A Single Candied Blossom

on the part of the hivemind they don't tell you.
20/08/2017. total words: 832

the trauma sliced you end to end, and you try to put it all behind you. you wipe the blood from your lips and start running, stumbling, until you're more lost in the woods than the monsters are. bury your past and step on the flowers meant for kinder, more innocent stories. don't look as you're running, don't stop. even when you all but fall into the clearing, in front of the campfire. you must be too broken for this. this place, this clearing, this gathering, it's full of children with shadows in their eyes and adults with smiles too bright. they all seem close, and you're an alien even here, and they still help you off the ground, find you a seat by the fire. and then you hear the words, those words that you don’t believe for a second.

it's okay to talk about what happened to you.

it is difficult to believe, for how could they have known? the way you flinch away from even vocal kindness, the way in which you shut others out- not that you mean to, but this is a strange place. a new place. you wait by the campfire and listen to the songs and chatter, and then someone who has been here a little longer, but not too much longer, starts to cry without the slightest provocation.
the words spill out of them and they tell you, tell everyone, what happened to them. it is a horrific tale, of all the monsters they faced against their will and all the pain they endured. you are disgusted that anyone could hurt them so, even though you know firsthand what the blade looks like. and yet even so, even with the brutality of their life and the scars on their face, you envy them, for at least their tears fall freely.
someone reaches out with shadows obscuring their face, and on their outstretched hand, is a candied flower blossom. the offering is accepted, and slowly, their tears stop falling.

it's okay to talk about what happened to you.

the words you've heard before, but now the meaning's changed. and maybe the words are meant as they are, not to be used against you like so many false promises before. you are not quite ready - do you think you’ll ever be ready? then one night on the campfire's edge, there is laughter, all would seem at ease, but your throat is still tight, your chest still tense, the weight in your stomach incapable of allowing you to enjoy the moment. you're still an alien.
when the words spill out of you, nobody will be expecting it, and neither will you. it starts simple, so simple- when you were three, when you were seven, when you were twelve or fifteen or thirty-six. whenever you learned that your body was glass and others had hammers, that your insides were full of thorns to pierce your skin.
they said it was okay but how could it be, it never could have been, not when you're crying this hard and the laughter is gone from the campfire's sides. they're listening, shadowed faces of those you've come to know a little, watching and occasionally blinking. if you were shaking less, if your vision blurred a little less, maybe you would have seen their expressions. but you don't take a breath and you keep telling your story. you stop not a moment too soon, it almost feels like you stopped short, but you haven't.
you gasp for a breath, and it shakes and trembles and barely fills your lungs, and it just grazes survival, let your heart beat for one more moment. it doesn't feel like enough, so you take another. in all the world it is just you and your breath.
the almost-silent proof that you are still alive.
you look up and on an outstretched hand, from a shadowed face, is a single candied flower blossom. it's slightly crumpled and a little squashed, but it is still sweet with companionship and solace.

it's okay to talk about what happened to you.

there is a new arrival today, and you can see the faint, shadowed scars on their face. their eyes shroud unspeakable horrors, they flinch away from even vocal kindness.
three others spill their sorrows around the campfire before they do, but you watch them carefully anyway, and you see the moment the light behind their eyes is set aflame, burning brightly and refusing to be extinguished, as the tears begin to fall freely, so freely, from their face.
when they are done, when they take their first breaths that they truly understand, you offer them a candied blossom. their face brightens a little, the shadows fall instead of tears, and you watch as they tell the next new arrival: it's okay to talk about what happened to you.
it is years later, and you have long since left the woods, and you learn that the flower symbolizes salvation.