IMPERIAL IMP

By Jenny Benham

I WAS LOST WALKING THROUGH THE SCRUB
IT WAS COLD, WET
I FELT A TIREDNESS DEEP WITHIN WHEN I HEARD A RIPPLE – A CRY LIKE THE CRY OF A TRAPPED OR WOUNDED ANIMAL. I LOOKED AHEAD AND ALLOWED MYSELF TO SEE BEYOND MY OWN DARKNESS. I SAW A SAPLING. OR WHAT I THOUGHT WAS A SAPLING, ABOUT TO SNAP IN HALF. BUT AFTER THIS, ER, SAPLING WRIGGLED AND JIGGLED AND KINDA DANCED IN THE WIND IT SLID DOWN AGAINST THE ROCKS. I WAS READY TO DISMISS THIS AND KEEP WALKING WHEN I HEARD A DEFINITE SNIFFLE.
MY CURIOSITY AROUSED, I LOOKED CLOSER AND THERE BLENDED INTO THE GENERAL DEBRIS OF THE SCRUB WAS THIS BENT AND TWISTED SAPLING. I HEARD THE SNIFFLE AGAIN.
I STEPPED CLOSER. I WAS SURE IT WAS COMING FROM THE SAPLING. I BENT DOWN AND… WHAM! THE SAPLING ERUPTED INTO ACTION. THERE STARING RIGHT AT ME WERE TWO EYES FULL OF FEAR AND A FACE STAINED WITH RIVERS OF TEARS. THEY TRIED TO HIDE THEMSELVES ONCE MORE, TO HIDE THEIR PRESENCE.
SO, BEING HIGHLY EDUCATED IN TALKING TO SAPLINGS WITH FACES, I SORT OF SPOKE REAL SLOW AND LOUD, ‘ARE YOU OK?’
‘I’M LOST HERE IN THIS SCRUB OF DOOM. NO ONE WANTS TO TALK TO ME BECAUSE SAPLINGS CAN’T TALK BUT I AM NOT A SAPLING! I AM AN IMPERIAL IMP AND I’VE SLIPPED THROUGH A CRACK IN THE MIRROR OF REALITY AND I WANT TO GO HOME BUT I DON’T KNOW HOW!’ THEY SHOUTED BACK AT ME.
I HAD TO ASK, THOUGH MY BRAIN WAS STARTING TO WONDER IF I WAS LOSING GRIP ON MY REALITY ONCE MORE (TREES DON’T TALK AND WHAT IN EARTH IS A MIRROR OF REALITY?),  “AND HOW DID YOU SLIP THROUGH?’
THEY SNIFFED AGAIN ‘WHAT DO YOU CARE? NO ONE CARES.’
SUDDENLY, THOUGH I AM DEFINITELY NOT A SAPLING OR AN IMPERIAL IMP, I REALISED HOW SIMILAR OUR JOURNEYS COULD BE AND I ASKED,
‘MAY I SIT HERE’
‘WHY – DON’T YOU JUST WANT TO GO HOME WHERE YOU CAN FEEL WARM AND SAFE?’
‘WE COULD TALK FOR A BIT IF YOU WOULD LIKE. I WOULD LIKE TO HEAR YOUR STORY. I TOO AM IN THIS SCRUB OF DARKNESS AND THOUGH I CAN’T EXPERIENCE YOUR PAIN I CAN LISTEN AND MAYBE TOGETHER WE CAN BUILD SOME IDEAS THAT WILL HELP YOU FIND YOUR WAY BACK TO YOUR REALITY.’
‘YOU WILL TALK TO ME? YOU DON’T CARE THAT I’M DIFFERENT?’
‘I’VE NEVER SPOKEN TO AN IMPERIAL IMP BUT I DON’T THINK THAT MATTERS. I CAN FEEL YOUR PAIN, YOUR SADNESS. I KNOW WHEN I WAS REALLY LOST IT HELPED ME THAT OTHERS STILL HAD FAITH IN MY STRENGTH AND THEY HELPED ME FIND SPACE WITHIN MYSELF FOR THAT STRENGTH TO RECENTER. MY REALITY HAD CRUSHED AROUND ME. MY REALITY IS DIFFERENT NOW BUT IF THOSE THINGS HAD NOT HAPPENED MAYBE I WOULD NOT BE HERE AND WE WOULD NOT HAVE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE, TO TALK. OR IF YOU LIKE WE CAN JUST SIT AND WAIT FOR THE STORM TO SETTLE. MAYBE WE CAN SHARE THE STORIES OF OUR REALITIES. WHO KNOWS, MAYBE WE WILL FIND A PLACE WHERE WE CAN BOTH CENTRE OUR STRENGTHS AND BE.

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