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I walk in, and feel the familiarity of my surroundings. 

I know it leads nowhere, and still I enter, as if this will be the time I finally find my way out, on my own, as a conqueror of all the evil that lurks within. 

But I was not a conqueror today. Nor will I be the next time. 

There is no conquering the maze, there is only the journey through.

There is no conquering. 

Even though the landmarks are familiar, the path is never twice the same. 

I travel it. Again and again. Reminders everywhere that the shell is not the real me, only the tamed version that is most often seen.

The rest of me, the real me, is in the labyrinth. 

I go back to that place, searching for her, calling out to her. But I cannot tarry long before the shell reminds me that the search must be called off once more. 

There is both pain and hope in this place of loneliness and shifting shadows.

Sometimes there is the glimmer of a light. A brief refraction bouncing off the tangles of roots and branches. 
I run toward it, calling out. But by the time I have untangled my feet, the glimpse of light is gone once more. 

I chase and chase, sometimes getting close enough to feel the warmth from it, though never close enough to feel its full radiance.

Other times, there is no light, no glimmer.
And those are the longest journeys.  

Eventually the shell beckons me, motioning toward another exit only she knows how to find.

If I saw light in the labyrinth, I can hold on to that promise for a time.

If the light was absent, I walk away from the maze, head down, defeated. Empty hands and an empty heart. 

But I will return. 

I always return.

It is the shell who sends me in, and the shell that draws me out. 

She needs what is inside the labyrinth, and neither she

nor I

can rest until it is found.