The Courage Within Huckleberry Finn

In the novel Huckleberry Finn, there are many characters that enact the characteristic Courage. It is about a young boy who runs away from his unhappy, Christian life into the dangers of the Southern wild. Along side him joins a runaway slave, Jim, who sticks by his side in order to go North for freedom. Huck has to deal with his conscious by deciding if the right thing to do is turn Jim in or not.  Huck learns that Jim is a caring man that wants to set his family free from the Slave Owners.  Over the journey Jim explains how Huck is the only white person to listen and treat him as an equal, which makes Huck feel uneasy turning Jim in. They grow a bond that can be entitled, ‘friendship’, because they help each other escape from the societies hands.

The courage that Huck shows is by going against what society tells him. Hucklebery Finn does not like following the rules, and rebels against everything he is told. The biggest insurgent act Huck contradicts is aiding a runaway. He risks his own life to help out a friend even when there is difficulty. “He displays the human virtue of heroism when he decides to free Jim from the clutches of the Phelps family.” (studymode) Just by him going with his gut instinct and not dealing with society means that he is an Upstander. It takes immense amount of self strength to turn your back on society standards. Facing the tough decision whether to help Jim was pressuring Huck. He had to act quick and made a final decision, “All right, I’ll go to Hell! Because as long as I was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog.”(pg 207) A little white boy faced a family of Racist whites and whole heartedly stole his friend back.

Jim illustrates the biggest deed of courage in the book. In the end when Tom Sawyer is wounded from the gunshot, he risks his freedom in order to rush the white boy to a doctor. The doctor was surprised by the Slave’s act of heroism and states, “I never see a nigger that was a better nuss or faithfuler, and yet he was risking his freedom to do it, and was all tired out, too, and I see plain enough he’d been worked main hard lately. I liked the nigger for that.”(page 272) For a white, educated male to state that he found courage in a black slave is very important. It shows that Jim was truly a friend of Huck’s and was willing to give up on what he wanted so badly just to help him. Jim’s honorable move made him receive his freedom.

My Cute Courageous Dream

In my dream that I had recently,  I portrayed an act of inner courage. I knew that the situation was risky and possibly dangerous, but I enacted it because of good morals and kindness.

It took place in a cute country field, during the night, with a full abnormally large white moon. There were stars shining bright in the sky, but you could not see beyond the campfire light. There was a distinct warmth of light that provided a large circle around us from the fire. There were trucks and camp fire chairs that huddled within the circle and provided a safeness. A strong scent of s’mores and campfire smoke was intertwined with the cool night air. There was music, it was country, but I can not remember what song or beat it was. Somebody was playing it out of their old rusty blue Dodge pick up truck. There must have been forty people at this bon fire party, with everybody laughing and chatting in their own little groups. (In this dream I was in first person view) Unlike the others, I was by myself just bouncing from one group to another. I was happy and carefree and actually enjoyed every person there. I didn’t recognize any of their faces, but they seemed to be welcoming and happy to see me there. I was becoming thirsty and grabbed a lemonade glass bottle from a red cooler that appeared next to a truck and walked over to the bon fire to admire the warmth. When I was sitting in a comfy chair roasting my front side, I looked beyond the flames and saw this adorable Tall guy. It was weird because I never saw him in my life, but I remember the one glance I looked at him He looked back. The quick connection between the stare was a lifelong conversation it felt like. I saw his life and felt sorry for him, he was genuine person and he was never given the chance to prove it. After the quick glance, I looked back at the fire and it was roaring hot and I got up and moved away. I looked up at the sky and saw a beautiful show of shooting stars and said “Look!”, and pointed upwards with the glass bottle in my hand. Everybody clapped and cheered and I glanced around to see everybody’s amazement, but I noticed the Tall Guy from before wasn’t happy. He was being surrounded by this obnoxious preppy girl, and he was trying to get away from her but she kept annoying him. He would lean away and push her off of him, but she would try again. More and more girls flocked to him while the other guys just watched the stars. He was getting so fed up with the girls he left the circle and walked into the tall grass beyond. The girls were dumbfounded and just walked away with failure on their faces. I placed my bottle on a truck bed and walked to where Tall guy trudged away. The pushed down grass was cold and dark, but I felt so bad for him I wanted to make sure he was ok. So I followed his long strides into the dark field and my vision adapted to the new scenery. It was a little hill with a grand lively tree on the top of it, the huge moon shining behind it. The wind rustled the leaves and a cool wind kissed my face, the smell of clean fresh air. Fireflies danced around my body and the infinite field. The warmth was completely gone and the bon fire was no where in sight. I was getting scared, but then I saw Him leaning on the tree looking away at the moon. His dark silhouette against the white moon made him seem monstrous, but I walked towards Him still.  The closer I got, the more I noticed that his shoulders were shaking. I placed my hand on his shoulder when I got close enough and saw that he was silently crying. I felt so heart wrenchingly bad that without a word I just hugged him. He hugged me back tightly and just silently stopped crying. One of those hugs that you truly can feel with deep meaning. When I woke up I felt happiness and  affectionate, like I just gave a hug to somebody. From my dream I helped Tall Guy, I made him feel better and gave him a chance to be who he really was. When I awoken, I smiled from the dream.

