A Maze in Me

My father was a connoisseur of Greek myths. He told me countless times, with his silver tongue, the tale of the Labyrinth and the Minotaur. As a young girl, I fashioned myself as Ariadne, unwinding a ball of red yarn while prancing down the hallways of old country home. I dreamed of a gallant Theseus to sweep me off my feet. That is until, I learned him to be an abandoner.

I even became an architect. Blueprints clutter the floor of my current apartment in the city. I take inspiration from classical architecture; when I see Corinthian and Ionic columns, I swoon. I wake up excited to start each new day on the job. I love watching an empty stretch of land turn into an empire of diverse structures.

I embraced the myth—my father’s favorite myth. It molded me.

But I’m deathly afraid of mazes. Never have I desired to enter an extensive labyrinth or build one of my own regulations.

– – – – –

It happened when I was thirteen. There was a carnival in a neighboring town that I attended with my friends. The main attraction was the corn maze. The farmer claimed it was his best one yet. Everyone was intrigued—including me.

In the comfort of bright daylight, my friends and I entered the maze. I figured it would be a simple one. Just stick to the left. That’s what my father taught me. And he was right. In no time, we made it to the exit that was marked with a purple flag. There was nothing special or scary about it.

It was disappointing to me, but my friends simply moved on to the candy apples, the games, the zoo animals, etc., etc. I followed them around until it was just too painful. I knew it was probably all in my head but I felt the maze trying to lure me back in.

There was a voice coming from inside. Loud. Imperative.

Come.

The sky dimmed once I stepped back inside the maze.

My father’s voice entered my head again: Stick to the left.

This time, I ignored his advice. I wanted to explore this time.

Instead, I got lost. The moon was too faint of a lantern to guide me. I wasn’t afraid of the dark. But fears come to life in such an ominous place.

I wandered around aimlessly through the erratic paths. I kept telling myself I was Ariadne.

Ariadne without any red yarn.

With my eyesight down, my ears were on high alert. The wind howled. The corn stalks conversed with each other. There whispers came out as a chant, constantly growing, echoing. They were chanting in a language I couldn’t understand.

But I did understand.

Sac-ri-fice Sac-ri-ficeeee Sac-ri-fice.

I knew my father’s favorite myth too well to not understand.

I gave up on trying to be brave. I stuck to the left. Step after step. Minute after minute. Hour after hour. Yet I saw no opening. I saw no purple flag. Had the maze changed? Did the walls of corn stalks shift?

Crying out didn’t help either. I could see the faint lights of the carnival festivities from afar but I couldn’t hear anything of the people there. All I could hear was the chant.

Sac-ri-fice Sac-ri-ficeeee Sac-ri-fice.

Stick to the left. Stick to the left. Stick to the left!

Nothing could block out the chant.

I fell to the ground and clenched my ears.

When I was brave enough to let go, I was blessed with silence. Such an insubstantial blessing.

I shivered. The cold nipped at my nose, my ears, my feet. My hands felt around for something on the ground. Anything. Red yarn.

Instead, I grasped a thin stick.

I wrote a message in the dirt. A message that couldn’t be heard but could maybe be read later.

H E L P.

stuck in a maze.

help

I kept going, even as tears rolled down my cheeks.

A maze.                                   Amaze.                                    A maze.

Amaze me.                 

A                      maze                           me

A                      maze               in                     me

A maze is inside of me.

Get it.                                                               Out.

Let me.                                                            Out.                                                     

Rescue me.

A low growl struck me out of my crazed, cold stupor.

The chant started up again.

Sac-ri-fice Sac-ri-ficeeee Sac-ri-fice.

Another faint growl.

Against all the reason, the sound lured me in. Was it a beast in the guise of a Siren?

I crawled down the path. Left or right, I have no idea. The growl sounded in shorter intervals. Louder and louder. Even louder than the chant of the corn stalks.

I knew it was the Minotaur. It had to be.

And I knew I was the sacrifice, but I kept crawling. I just had to see…

I turned the next corner—

There was a body.

– – – – –

I woke up and they told me it was just a scarecrow. I couldn’t believe them. But I had to.

I was broken for a while, but I suffered for less than the reasonable length of time. Or that’s at least what the doctors told my father.

I got back up on my feet and continued on with life. I stayed clear of mazes. Of tight spaces. Of getting lost anywhere. Of going anywhere alone in the dark. But I still became an architect. I still listened to my father recount the tale of the Labyrinth and the Minotaur.

I also met my Dionysus. My rescuer. He helps me cope with the nightmares and never disparages it to just a ‘child’s fear’ as many have done before.

After all this, I still fear the Minotaur.

But I know he’s not invincible.

– – ♥

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