Did you really think you’d get away that easy?

Eighteen.

 

I’m already getting choked up and I’ve only written one word. Fail.

 

Wow, we had a lot of adventures, didn’t we? We’ve laughed and we’ve cried, and we’ve ridden the Crazy Carousel around and around until I thought I might puke from the constantly shifting ground.

 

You changed my life, Eighteen. You broke me. I scratched and I bit but you won, patiently holding me until the inner panic subsided and the tears flowed.

 

You taught me to watch the clouds, see how they move, to know where to stand to catch the raindrops in my little bucket. You taught me to smile in blizzards and jump in puddles, and how to live a life I could be proud of.

 

You taught me how to tighten my slingshot, to choose my pebbles carefully from the stream. You made me walk, step by step, up that hill to the top. You nudged my reluctant heart forward, every step praying the ground would hold my weight.

 

And when we made it to the top, you stepped back as I faced Him.

 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

 

My gingham rain boots shaking, I slowly stood and looked up.

 

He was tall and brawny, blocking out the sun. In one hand he brandished Insecurity, the other hand Doubt. He smiled.

 

Hello, Hannah.


I nodded, face showing nothing.


So, we meet again.


Did you really think you’d get away that easy?

 

His laugh sounded like thunder.


I swallowed and slowly reached for my slingshot, filling it with Passion and Determination. I lifted it over my head to toss but they fell behind me, skidding into the river.

 

He laughed again. Poor girl, you can’t even throw a decent rock.


I gritted my teeth and turned away, desperate to slow my panicking lungs, forcing them to breathe evenly. My heart hammered in my chest as I leaned over and picked up Courage, slowly dropping it into the sling as I turned around to face Him again.

 

I walked forward, steps marching to the beat of my heart, eyes never losing His gaze. We stopped, feet from each other, His icy breath on my skin. And my voice came like an earthquake, fiercer than anything I had ever heard from my lungs:

 

BEGONE, FEAR!


And I threw Courage in the face of Fear.

 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

Eighteen, you were a battle. We won some, we lost some, but without you I would never have known courage. I never would have grown up.

 

Thank you. I will never forget the stories you gave me.

 

And Nineteen, you better get ready, because you have a heck of a lot to live up to.

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