My interpretation of my dream has to be broken down. I believe the fire/warmth was my boundary line of safety. Have you ever heard of “Sometimes you have to move out of your safety zone to accomplish amazing things.”? This is a good example of it, because I wandered out of the protective warmth into the cold field. I was not in  a safe zone while in the infinite cold field trying to help Tall Guy. It was dark, cold and intimidating but my morals brought forth an inner courage rush. I wanted to help him more than the safety of my own being. I stood up against the unknown to try and do a good deed. Courage is “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear”(dictionary), and within my dream I was not really affected by the dangers or pain. My motives were to help a person in need. Another symbolism for the fire was home. It protected me from the dangers lurking beyond the light and provided me happiness and delight. The overall bon fire is a deep desire that I always wanted/want to do in life. It set the scene perfectly like one of those in a Hollywood movie. I never wanted it to end!

Courage is within us all. It might be used or portrayed in different ways, but deep down we all can stand up to fear. In my dream, I faced a ‘cold reality’ to help someone that was sad and hurt. There is different levels of courage, but in my opinion, any courage is still courage.

Why the Lion?

Photo: Close-up of an African lion

The lion is the second largest ‘big cat’ out of group of wild felines (after the Tiger). The “Highly distinctive male lion is easily recognised by its mane, and its face is one of the most widely recognised animal symbols in human culture.” (NatGeo)  Throughout the world the lion is recognized as the King of the Jungle, full of leadership, truth, nobility and power. Even back in the Roman times  the Lion has appeared in history. “The lion has speed, is alert and has power, this represents all that is majestic. Just like the eagle, Kings and emperors have long included it on their coat of arms to symbolize supreme strength. “(AnimalSymbols)

So why is the lion highly recognized for it’s power and courage? The answer to that is because the Lion is a nocturnal animal that has authority night and day. The lion is the top predator (other than humans) in it’s ecosystem and has nothing to fear. Lions are very strong creatures that fight for whatever reason. Lions do not have to hide or cower because they are 500 lbs of pure muscle. “The lion shares the world of both night and day, the lion bears a message of prudence to us”. (WYS)

Another way of looking at it, Lions are known to be ‘The King of the Jungle’. Kings are known for being as chivalrous, honorable and courageous and being the head of the social structure. The lion is the representative of a king and thus get the symbol of courage and strength.

Lions will forever be known as the most courageous and strongest creature to roam the Earth. Their beautiful power will hold them high up on the food chain for many years to come.

