The soft crunch of boots on freshly fallen snow was the only sound that clouded the frosty air. Violet made her way carefully down an unmarked path, which she was marking now just for herself, as no one else shared the path with her. Amidst the bleak atmosphere, the infamous Robert Frost poem suddenly came to mind.
Whose woods these are, I think I know
His house is in, the village though
She had been in these woods before, but not of recent. She used to live in a village and wished nothing had to change. But a lot of things had changed since the last time she was here, hadn’t they? Years ago, she hated both the woods and snow. But the two put together now offered a sense of comfort, a promise of shelter and peace and aloneness.
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow
It was true, no one could see her here, for acres of blanketed snow –white oaks and evergreens held her in a caress under their loose – fitting canopy. The woods belonged to her, at this moment, no matter if anyone else had trudged through the weather that same day.
My little horse, must think it’s queer
To stop, without a farmhouse near
Violet pitied the little horse. She knew what the feeling of confusion was like, of being in the dark for so long. Like asking a heart to stop loving another without a place to heal. Like being unprepared for your expectations to come crashing down.
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year
She remembered, in painstaking detail, the darkest day that her life would ever encounter. Everything she thought she knew proved her to be terribly, horribly wrong. She let the feeling of uncontrollable shivers overtake her and pretended it was because of the cold. She wasn’t sure exactly where her path was taking her, but continued on, if only for the air to numb her thoughts.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask, if there is some mistake
She hoped that she had made a mistake, one that was easily fixable. But too late, she realized, that whatever it was that caused him to shatter her like a million icicles on concrete, was the breaking point. She couldn’t go back to how it was before, as much as she longed to. The physical stains of pain she kept hidden under her winter clothing was a constant reminder.
The only other sound’s the sweep. Of easy wind and downy flake
The wind didn’t feel as easy as it did before, as the dark strands of her hair cut across her face in violent motions. She didn’t want to think of that day and those sounds now, a mix of anger and sadness all rolled up into one heart-wrenching experience. Suddenly feeling self-conscious, she wrapped herself up in the security of her own hands. But was she really secure there?
A couple minutes later Violet found herself at the edge of the woods, where a frozen lake sat glassed over, a fragile surface. A few hesitant steps and a lean forward was all it took. She stared back at the scratchy reflection of a broken girl, with eyes that looked darker and skin that had lost all color, except for the unmistakable purple and brown circles under her eye, on the side of her cheek, and other random spots on her body. The sight of them repulsed her, and she began to feel sick, choking back on sobs that she somehow still had more of.
She suddenly felt silly for thinking that a walk alone would clear her mind and heart of the ache that ripped at her every moment since the incident. She knew it wouldn’t be difficult to crack open a slice of the frozen water, or to wait a couple hours to get hypothermia, and end her hurt once and for all. The intensity of her own stare scared her. She refused to look any longer, stifling back tears, and reached for something to break the ice.
But then she remembered the last stanza of the poem.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep
The marks on her skin didn’t define her. She knew that; that’s why she broke off the relationship, isn’t it? She had plenty of promises to make to herself and her worried family members, to ensure she would take care of herself. She would be strong to let go of the past, instead of weak to end the present, and begin the journey of her future, even if it looked unclear. Heading back towards the woods, she took a path less traveled by and began a new journey with miles to go, and promises to keep.