The Fortress


There once was a girl who lived in a tiny brick room in a huge fortress.


The fortress belonged to her, but she knew she was not the only owner.  Other people, whom she didn’t know, also lived in the fortress.  She mostly stayed to her little room, but somehow the fortress was growing larger.  Every day there were more and more rooms, hallways, and new sections.  The fortress was meant to keep out intruders, so it was built like a maze, with crooked hallways and strange arrangements of the rooms.


One day, after being in her room for quite some time, she tried to open her door, and couldn’t.  The door wouldn’t open. Someone had built a brick wall right outside of it and it would only budge an inch.  She found out that the newer rooms were being built around her room, and she couldn’t get out anymore.  She wondered how she could escape.  She couldn’t climb out the window because there was a deep chasm below it.  There was no explanation of why this was happening.   She couldn’t imagine why anyone would have done this.


Banished to her little room and with nothing to do, she began to write. She used all of her notebooks and even the walls, and she wrote thousands of stories. They were all about boundless fields and open landscapes, and wild people from other countries she’d never been to, who could roam anywhere they wanted. Meanwhile, the fortress kept growing around her.  She could hear them building.  There were new hallways, new stairways, and many new rooms every day. Yet the girl could not leave the room.  She still couldn’t even open the door.   She began to hate her surroundings and wish to destroy everything in sight.


When there was no more paper or wall space to write on, she began to sing.  She invented songs and poems about being free and escaping from the fortress. She slept more and more, dreaming about open fields, dreaming that she was outside the room and outside the fortress, looking in.


One day she woke up and realized that her room was different somehow. She looked around and finally knew what it was that was different – everything was closer together. Her window was smaller. Her door was smaller. She was so frightened that she started thinking about breaking the window and diving in to the chasm outside her window.   She knew she would surely die if she did this, but it would be better than being stuck here. But something told her that wouldn’t be right. Still, she spent more time than ever – all day and most of the night – singing and dreaming about other lands, far way meadows that stretched on forever, and she prayed to God to be rescued from the fortress. She chanted out words of being free and far away.


But the next day, her room was smaller still. And the next day it was smaller than that. Finally it was so small that there was just a tiny point of light for a window, and just enough space for her bed. She went to sleep that day and tried to leave her body. She tried to make all the walls disappear and give way to a tremendous landscape of hills and fields, with no buildings in sight.   But she would wake up, and the walls would be real as ever.


The girl kept sleeping, dreaming of freedom for an unknown period of time, until something very strange happened.   One day, she was dreaming about one of her landscapes and she saw something in the distance of her mind, among many trees and flowers, on a great plain. It was a large brick building. In her dream she began to walk towards it, and it grew bigger and bigger. She walked through the door and into winding hallways, through many endless brick rooms and up and down many stairways.   She wondered what this place was here for.  She wondered what it was supposed to protect against – certainly there was nothing in this idyllic place that could be dangerous.


Finally she found a wall, standing alone in front of a door to a small room.  The room was very hard and solid.  She sensed that behind this wall the room was closed in, and it was enclosed that way mistakenly.  She could not see in or get into it.  She noticed that there were no other people in the entire building, but she sensed there might be someone in this closed-in room. She noticed how efficiently it was held closed, and what a good job someone had done putting this obstruction there to close it off. She felt the bricks of the four outside walls of the room, and noticed how dense they were.


When the girl awoke from her dream, she could still see the vision of the outside of the room. And she wrote a song about how well the room was built, and how interesting the fortress was, with its many hallways and compartments. She took the stories she had written about escaping and tore them up. She cleaned the writings off the walls and looked at them for a long time. She decided that they were not bad walls, they were strong, good walls. They did a good job of keeping her here, safe from the outside world. She fell asleep thinking about all the parts of the huge fortress she was in.  Her fortress. She dreamed very vividly about every part of every stairway and every room.


When she woke up, she opened the door and stepped outside into the beautiful green field.


Lane K. Eddington

January 11, 1997