 

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/african-lion/

http://www.animal-symbols.com/lion-symbol.html

http://www.whats-your-sign.com/symbolic-meaning-of-lions.html

Courage the Cowardly Dog

Every 90’s kid knows this cartoon about the purple dog, Courage.  The series was created by John Dilworth for  Cartoon Network as an American comedy horror series for kids.  It is about an anxious dog trying to protect his elderly owners, Muriel and Eustace, from evil monsters.  Courage loves Muriel  more than Eustace because she is a kind old lady who loves her dog and is oblivious to the danger around her.  Eustace is always portrayed as Greedy, wrathful  and mean.  Courage lives in Nowhere, Kansas and every day is a new ‘paranormal/supernatural misadventure with various villians.” (wiki) Courage is a frightened dog, but when Muriel is in distress or Eustace is in need of help he always faces his fear to protect them.

Courage portrays a good definition for ‘Courage’. It is when someone/something goes against their will to help or save others.

A unique interpret of Courage the Cowardly Dog  is from Creepypasta, “Courage will stay forever in Hell (Nowhere) to protect his home, keeping mankind (Muriel) safe from the evils of Hell (Le Quack [greed], Naughty Fred [murder], Katz [hate], etc.). His master Satan (Eustace) will rule over and hate all that is Hell (Nowhere). He is stuck in the middle of Hell and loves his home. He is Cerberus, our courageous cowardly dog.”

This is comparing the modern tv show to the ancient times of Greek Gods. I thought it was interesting to see the comparisons between the two stories. Courage represents the Hell Dog Cerberus who protects his kingdom and masters.

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&biw=1024&bih=511&tbm=isch&tbnid=28nBfEsmvRXthM:&imgrefurl=http://www.ioffer.com/i/courage-the-cowardly-dog-complete-8-dvds-144163253&docid=4RHY9eenxqIZ4M&imgurl=http://www.ioffer.com/img/item/144/163/253/courage-the-cowardly-dog-complete-8-dvds-42b1.jpg&w=445&h=499&ei=JMSDUvWwJZXb4AOp3YCYBQ&zoom=1&ved=1t:3588,r:0,s:0,i:90&iact=rc&page=1&tbnh=185&tbnw=165&start=0&ndsp=5&tx=100&ty=46

Can You Learn to Be Courageous?

Soldier’s Ghost

“I bled for you – would you for me?

I blessed a skin in blazing fuel
Then took a bullet in a duel of
‘He or I to Die.’

I often question ‘Why? ‘
Do you?

My country was my life to give –
Would you for country cease to live?
Sinking in a mire of death,
You have no choice –
So while you’re still alive,
Rejoice!

I cried in failure – did you care?
And as I waned, were you aware of
What I did -?
Fighting for my country while you hid
Behind your comfort back at home?

Still relaxed?
My wife and child are fading at the tomb. ”

By,

Mark R Slaughter 2009

To become a soldier,  one must have no fear of dying.  A soldier dedicates his life and blood to his country and fellow fighters. Soldiers are leaders that have tremendous innate courage. You can not train or be taught how to be brave. In the movie Captain America, Steve Rogers is a frail young man who yearns to be in the military to fight during WWII. He was not suited as a strong man or soldier imagery, but his determination and courage made him stand out from all of them. When Steve was training in boot camp, his platoon was tested by their Sgt. The test was a fake grenade being thrown at them and seeing how the soldiers would react.  All of them took cover and only cared about themselves, but Steve Rogers threw himself on top of the grenade and made sure everybody else would be safe.  This made Rogers a great candidate to be an important soldiers, because he acted courageously without any doubt.  The fact that this soldier, Steve Rogers, wanted to defend his country, dedicate his life to serving others and acting courageously.

Personally, I don’t think you can be taught courage. Every leader, or protagonist, has courage within that help them progress through the obstacle in the story. A guru doesn’t teach his students to be wise, they self realize when a time comes that they had the wisdom.

A soldier is a good definition for courage; “the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous” (merriam-webster).

http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/soldier-s-ghost/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO6qu5fQLHo

The Upstander.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRrfGXwZM7s

Bullying

 About 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. This is a conflict that is becoming popular during this decade. Bullying is beginning to become an issue because it is spreading like wild fire throughout the United States Education Systems. When a student is bullied, they are stripped away of their emotions. The child can be cornered and threatened, or even beaten. A bully hounds a student because they feel superior and more powerful. There are many possible reasons for bullying, like jealousy, social rejection and low self esteem. 

