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Sanctuary in Myself This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

It wasn't always my place. My sanctuary. My escape. The place I could go when the rest of the world just seemed to spin its sorrows around me in an endless web. Before it was mine, it belonged to my older brothers'. Step brothers really. After my mom met my dad, the only one I had ever really known, my family had grown. Kenny and Nick were their names. They showed me the fort. The fort that lay only a short way from their home, yet grew in distance as they grew older. I remember that day as if it happened only yesterday.

The woods around me pulsed with life. My tiny feet struggled to keep up with the large strides of my brothers. The slopes of the forest trail rose and fell like the breath of the forest itself. Finally, we stepped into what they referred to as "The Fort." I didn't think it was very original. The Fort. It was an all too obvious and bland name. An oxymoron, describing a place which was anything but those things. It wasn't obvious, but hidden and subtle in its beauties. Nevertheless, I kept the name, as a respect to those who founded it.

I remember standing in the circle of trees, enclosing me like the warm comforting embrace of Mother. The line of bushy pine trees acted as a shield from the trouble outside of it. Inside, only I existed. The brilliant, various shades of green colored the background to which I was forever a part of. Rough rocks, grey in color, but not grey in meaning, littered the area, each having its own purpose.

"Sit on the couch," Kenny told me, indicating to a long rock.

Apprehensive, I sat down. The rock felt cool and reliving like a cold shower in the summer. I closed my eyes and listened. The forest breathed life, singing its song in a quiet rhythmic tone. A song which seemed more soothing than a lullaby. A soft wind caressed my face, taking all my troubles on its sigh and carrying them far away. At that moment I knew, this place would be more than a friend. This impenetrable fortress of solitude would hold my secrets and not breath a word. It would listen with eager ears and comforting eyes. It would take my troubles, and lock them away in a sealed vault. It would lose the key among its dirt and pine needles.

As time passed, the Fort became mine more than anyone else's. Kenny and Nick stopped coming, the knife of age thieving the simple joys of childhood. Now, only I come here. Only I know, or care to remember. Yet, in a way, perhaps it is better this way. Now I have a place to call mine, the one thing in the world I can truly say that of. It holds my tears, my joys and my sorrows. The joyful memories that come with a summer's day, and the bitter tears which come with death. I am this place, and it is me. This simple fact, and only this fact, makes it mine and lets it stay mine. We all know nothing else in this world can be held on to. Memories, possessions, people, they all fade. You, yourself, always remains. And so this place shall stay mine.





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