The Bravery of Beatrice Braeburn

by Rebekah Sangster

Quite frankly my life was very uneventful. The first 7 years of my life had been calm and peaceful. I had grown from a seedling into a strong, confident Braeburn and I lived proudly with my brothers and sisters beside me. My smooth, green, perfectly spherical skin was the envy of all my siblings. I knew that I was a beautiful specimen, but I would never have created tension in my family on purpose. My family and I swung contentedly in the wind, dreaming of a day when we would be able to see the world. We would discuss great achievements that we would reach for and the courage we would show when we got there. Some considered us to be sweet and passive as a species, but it was our crisp, robust nature that would bring us notability.

On what appeared to be a completely average afternoon, a hand reached up and plucked me from my home. I was removed from all that was comfortable and reassuring for me and I thought to myself ‘finally, this is the beginning’. My family used to say to me that great triumphs come from great hardships so perhaps this was the great hardship I would have to endure. An adventure was laid out before me in my mind. One of travel, one of bravery and courageous exploration.

I was placed into the bottom of a crate and many of my friends and family were placed above and around me. Their weight began to push down on me reassuring me with their presence. Through the slits in the crate I could see a great, exciting world stretching out before me. Rolling hills dappled with sunlight ran across my vision and I delighted in the view.

The hand that plucked me from my home was never seen again but many others transferred me from pillar to post and finally to a great precipice that sent chills to my core. A dark cave loomed ahead of me. There was a sound and a motion that was calling me in; a faint breath that would push past me and then begin to pull me closer. The call was hypnotic in nature, daring me to inch closer. It was taunting me, goading me into moving nearer and nearer to the edge. Teetering on the edge of a great abys, I contemplated leaving. I could turn away and continue my simple and comfortable life swinging in the wind, but my sister’s words were ringing in my mind.

“Great triumphs come from great hardships Beatrice. It may not be easy for us but it is our responsibility to give as much of ourselves to others as possible. Our essence will sustain the world.”

Even then, on the edge of my greatest adventure, I wasn’t sure what she meant but with that sentiment guiding me, I looked over the edge and stepped into the unknown.

It was instantaneous. There were so many different types of attack that I could not keep at bay. Flat edged blades cut into me and I was rubbed against the edge of something that was even sharper. The points grazed my skin and I was thrown backwards with the force of a large muscle. Grinding and mastication began to break me down. In any normal life this would have been painful; but my life was not normal... anything but. Waves began to form around me. Great laps of water batted at me and broke me down. There was something menacing in the waves, lurking inside them waiting for me. With the next onslaught, I felt the enzymes seeking me out. They wanted to take away my signature crunch and break me down.

Once again, the muscle whipped at me launching me backwards, but it was clear there was no rhyme or reason to the motion. The epiglottis trapped my access telling me that this is not where I was supposed to be, and a great wind pushed me again. I was nearly thrown from the cave, ending my voyage into the unknown, but the cage of blades closed to keep me on the correct path. A final squeeze released me into the next stage of my journey.

A dark tunnel stretched ahead of me. Not nearly as picturesque as rolling fields and dappled sunlight but still intriguing. I would love to be able to say that my great explorative nature pushed me onwards. I would love to be able to say that even in the face of yet another imposing tunnel I was unwaveringly brave. I would love to be able to say all of those things, but it would it not be true. Muscles were pushing me deeper and deeper into the depths of this passageway, forcing me towards my destination taking so much of my energy away from me. The only decision that I could make would be to let this happen and encourage it, or to stand steadfast. I chose the latter. Ruining the end of the story for you is not my aim, but I can tell you that it was definitely the wrong choice.

Suddenly, I could feel the throws of movement all around me. Liquid from the cavern above was doused on my head repeatedly. The caves seemed to be suffering some sort of quake, shaking the very ground beneath my feet. I had caused some terrific grievance to the caves I was treading in causing them to convulse and twist around me. What power I had to cause pain to my surroundings! Relishing the thought of power, I remained stationary for some time whilst cries echoed on the cavern walls around me. One word was penetrating the walls. One gasping, breathless word over and over pleading with me. “Please, oh god, please.”

The impulsivity of my stand left me as quickly as it came. This place did not wish me harm, but I was hurting it. I dislodged myself quickly ending the dysphagia.

Once again, a cavern echoed around me and liquid lapped at me. It was beautiful! I could see proteins being extracted all around me whilst enzymes began working on me once again. From in the corner, I heard a faint murmur.

“So it was you causing all the chaos earlier.” It was a statement of fact rather than a question. Whoever this person was they clearly had more information than me about this place. I willed myself closer to her.

“I didn’t realise it would cause such a ruckus,” I called as way of apology.

“Excuse me ma’am... do you know where we are exactly?” Liquid rippled around me as the presence got closer. “Will you help me?”

“Help you?” a murmur startlingly close to me, “why would you need help? This is your great adventure isn’t it?”

“I know it started that way ma’am, but I think I would like to go home now. This has been quite enough adventure for one day.”

“You will not be able to leave I’m afraid. Everyone in here leaves the same way and no one comes out of it unchanged. Little one this is your destiny.”

“I hate to be impolite, but how is this my destiny? I seem to have spent many hours being attacked and pushed and pulled and mushed and not a single second of it felt like destiny.” I was trying to be courteous but the anger in my voice shone through. I was not little!

“You do not understand yet little one. This place is where we come to start our new lives. We have so many things to offer these caverns that you do not even know yet. You have struggled through your journey rather than give yourself the experience and it has left you exhausted. Am I correct?” A slight turn of my head away from this woman seemed to be enough answer for her. “Then let me give you some advice. Give yourself to this place. It is the way of our kind. We live to support these caves, to give them the energy that they need. These enzymes are here to help us with that, not attack you as you think they are”

In a typically childish fashion, I grumbled something under my breath that resembled an agreement but when I turned to speak to the woman once more to thank her, she had gone. 4 fours passed in this soup of enzymes. More proteins left me, and I was left even more worried as I moved to the final stage of my journey although I didn’t yet know it.

In this new set of tunnels in what seemed to be an endless labyrinth, I had a moment to contemplate. So much of my journey so far had been done to me and it left me feeling helpless. I was a passive observer in my fate instead of taking ownership of the process. The wise lady had told me it was within my control and so I decided no more. I focussed deep in myself, pulling on every scrap of bravery that I had. With one final burst of energy I let myself go. All the nutrients from my being were absorbed by the wall of this seemingly never-ending system of caves and pathways. It was a joyous moment of pure light. The shackles of my form fell away like sand from a dune and I burst forth into this brave new realm of energy and power.

Parts of me that no longer mattered were excreted from the caves and disposed of. I did not miss them though I did not envy them their long, arduous journey. They could not be of any purpose, so they travelled the weary 7 and a half metre journey to their final destination. I was now invaluable! I soared like never before. Swinging placidly in the wind was nothing compared to this feeling, this freedom. From biceps and triceps, to deltoids and abdominals nothing was beyond my reach. I made no discrimination between cardiac, smooth, and skeletal leaping and frolicking through the body providing sustenance and vigour.