“90% of 4th through 8th graders report being victims of bullying” (MakeBeats). These little 9 years old’s suffer from emotional and physiological bullying. Many little kids are scarred and turn to be bullies themselves in the future. One out of every ten students who drop out of school does so because of repeated bullying. The students that have dropped out will very rarely recover.

In the video above, it provides a young energetic bully waiting for a ‘nerd’ to attack. A crowd surrounds the bully and feeds him adrenaline and ”Wooh’s” that he thrives on. When the innocent kid walks calmly towards him, the crowd goes nuts and the arrogant bully begins to threaten and intimidate the ‘nerd’. We can only imagine what is going on through that innocent kids mind. The instinctive courage that tells him to calmly approach the oppressor blazes in his mind.  You can see the ‘nerd’ walk directly towards the bully and without a second  slam his hand against the Bully’s head. The crowd is amazed and hollers at the new hero as he strolls away from the Bully who is now on the ground crying.

That little act of courage, creates a stronger and more stable child. It takes guts to stand up to your childhood enemy. With more children standing up for their rights, the less chance of having a emotional problem.

 

http://www.makebeatsnotbeatdowns.org/facts_new.html

The Cowardly Lion!

The classic Wizard Of Oz  provides a wonderful character that represents courage,  the Cowardly Lion.  Lions are known as The King of the Beasts which are fearless creatures and does courageous deeds. But the one in the Wizard of Oz believes that his fear makes him inadequate to be a true Lion. When Dorothy, Tin Man and Scarecrow are walking through the forest they find the Cowardly Lion. The dog Toto finds out that the Lion that they approached was all ‘roar’ and no bite. The Cowardly Lion is embarrassed and wants to seek out to be a true lion, thus he joins Dorothy to talk to the Wizard of Oz for help.  Once they reach Emerald City, the Wizard helps Cowardly Lion by giving him a medal. Cowardly Lion is confused because he wanted courage, but the Wizard exclaims, ” That courage means acting in the face of fear.” Which The Cowardly Lion proved because he faced many obstacles to get to Emerald City that needed courage.

I like how L. Frank Baum tied finding courage within the plot. He proved that to be courageous it comes from within a person. You dont need a secret potion, or even a medal, but what you do need is to face fear. It’s a good moral to live by and is a good eye opener for people who are scared like the Cowardly Lion. They can use him as a role model and try to be more like him because of how he faced his fears and turned out to be a hero of his own story. L Frank Baum created a character that started off as weak and scared of the world, but than transitioned into a courageous and bold lion.

A cool fact that not many people know is that the Wizard of Oz is referenced several late 1800 political issues. The symbolism is shockingly accurate. For example, the Yellow Brick Gold is a representation of the gold standard, with the gold road leading to power. The Cowardly Lion symbolizes 1800’s William Jennings Bryan. He was a politician and supported the free silver movement, and is said that he ‘had a loud roar, but no power or bite’.  Bryan believed that a switch to silver-backed currency would make money plentiful, but it was never enacted and lost to McKinley twice. This is relatable to the Cowardly Lion because he acted as though he was a tough lion, but really he was scared and just as nervous as Dorothy. He had a loud roar but no bite.

http://www.google.com/imgres?um=1&sa=N&biw=1366&bih=677&hl=en&tbm=isch&tbnid=r21XWUO3ak3QzM:&imgrefurl=http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/the-wizard-of-oz/images/7066744/title/rare-photo-cowardly-lion-photo&docid=0G6eOrlKiXN_bM&imgurl=http://images2.fanpop.com/images/photos/7000000/A-Rare-Photo-Of-The-Cowardly-Lion-the-wizard-of-oz-7066744-480-600.jpg&w=480&h=600&ei=RoloUsjQOY6PkAeJ0oFA&zoom=1&ved=1t:3588,r:9,s:0,i:117&iact=rc&page=1&tbnh=179&tbnw=139&start=0&ndsp=12&tx=90&ty=55

