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Amanda Clauer

"Face" Remi Ruggeberg

Life tears through a forest with an animal, collecting several burrs on her way. She finds a thicket and tosses the weak animal inside; it contains a dead tree, thorns, and burrs. The injured animal yowls in pain and Life turns away. It cries for mercy, not wanting to be isolated in pain. Life neglects the creature, fiercely removes the burrs she’s collected and pitches them to the dying forest floor. The animal’s yowls echo until it realizes Life isn’t going to save it. 


The animal slowly walks back to Life, wanting solace. Life pauses, glares, and harshly grabs the animal by the scruff, throwing it harder than before. The animal strikes against a living tree this time and lands in more thorns and burrs. It yowls again, but this time only for a moment.


Life goes to pick off hundreds of burrs, for she is massive and the animal is insignificantly small. 


The animal crawls out from the thicket and licks itself clean of its burrs, struggling because of its fur, slowly regaining Life’s attention. Life remains occupied with removing her embarrassing burrs. The animal cautiously creeps away from her, a courageous move. Life was too bothered to torture the animal any further. The animal spotted a den and sat inside. Its calm gaze looked upon Life. Life paused and gazed back. Their eyes met; two different emotions snapped in the air—thunder cracked and the sky turned gray. The animal held its calm gaze while Life stared in awe. 


The animal was challenged, beaten, and scarred. It was helpless. The dead tree brought it grief, the living tree brought it jealousy, the thorns pierced its skin, the burrs clung to its fur. But the animal came back, and it grew.


Life made the animal suffer.


The animal made Life respect it. 


The animal looked the same, but it had become a beast. 


The beast spoke to Life, in a different language but she understood. The beast had forgiven Life and thanked her. The beast understood that Life was cruel and unfair because that's the only way you can grow.


The beast understood that Life was about how you overcome things, and not how you suffer.


Life smiled and reached to touch the beast; she glowed again and the dead forest floor bloomed green. She slowly moved away from the forest, for her duty was done, and the beast followed her into the new golden sunlight.

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