It's been around eleven days since I left the valley, and I can honestly say, it's finally beginning to get easier in some ways, but not all. I was a fool to believe it wouldn't be hard, on so many levels, and I still can't get my head around my own naivety. Knowing then what I do now, I don't think I would have left at all.
It's not just the survival factor that gets to you, it's the isolation, the loneliness, the living in constant high alert as you have to be aware of all that is around you, and the gnawing fear that sits in your gut hour after hour. I'm on edge, hyper-aware at all times, and mentally exhausted with it. Unable to ever really stop watching my back, and surroundings, always listening to make sure I'm safe, and afraid of even the tiniest of noises or movement near me. There are so many enemies in nature that I was oblivious to when living in the mountain bubble.
I rarely sleep, so tuned into the noises of the forests, and gulleys, and caverns, I have walked through in recent days. Always listening for something to come out of the shadows at me, and have endless dreams when I do, of vampires and monsters pulling me from my tiny crawl spaces before devouring my helpless body. Every time I'm paralyzed with the same useless inadequacy as that day in the orphanage, and completely unable to defend myself. I see Sierra often in my dreams too, my infrequent naps, and that repetitive sentence she utters on her breath which always wakes me with a start. Always the same damn thing.
I don't understand why she haunts me still, and can only imagine it has to do with my broken heart, and the dregs of Colton in my memory banks, that get through the steel door I'm trying to force them behind. She was one of our last conversations and maybe that's why she plays so heavily on my mind.
The first few days were the worst and thankfully behind me now, and I think it finally sunk in what I was actually doing. The first night, looking for shelter, eating Doritos I had hastily packed in my backpack for supper, and trying to find a comfy way to lie in a shallow hard floored dug out on a hillside that barely concealed me. It was a shock to my system; having come from a lifetime of shelter and home cooked meals I took for granted. Even being myself all those years, I was never alone, or without food and a roof over my head, whereas now here I am, truly in solitude.
I didn't sleep at all at first, everything swirling in my head and the cravings for not just Colton, but Meadow, the sub pack, my room in the pack house, and the safety of the valley. It was all crying out to me, reminding me that I was barely grown and only newly turned and still so vulnerable in so many ways. I sobbed so much in the first few days, I thought it would break me and send me running back with my tail between my legs, but it didn't.