As I explore my surroundings, I realize that I am in a fortress with architecture so intricate it belongs in a fairy tale. A spiral staircase takes me up to a tower overlooking an elaborate stone maze. It would be beautiful if it didn’t feel so very cold. I opened my mouth again to speak. No sound comes again, but a tower materializes right before my eyes. I run down the staircase to the maze, the emptiness becoming too much for me to bear. When I get to the bottom, I open my mouth to call out. But again, there is no sound. Instead, I see a new stone pillar appear at the start of the maze.

As I step closer, I see that this pillar is made of words, of the words I spoke but could not hear. I then ran back into the fortress, examining the walls. My heart jumped as I realized that these walls were also made of words.

Words that I had wanted to say but hadn’t.

Words that I had knit into pretty stories to help me sleep at night.

Words that others had spoken to me that I replayed in my mind but never uttered to another human. 

I was trapped in a fortress of my own making. These words that had brought me such comfort left me feeling empty and alone. I wanted someone to help but my voice no longer cooperated with me. Every time my mouth opened, the fortress grew, imprisoning me within my own words. The forest became more and more distant. And as it did, my hope of finding another to help withered away. 

Why had I let those words burn inside me? Why had I let them grow so large? 

I longed to reach the forest, to find someone with whom I could share my words. But instead of connecting me with others, my words built walls to keep them away.

To be continued… maybe?

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