The Valley of Shadows

At the mention of moving on, Daisy felt her stomach lurch uncomfortably. She knew she wasn’t past her fears yet. Doc sensed her unease, but continued.

“Your journey is about carrying onwards.” He smiled knowingly, “You can always come back in the future if you need to. Just remember to cross the valley. It is not how you feel but what you do that matters”.

Doc concluded by giving both Milo and Daisy an encouraging hug. With heartfelt warmth, they thanked him for everything he had done.

“I believe in you both,” were his parting words.

That night, Daisy slept poorly. She woke repeatedly, assailed by worries. She feared leaving the security of the woods and found herself already missing Doc’s sage company and the comfort of the group meetings. Although Milo appeared ready to leave come morning, he felt anxious despite his desire to move on and find the answers to his questions.

Despite Daisy’s reservations, they soon made their way toward the bridge, accompanied by the same vole Milo had encountered the day of their arrival. Daisy asked him about the valley. At first the vole was hesitant to divulge anything, but when pressed, he told them the place was known as the Valley of Shadows. It had a fearsome reputation and many animals turned back, too frightened to venture further. But he also said that others passed through easily. Milo and Daisy exchanged nervous glances.

As they approached the bridge, the vole turned toward them.

“This is what we call the ‘Do it however you feel bridge’. There’s no one for you to talk to at this bridge. It’s up to you.” He glanced over the arch of the bridge toward the other side, “I can tell you as many times as you like that if you go through the valley you’ll be alright, but ultimately it’s up to you. Now it’s time for me to leave. Good luck. You’ll be fine.”

As he scurried away, Milo and Daisy stood looking at the bridge. Milo felt apprehension and excitement warring inside him. Daisy, however, felt sick with nerves; she felt cold shivers running along her small spine. Despite all this, she knew it was time to face her fears. Looking to each other for mutual support, they moved forwards and crossed the ‘Just do it bridge’ together. Before either had a chance to reconsider, they stood at the top of a valley. Milo turned to a shivering Daisy.

“I’ll go ahead to see if it’s safe. When I’ve crossed over I’ll give you a wave and a loud shout to let you know that it’s safe to cross.”

The valley was an unusual place with odd clearings amongst the green foliage. The daylight struck the bushes and flowers at odd angles, casting a patchwork of strange patterns and shadows. Milo guessed this was how the valley came by its name. He moved forwards, sensing that despite the place’s daunting atmosphere, there would be no problem passing through.

He hoped that Daisy would find it fairly easy too. After a short while of scampering through the foliage, he reached the bottom of the valley. Another bridge stood before him. He crossed over and carried on climbing, determined to reach the top of the other side of the valley. Pushing on through the undergrowth, he climbed until he reached a big, flat rock at the top. Pausing for breath, he turned to survey the land. Grinning, he reached out his little paws and yelled across the valley. “Daisy it’s safe to cross!”

Daisy heard his shout. Now it was her turn. Still apprehensive, she crept forward, immediately aware of the shadows. The light made these strange contortions appear quite ominous. In her delicate state, she thought she could see dark shapes looming over her. She felt the ripples of her fear building into steady waves. She wanted to go back to Doc, but she also wanted to reach Milo. She managed to edge forward, torn between a flood of memories; her brother and the cat, the events of the last few days and things that might happen to her in the future. As she reached the bottom of the valley, the panic broke upon her in crushing waves. She froze and put her head in her paws. She felt trapped, unable to conquer her fear. Then she remembered Trudi, the chiffchaff.

‘If you are ever afraid, I’ll be there for you.’

Daisy let out a wail, calling for help. Almost instantly, Trudi swooped down. The bird landed next to her. Unknown to Daisy and Milo, since her rescue, Trudi had never been far from these two companions, keeping an eye on them both. She knew the reputation of the Valley of Shadows and had been circling high above, keeping a sharp eye.

Trudi spoke softly, but with conviction.

“I am here for you. I can see the whole valley from above. You’re safe, Daisy. Milo has passed safely through. The ground is the same as any other.” She cocked her little head at the shadows, “The shadows are just tricks. You see whatever you want in them. There is nothing to fear but fear itself. Trust me, trust yourself. Face your fears and they will disappear. Just ahead there’s a bridge. Cross it and go on. Do it no matter what and you will be fine.”

Daisy peered up at Trudi through her paws. The bird touched her wing to Daisy’s paw, chirped brightly and took to the skies.

From deep inside, Daisy felt a sudden surge of courage– courage and the desire and determination to go on. She decided in that instant to cross the bridge. Suddenly the shadows didn’t seem as scary, or the darkness so ominous. They were just bushes and weeds; her imagination had fooled her into thinking and believing the worst. Heartened by this realisation and her newfound courage, she sped up the path to the bridge. Excitement and elation chased back her fears. She crossed over and continued up the other side until she saw Milo waiting for her. He waved wildly, grinning. She rushed up to him, embraced him with her tiny paws and cheered ecstatically.

“I did it! I did it! I’m fine! I’m fine!”

Chapter 5. Epic