http://www.perno.com/extras/projects/oz/char.htm

http://wickedtour.net/symbolism-of-the-wizard-of-oz

http://prosperityuk.com/2001/01/a-wonderful-wizard-of-oz-a-monetary-reform-parable/

http://www.google.com/imgres?um=1&sa=N&biw=1366&bih=677&hl=en&tbm=isch&tbnid=96CEZrXaLT3qIM:&imgrefurl=http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cowardly_Lion.png&docid=6Q7-6LFIlHIz3M&imgurl=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d0/Cowardly_Lion.png&w=2380&h=2703&ei=RoloUsjQOY6PkAeJ0oFA&zoom=1&ved=1t:3588,r:16,s:0,i:138&iact=rc&page=2&tbnh=174&tbnw=154&start=12&ndsp=27&tx=28&ty=71

The Person Within.

“Without fear there cannot be courage

Fear drives the unthinkable out of us

What gives you courage when there is none?
What gives you courage to get out of bed?
What gives you courage to drive when you know it’s dangerous?
What gives you courage to succeed?
What gives you courage to survive?
What gives you courage to strive?

People have courage to live for their children
People have courage to live for themselves
People have courage to live for hope
People have courage because they believe
People have courage to not give up

Fear is not the essence of life
But a free soul not tamed

Courage is the journey of your heart
Guided by strength
On a path of untamed obstacles

Let courage guide you
As you begin your quest”

Alisha Ricks
This poem describes how Courage can come from different aspects. For example, a Firefighter’s courage is different compared to jumping off a rock into the water for fun. For a Firefighter, running into a burning building to save someone takes great strength. An example would be, on 9/11, as thousands of people were trying to run out of the building because of the extreme hot flames. Firefighters entered the building, climbing the stairs, to try to save people who were trapped in the building. Even though, they knew the chances of survival were slim. That is a courageous act, being able to do the unthinkable through fear and pain.
A different type of courage could be for fun, like jumping off a rock into water. The courage comes from within you, and can only be controlled by yourself. While standing on a forty foot ledge, being able to will yourself off of it takes tremendous courage. Your instincts say not to jump, but your mind takes control and tells you to jump. In within a split second, you’re free falling through the air, hitting the icy cold water. “Fear drives the unthinkable out of us” creating courageous acts to be performed daily.
Another act of courage could be standing up for a person you may not know, whom may be bullied, and know in your heart that it’s the right thing to help them. To stand by a person who is in harm’s way, proves that you have the courage to reach out and care for others.
“Courage is the journey of your heart, Guided by strength, On a path of untamed obstacles.” The more obstacles you are faced with, teaches us what our strength and  weaknesses are. Every obstacle creates a stronger individual, no matter what way you view it.

I Survived.

*So Elizabeth, Can you tell us how you slipped out of the killer’s grasp?* The young male voice asked.

I sat looking at a black abyss surrounding a bright light that shined down upon me. There was no life, no warmth coming from this light, just a cold gleam that only lit my face.  The interviewer sat patiently awaiting  my life changing story that  would soon be announced to the world. I took a deep shaky breath.

“Well,” I croaked, “It wasn’t exactly ‘slipping’ out of the grasp, I had to plot and fight my way to escape!” I growled, my voice raised with anger towards the end. I began to shake with fear and adrenaline, and took notice. I brushed my hair back behind my ear and cleared my throat.

“I don’t remember how I got there, I just remember waking up. It was the smell that first hit me. The vile smell of rotting flesh and smoke burned the inside of my nose. My eyes began to water because of the smell. I tried to sit up from the chair i was sitting in and realized my hands were restrained down to the arm rest. I frantically shifted my arms to see if they were able to come loose,  But like any horror movie, I was pinned  down. I tried to look at my surroundings but only saw darkness. It wasn’t the ‘close your eyes’ type of darkness, it was the thick, monster infested black out. I tried and squinted to make out any figure but it was no use. A blind man could see better than I could have.

