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The Fear Landscape Series: Anna

24 Jul
The Fear Landscape Series: Anna

Doors. Many doors. All around. Anna was in a circular room that was covered in locked doors. Frantically she ran from one to another, trying to knock as hard as she could to get someone to hear her. Minutes she ran from door to door, pounding her fist against each one, knuckles bleeding on her hands and getting blood smears on each door.
No one answered. “Someone! Anyone, please, help me!” Anna screamed as she pounded at another, her knuckles numbing at this point. “Please! I need help here!” Still no one came.
Anna went limp and leaned against the door, letting herself slide down it and to the ground, where she collapsed in a heap. No one could hear her. Or maybe they could. Maybe they just didn’t care.
So this was a fear landscape. This was what Anna had to go through. When she’d first heard about it Anna had thought it would be easy. Maybe even fun. Boy had she been wrong.
She hadn’t thought it would feel real. Not this real, anyway. Anna felt exactly like all of this was her only reality and everything in it was true, when all along it was just her own imagination.
“I don’t need help,” whispered Anna on the floor. “I don’t need their help,” she chanted as she rose. Shakily, she stood, clenched her fists, and bit her bottom lip. Her eyes went hard and she breathed in deeply through her nose. She didn’t need them. She didn’t need to knock.
Anna was thrown into the middle of a large courtyard, and many a family milled through, talking to each other and playing with their children. She simply stared me watched for a few wonderful seconds and breathed everything in. Perfection. Anna eagerly went to a group of small children in the middle who were playing duck, duck, goose and crouched down by them.
“Hey, guys!” she said excitedly. “Can I join you?” Anna started to sit when one by one all of the children glanced at each other and shook their heads.
“We don’t want you to play with us,” one of them said.
“You’re too old,” another piped up.
“You’ll only mess everything up,” explained another.
Anna was taken aback. Really? Maybe eighteen was a little old for duck, duck, goose, but usually she thought children loved being around older people who liked to play. “Oh. Well, ok, if that’s what you want,” she said, rising. She’d just have to find someone else to talk to was all.
Next Anna turned at a small group of girls her age whom she noticed talking about Joan of Arc, her personal heroine of history.
“Joan was burned to death wasn’t she,” asked one girl?
“Yes, she was burned for claiming godly powers,” answered another.
That’s when Anna decided to make her appearance. “Hey, girls. I noticed you talking about Joan of Arc. I happen to really love studying about her. What were you saying?”
The three girls exchanged glances before one finally rolled her eyes slightly and turned to Anna. “We were just talking about how Joan of Arc was burned at the stake after all she did for her country. But you probably wouldn’t want to hear about that,” said the girl.
“Oh, no, please go on!” Anna said. “Like I said, I really love Joan. Have you been learning about her in school?”
“Um, no, actually. It kind of just came up,” the first girl quickly supplied. “We weren’t really talking about her, specifically. Sorry,” she added at the last second.
“Oh,” said Anna. “Alright. Well, nice talking to you,” she mumbled as she walked away. The signs had been obvious; they wanted her gone. No one cared. No one cared what she had to say. No one cared about her.
Anna knew that was a fear of hers, of course. She just kind of liked to keep it down and buried. That was another thing about the fear landscape. She hadn’t expected it to look this deep within her.
She took a deep, calming breath. She hadn’t needed anyone’s help back in the room with the doors. She didn’t need anyone’s help now. She would be fine by herself. She’d done it for eighteen years, she could do it a little more. Anna knelt on the green grass and soaked in the sun. She was content here. Alone.
“Anna?” asked Elsa in the hallway by the two sister’s separate rooms. They’d managed to pass each other. How did they manage to pass each other? Anna was frozen to the spot until she could regain control of herself.
“Elsa! I, I didn’t, expect to see you here!” she started. Anna winced at her own words and clasped her hands behind her back.
Elsa Rose an eyebrow and kept her mouth in a thin, straight line. “We live in the same house,” she reminded her sister.
“But it’s a big house!” Anna argued weakly. They hadn’t crossed paths in weeks. Why now? Because this is your fear landscape, Anna reminded herself. A landscape, a lie. Not real. That’s why she had run into Elsa now. Because she was scared of her.
That hurt. As much as she really loved Elsa, Anna was scared of her. She always seemed, so… mature. Like she was centuries old, even though there were only four years between them. And it’s not like they ever talked or anything.
“It is indeed,” Elsa nodded slightly in agreement with Anna’s assessment about the size of their palace.
She could do this. She could do this. Anna smiled wider. “Well, nice catching up with you!” she said, practically running to her room and shutting the door behind her. Anna looked through the keyhole to where Elsa was still standing in the hallway, looking to where Anna had gone.
She sighed, and walked to her own room, and locked her own door. Elsa was back in her room. Anna wasn’t sure if she was happy about that or not.
Anna sat hard on her bed. How would she conquer this one? It wasn’t like she could just waltz into Elsa’s room. Or maybe… It was Anna’s imagination landscape. Maybe…
Anna slowly opened up her door and snuck back into the hallway. She walked up to Elsa’s door, and, biting her bottom lip so hard she drew blood, opened it.
Elsa wasn’t in her room. It wasn’t even Elsa’s room. This was a completely different room. Her parents’.
“Anna. What are you doing here?” asked her father with a sigh.
“Um, I just…” stumbled Anna, unable to explain herself.
“Well, if you don’t know, then why don’t you follow your sister’s example and go find something worthwhile to do,” commanded her father.
What? Now her parents didn’t love her either? No one did! No one loved her! They were so caught up in Elsa and specialness and Elsa’s problems that no one cared about her! Anna ran out of her parents’ room and rammed herself against the wall so that she could lean on it. She had to get past this. She had to. Anna concentrated, and told herself that it wasn’t real, none of it. Not real. Imaginary.
The confines of the palace raced towards Anna as fast as the wind roared around Arrendelle during a storm. The beautiful tapestries and artworks on the walls disappeared until all that was left were six dark grey walls squeezing against her. Anna couldn’t breathe.
“No!” she screamed. “No! Please! Help me!” Anna pleaded to the air, hoping against hope that the walls would recede. They didn’t. Anna pushed against them with all of her might, but she couldn’t get the walls to move. She was trapped. And alone. And very, very scared.
Breathe, Anna ordered herself. Breathe. She pressed a palm to her heart. It raced along at speeds she knew her heart had never reached. Breathe. Slowly, best by best, Anna’s heart slowed and her breathing became regular. The walls receded. And Anna was left in her worst nightmare.
She thought she’d seen it all. Apparently she hadn’t. Two years after her parents drowned at sea, one year before Elsa was to be crowned queen of Arrendelle, a strange winter had taken hold of the tiny kingdom. Many perished that winter, in the snow and the cold. Including Elsa.
So Anna really and truly was alone. She’d been alone before, maybe, but there was always the chance Elsa would rekindle their friendship. There was always a chance things could get better. Now there was no hope at all.
One more time, Anna slid down her bedroom door after having locked it from the world. She was still dressed in black from Elsa’s funeral. Anna gnawed on her lip again and let the tears fall.
There was no hope for her. For Arrendelle. For anyone. There was no hope left in the world. And simulation or not, that wasn’t too far from the truth. How much hope did Anna really have left, even in the real world? Why did she bother holding on anymore?
Anna breathed in until her diaphragm couldn’t hold any more air, and held it there. She held on because she had hope. Because there was always hope. Because hope was not a thing that could be taken away. Anna released the air from her body, and stepped into reality. She had passed her fear landscape. And maybe she was better because of it.

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