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It had been raining all week in Waldmeer. Some of the roads had closed due to landslides. There was mud everywhere. Maria had been having nightmares. On the way to see Erdo, she had a foreboding feeling which was made worse by him not being there when she arrived. She crossed the rampaging river and decided to walk up the hill which Erdo normally came from. The forest was getting darker. It must be going to rain again, thought Maria. The nightmare was creeping in. Sensing it, she walked more slowly until her footsteps were silent and carefully making their way through the trees, lest she offend the approaching enemy. She didn’t want to continue but going back seemed as daunting as going forward.

As soon as she reached the top of the hill, she stopped dead in her tracks. A dense and terrible power was coming up from the valley and deliberately moving towards her. The nightmare was back and far worse than before. This was out of her depth. It seemed all the evil in this world and more. She felt its intention was to sweep her up effortlessly with barely a glance, crush every bone in her body, and drop her to die painfully somewhere below. Terror immobilised both her body and her mind. Wake up, she heard herself say. This time there was no waking up because she wasn’t asleep. She was a tiny leaf, about to be brutally crushed. As the pressure from the monster was closing in on her, a distant memory called from deep within her.

“Maria, it is I. I am with you. I never left you. I know this monster. It is defeatable. Listen carefully to me. You made the monster. Now, unmake it,” said a female voice. The voice was familiar, yet, Maria didn’t know who it was. At this point, it didn’t matter.

“Unmake it? How? I am terrified and it is crushing me,” said Maria.

“Stand your ground. Do not close your eyes. Look at it,” said the voice. Maria looked. It was horrible. Suffering and pain. “Look deeper. It is the world that you and your brothers and sisters have created. It is but a nightmare.” As Maria looked more closely, her terror started to soften. “Let it be blown away as nothing. I am here waiting for you,” said the voice.

Let it be blown away as nothing. I am here waiting for you, repeated Maria. The darkness was breaking up. Maria’s body was no longer under pressure. The trees were becoming visible. The sun started to glisten on the wet leaves. There settled a sense of harmony, peace, and safety. After a little while, Maria felt that it would be impossible for anything to ever hurt her again.

Erdo walked over the hill as if nothing had happened. “I am sorry that I am late, Maria. Did you need me?”

“I am fine, thanks, Erdo,” was all Maria could say. “I will be going home now.” As Maria calmly and gratefully walked back, she sensed that she was becoming a different person, that she had aged many years, perhaps, many lifetimes in those few moments. She had never felt so well, hopeful, and contented.

“Well done, Amira,” Erdo called out to Maria as he waved from the top of the hill.

Amira? Maria thought. Erdo is old. Sometimes, he gets his students’ names muddled up.

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