Appearances

There is an expectation that when we present ourselves, we need to present the flawless version. Not only to be above reproach, but (and perhaps more importantly) to be above criticism.
Hide your flaws because they will leave you open to scorn. Cover up your mistakes because they will discredit you.
But our flaws do not lessen us. They make us perfectly imperfect. Mistakes are a part of growth. Do not be afraid of growth. And the level of effort it takes to hide who we are, guarantees that we will burn out.
For today’s blog, it was my aim to choose a novel selection that was edited, polished, and refined. That did not happen, and I stressed. Then, my sister told me a story of a young woman who was at the top of her field; medals, accolades and prestige! And at the very core, dangerously unhappy. The image she projected was perfection. But that image meant that she could never fail. Not once.
I don’t want to be perfect. I want, simply, to be myself and for that to be enough. And so, here is a novel excerpt from a series that I’m working on. An unpolished piece of my heart…

Passion’s Shadow
Bracken felt a pull on his spirit; one whose call was strong and urgent. He’d always been a being of instinct, and saw no reason to start distrusting it. With a message to friends he moved away. Where he was headed was a mystery. But what was life without adventure? Or, in his case, what was the afterlife without an adventure every few centuries? So, he left all he knew to follow a call he didn’t.

The essence of his spirit was that of a wolf; being a creature of instinct and pack values, he understood why this form was his. But in this realm, as he moved, he flickered between the incandescent wolf and an amorphous globe of energy.

In the Spirit Realm there was no sense of distance and no body to fatigue. So, he wasn’t really sure just how far or long he’d been travelling when a strange and massive energy picked his soul up. It was powerful without being frightening, and it carried him far away from what he knew. Those he loved felt his departure. They were concerned but he reassured them, even though he didn’t have answers. But he was okay, and someday he would find a way to return to them. They sent their love, providing him with energy and strength of spirit.

Blinding light clouded his spiritual vision; the vision that let him see the energies present in all beings. Disoriented he reached out to those he held close. But suddenly, though he still felt their love, he was no longer in contact with them. For the first time he was uneasy, displaying this with a growl deep in his chest and a shake of his head.

He paused. The light vanished, and a new light took its place. This of the sun, a bright yellow light providing warmth to his mortal body. He had once been mortal, or so he vaguely recalled. It had been so long ago that the memories were disjointed. Almost as though they hadn’t happened at all. Or, had to someone else.

Physical eyes now sat within his head, and they saw images of what was about. They saw him. Four paws with non-retractable claws to tear up the earth, a tail to stabilize as he ran, and white fur so long it flowed in the breeze. His ears moved atop his canine head, catching the sounds of something large happening ahead. There was anger in the sounds and death was on the wind, blood that he could smell. The call which had brought him here was now beckoning him towards the death.

He did not understand what was happening to him, but instinct told him to trust the call. He’d come this far after all. So, Bracken moved towards the shouting, the strange clanging, and the screams. His powerful muscles propelled him at great speeds. The ground beneath his massive paws was churned up as he left a trail in his wake. His ears moved back to cut out the sounds of the wind rushing by. His snout picked up a wealth of scents that were both new and old to him. The air passed through his snout to his lungs as he felt muscles straining to eat up the distance.

The forest broke up leaving only open field, cut down and argued for by the hands of man. This much he did remember; man’s greed to fulfill only his needs at the cost of the land. Pausing at the edge he paced uneasily, his white paws crossing over each other. His tail swept over his rear legs as he doubled back tightly. To venture from the woods would leave him exposed. Sense told him to keep to the cover. He was mortal now and he doubted that man had changed that much.

But the call still pulled at his heart. Something was out there that he needed to get to. He tested the wind with mouth open. Man was out there. The sounds were loud, and he began to recognize them for the sounds of battle; men fighting men. If he had any sense, he’d turn from it.

Bracken burst from the cover of the trees, sending leaves and uprooted grass floating behind him. Across the fields he ran, his ears back and his head lower than his shoulders. Birds flew up from the field around him. They were frightened by his presence though they needn’t be. They were in no danger from him.

Fields stretched out behind him as he quickly ate up the leagues. Lather formed at his open mouth. He shot around a pile of rocks left untouched in a field. It was time to harvest soon yet there were no men in the fields and no attempt to care for the crops. It was a sign of troubled times. The call grew more insistent.

He ran up a small hill to come to a skidding halt at the crest. Ahead of him was a small army. It was clear that they had seen battle, for the scent of blood was heavy upon them. Anger filled his being at their wake of destruction so evident behind them. The men drudged on with heavy hearts and even heavier swords. They would stop if not for the men upon horseback urging them on.

He stood atop the hill with the wind pulling at his long, white fur. Staring upon the men he caught one soldier’s attention. With a pointing hand that soldier called to those nearby to look. Quickly more eyes found Bracken. Fear and uncertainty grew within the men. He stood motionless, other than his fur in the wind. Soon the entire disheveled army was looking upon him.

He turned away, knowing that what called him was not down there. He vanished from their sight as he moved down the far side of the hill. Once again, his strong legs moved him into a run. His path led him parallel to that which the army had moved. The trail those men had left was one of death and ruin. Life meant nothing to these men.

He heard screams of torture upon the wind. Help was needed. Bracken moved to follow but the call stilled his feet. He was needed here, among the dead. Ears back and head down gave him a soft look. Amid a field of corpses, he moved slowly till he felt the one he’d come in search of. The final breath escaped, and the final soul left the battle.

He picked the blood-soaked body up in his mouth. Death was never the end.
written by: Selina Elliot

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