Anyways, I began to whimper to myself, I had no idea where I was or…worse of all, who was with me. I began to scream, I didn’t know what else to do. I wailed and screeched letting every fear and anger that was stored within me. It must have been a good half hour before my voice gave up. I was in the most vulnerable state and had no idea what to do. My mind became light headed from screaming and stars began to dance before me. The beautiful auroras  shimmer and danced before me. I was breathing so heavily I could feel every heart beat throughout my whole body. My body was unable to move, my vision was blacked out and I knew  if I didn’t calm down  I would die.

With the thought of death, my whole body was showered with a cold wave of reality. My instinct mode took over my conscious mind. If I kept wailing and feeling sorry for myself, I knew that I would end up melting into the darkness and have no return. My body slowly melted the wave of fear, and began to simmer slowly with anger, determination and courage. I thought to myself,

How dare someone try to take over me. To make me suffer and kiss death of the lips in a disgusting hole like this. 

That’s when I heard footsteps above my head. I was silenced with fear, every hair on the back of my neck and arms stood up. I heard them creak right over my  head and slowly, descending. The weight under each footstep was carefully stepped on. Each slowly nearing the floor that I was sitting on. The steps were in a  rhythmic tone. The footsteps ceased for a second and I held my breath. In that split second I had no emotion, no thoughts, all I was focused on was the blackness that covered me. Then a door opened, and what stood before the door was a black silloute of a male. Towering and fearsome the low light that shown behind him made him look like a demon.  He wore a snow white mask, which was in a shocked emotion, little black flies flew in and out of the holes. I heard his heavy breathing.

‘Who are you!’ I tried to scream at him. ‘What do you want with me?!’ I began to feel the heat of tears sting my eyes. My heart was about to fly out of my chest.

He tilted his head to the right, just slightly. And a shiver ran down my spine.

‘Just let me go! I swear to God! Just let me go!’ I quickly scanned the room trying to not look at his horrific face. I noticed that I was in a blank cellar room, with a rusty door to the right of me. I swung my face to look at the doorway and noticed he wasnt stand there. I stared with cold terror, the man was gone.

I felt the stagnant air around me, the tension become suffocating. I look frantically and he was nowhere, I didnt hear him go up the stairs, I didnt hear him move at all, I only looked away for a couple of seconds.

And with those rushed thoughts invading my mind, I felt the two thick hands clasp against my shoulders. He turned me around so I was sitting right in front of his gigantic body. I screamed.

In a demonic laugh, he whispered  through the cold white mask, ‘Hunny, you ain’t leaving ever. Me n you’s gon’ live happily ever after.’ and laughed satanically again.

I was stunned. I was too speachless to even feel or speak. He spun me around and walked in front of me. His hand touched mine it was grimy and thick, I shuddered at his touch. He withdrew it and balled it into a fist.

‘You is gon’ listen and obey to me, or you is gon’ to die.’ he stated seriously. I figured he must have been from down South because his grammar was horrid, but I ignored it and shook my head vigorously in response.

His mask gleamed in my response, its open void for eyes stared back at me blankly. He huffed and turned on his heels to go back up stairs. I was filled with fear and wasnt able to move. He turned around one last time and stared at me. Those eyes burning right into my head; and slowly closed the door, leaving me in the complete darkness. His steps began to slowly ascend the steps and each step the numbing shock melted away. I was scared, I was angry, I was nervous.

I gasped desperately for air, each gulpful of rotten stench. I was so mind boggled, I went into an anxiety attack, my mind was racing with fear. But then, a surge of courage emerged. I thought to myself Lizzie you can do this, take deep breaths, breathe, breathe. Calm your mind. I settled myself and began to think.

