Escapism through reading

The words capture me like a big hug. They pull me in until I am fully immersed in the world and reality melts away.

The following piece was highly commended in the OU Students Association Wellbeing Writing Competition for Freshers Fortnight 2021. The author, Jasmine, is from Great Yarmouth in Norfolk and is studying BSc (honours) Biology.

I take a big breath as I hand in my assignment that I have worked on for the last month. The last few moments spent double and triple-checking everything I have written. Suddenly I feel free again. The deadline has passed, and I did it, I got it in.

Sitting on the desk beside me is the book I am currently reading. I grab it and open it to the page where my bookmark sits, waiting. The words capture me like a big hug. They pull me in until I am fully immersed in the world and reality melts away. Instead of sitting at my desk with a laptop open to the OU website, I am standing in a woodland, small creatures surrounding me. Some look familiar but there is something different about them. They are glowing and when one hiccups, fire escapes its mouth. Magical creatures. I walk along the path set out in front of me. Tall trees line up both sides of the path, interwinding with each other’s branches, blocking out most of the sunlight that is trying to sliver its way through.

The main character hears footsteps coming from behind and so turns around to look. Something darts out of sight and my heart skips a beat as I feel like I am there in the woods. Like I am the one being followed down a dark path. There it is again. The book mentions the footsteps and a small warm breath finding its way onto the character’s neck. The characters walking pace quickens until she is running along the muddy path. Whatever it is chasing her, reminding me of my assignment deadlines, getting close but me managing to stay ahead like the character running out of reach.

I arrive at the gates of a large castle and do not have time to question it as I am reading the words on the page telling me to enter. It appears to be a throne room with a bright red carpet leading up to an empty golden throne. I move forward as the words read ‘the girl steps further into the room’. The world wraps itself around me. Only the fictional world to worry about. All real stress melts away as I look around at the castle walls and think of the adventures that could happen between the pages of my book before I must return to studying.

The stone walls of the castle rise high above me with a large, brightly coloured tapestry hung behind the throne. As I turn my head around in awe, I spot a small staircase leading further up into the castle and walk over to them curious of where they may lead me. No. Curious of where they may lead the main character.

The second floor is a large hallway with rooms coming off to the sides. The lights illuminate the way towards a room furthest away, right at the bottom of the hallway. As I get closer to the door, I begin to hear voices. Some low and some high. There is laughter too, sounding like when I am out socialising with friends rather than sitting in my own four walls, nothing like the castles four walls.

The door opens before I reach it and out steps a man with a golden crown atop his head.

“Ah, wondered when you would turn up. We heard the gates opening” he says in a calm voice before gesturing for me to enter the room from which he came from.

I read that the character hesitates before moving towards him and the room. And as she enters, I enter reality. The page ends and the next one is the start of a new chapter. A chapter I can return too later, so I close the book and place it back to the side with a smile wondering who I am about to meet and what adventure I am about to go on. For now, that is the adventure of studying, while not as exciting, still an adventure that will end in a victory like many of the stories I read.

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