I sat there for, I don’t even know how long, and began to process how I was going to escape and run. I tightened against the leather straps across my wrists, Do I break a wrist an attempt to break free, or await my killer? Without a doubt, I did what any human would’ve done, I ripped my wrist right beneath the hidebound strap and let out a howl. It laid there limp, but I willfully unbounded my other with excruciating pain. ”

*Wait, what made you ever think to break your own wrist to untie the other? Why didn’t you just wiggle your way through it, or patiently loosened it?*

“Well,” I gave a cold chuckle, “I guess I was running on adrenaline and the first thought of escape was to release my hands. I had a surge of bravery through my mind and pain was  insignificant during this time. I wouldn’t just ‘wiggle’ or ‘loosen’ my hand because I did not have time for that. I had no idea when that giant would return and I needed the fastest way to escape. It was the first idea that came to mind and I decided to take it.

Anyways,  after my hands were released I stood up and realized how weak I was. I tried to walk forward but collapsed, the ground was hard, cold cement. I felt the tiny scratches on my palm burn and it brought tears to my eyes. But my inner self took control of my body and jumped up. I came to a wall and scaled it till I felt a heavy door handle protrude that I previously saw before . I felt around the trim and crumbling bits of rust fell to the ground. I tried pushing on it with all my body weight but it was locked. It wasn’t budging. I gave a low whimper and I thought,  do you want to get out of this alive? Then attack it, fight for your life! A surge of courage roared through my ears and I stepped back five steps and ran straight for it. A loud THUD rang through the room, but I felt a huge indent. I heard a rustle up above me, oh my God, He heard, He’s coming!   I heard his heavy footsteps calmly make towards the descending stairs. Again I did the same routine, feeling my body slowly break with the door. Courage was the only thing that hyperdrived my body. He was now stepping down the stairs, quicker and less heavy. He was nearing the door and rattled the doorknob,

The door that I was body chucking finally crumbled and a shrieking light attacked my eyes. He was in the room taking strides towards me,

I hissed with pain from the light , but it took me a split second to adapt, and instinctively darted towards the light.

But,

I felt a heavy hand grasp onto my shoulder.

It spun me around and clamped harder into my shoulder. I squealed with pain and struggled to get free. The mans bellowing voice boomed “You is gon’ die now. YOU IS DEAD!”

and threw me to the ground. I landed on my broken wrist and I screamed with every fiber of lung. I kicked and punched from the ground but he just grabbed my good arm and held it in a deadly grasp. He picked me up from my arm and stared into my face, those empty black eyes staring straight into mine. I was hypnotized by his mask. But then, a roaring wave of courage crept into my mind. I looked at him, two inches apart, and said,

“Good luck trying, you disgusting coward”

and bashed my face right into his, with my force of a blow his mask indented into his, and he let me go backing away. In those split seconds I landed on my feet and dashed to the light.

I just ran, I dashed between trees, darted from rock to rock. I never looked back, I had no idea where I was running. The adrenaline pumping through my muscles, making each stride powerful and long.  I ran through low branches causing little cuts up and down my legs.  I ran until my lungs gave up on me, I collapsed to my scraped knees to find myself ten meters away from a paved road. I slowly crawled my way up to the road on my stomach using every energy left to make it. The dirty  leaves and grime digging into my clothes tatting into my hair. I closed my eyes and tried to swallow but it burned to even breathe. I dont know how far he was or where I was. I just laid there trying to breathe.

Eventually, a old red pickup truck drove by and smashed to a stop. It’s engine was rattling and roared  over my heartbeat. I closed my eyes, awaiting for it to be the crazed man. Instead it was a little old man, who came to my side and yelled, ‘By God’s name are you ok? Miss, Miss, can you hear me?’ I looked up at him and just gave a laugh. All I could do is laugh and smile, I was idiotically laughing but I couldnt help it.

The man was actually the sheriff of the small town, Livingston, and brought me to his station. He called paramedics to care to my wounds and health, and let me sleep in a room in the one cell jail. He fed me, and told me in the morning we would discuss what happened and told me to rest easy. He said he would be right outside the room and ‘hollar’ if I needed anything. I was speechless and just nodded.

As I began to dose off, I soon realized I was surrounded with the same darkness I was faced with early in that day. I began to breath heavy and looked around, I thrashed and tried to get up but realized I was in the same chair as I was today, I screamed and looked to my right and saw, the white mask just hovering in the pitch dark. I screamed even louder and was roughly awoken to the old sheriff’s worried face. I cried and realized that it was only a nightmare, I also found that my voice has returned and decided to tell him everything that happened. He just sat at the end of my single room jail cell and listened with attentiveness.

Throughout the whole night, Mr. M (sheriff) sat with me and tried to talk to me. He was the kindest guy I have ever met, He contacted my home town which was five hours away and told my parents I have been found and should be returned home soon.  My mom talked to me on the phone and I began to cry, I was never more relieved than that moment.”

*Relieved? How can you be relieved when you know your captor is still out in those woods?*

I stared at the lifeless light that dangled above my head. I looked down at my cast which protectively wrapped around my wrist. I said, “Well, if he ever comes looking for me again, I’ll be sure to tell him, ‘I isn’t dead, and you is’ gon’ to repay for what you did.'”

And I gave a sick smile. The courage and determination simmered in my heart and mind. Nobody, will ever keep me captive.

Lights, Smiles, Courage!

I looked down at my shaking hands.  Snap out of this! I hissed to my jumbled brain. I wiped the sweat off my palms on my shiny new dress. The sparkles soaking up each bead of sweat. I recalled every step in my recital for tonight. It wasn’t my first show, but I couldn’t help but get anxious and nervous. I carefully pick up my mask; the tassels on the top fall over and tickle my nose, I gently blow a quick breath of air to lift it back in place. I can do this, I have the strength.

Tonight was the big night, Mardi gras in New Orleans. Ten other girls readily plaster make up onto their vibrant young faces. Shimmer and feathers entangle themselves as each girl swiftly rushes to help each other. Flashes of neon pink, subtle yellow and exaggerated masks scurry across my vision.  The thick scent of rosy perfume filled the room with a mixture of cigarette smoke. It tickled the noses of every girl and entranced the men outside of their room. The background is blurred with quiet excited shrieks and hundreds of little conversations happening at once. A man comes pounding through the door screaming, “Five minutes to show time, gals!” And the pressure dampens the mood. Every girl frantically recite her moves and gives a little jump of excitement.

I sat all dressed and ready in the corner. I closed my eyes and tried to think about  the pure joy of being on stage. I rubbed my temples and tried to defeat my inner demons  My mind is telling me to stay inside this cramped room, but my body is yearning to step onto the stage.

It only takes 20 seconds of courage, and I promise something great will come out of it.* I mumbled to myself.

“Two minutes gals”

Alright, deep breaths, you can do this, you just have to show a little courage, you are fine.

The girls line up in the order that we practiced in for weeks. Every girl mumbles, jumps, gets the adrenaline going for an outrageous night. I suck in my last breath. You can hear the roar of laughter and drunk holars from outside the door. The bright lights begin to shine through the cracks of the door. Dark and light shadows dance on our faces. My hands suddenly stop trembling, and a surge of fearless, audacity comes forth. My mind sharpens and I face my nerves.

“3….2….1….Show time gals!”

We all prance onto the stage blinded by the bright lights, drowned in the bleating of the trumpets and shine our confident dance moves.

Happy Mardi Gras,

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*Ben Mae

Courage

Etymology: c.1300, from Old French corage (12c., Modern French courage) “heart, innermost feelings; temper,” from Vulgar Latin*coraticum (source of Italian coraggio, Spanish coraje), from Latin cor “heart” (see heart) which remains a common metaphor for inner strength. In Middle English, used broadly for “what is in one’s mind or thoughts,” hence “bravery,” but also “wrath, pride, confidence, lustiness,” or any sort of inclination. Replaced Old English ellen, which also meant “zeal, strength.”

Noun: The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery.

Origin: Middle English corage, from Anglo-French curage, from quer, coer heart, from Latin cor — more at the heart. First Known Use: 14th century

Literature: “Sometimes even to live is an act of courage” [Seneca Letters to Lucilius]

Common use: The lion is known to be courageous because of their strength to attack during the night.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/courage

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=courage&searchmode=none

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