The wind shrieked through the abandoned streets of Notre Dame. Creeping it’s way in through the crack of young Leana’s bedroom window.
Leana slept in her bed, her long brown hair scooped to one side of her pillow, allowing the moonlight to illuminate her angelic face.
Voices of distress could be heard from the kitchen in the Billows household, awakening Leana from her rest.

‘I am begging you, please do not take away my only child. She is so young. She is the only thing that is precious to me.’ Miss Billows cried, as she begged on her knees.
There, stood a dark, hooded figure, standing at 10 feet tall, towering over her fragile mother’s body.

‘I do not care. I do not discriminate against the humans in this world. I will take Leana.’ The hooded figures voice made the house tremble, casting shivers down Leana’s spine.

Turning her back on the door to the kitchen, Leana tip-toed back to her bedroom. As she climbed back into her bed, she covered her head with her covers and wept, slowly drifting back into her slumber.

Opening her bright blue eyes to her surroundings, Leana was paralysed with fear. The sky was swamped with multiple grey clouds, letting very little light escape. The floor was covered with brown and black leaves that had fallen from the tens of willow trees that stood nearby.

‘Hello Leana, welcome.’ A voice beamed.

The hooded figure that she had seen before, stood in front of her. It’s Grim Reaper resemblance took Leana’s breathe away, making her take a step back.

‘Who are you?’ Leana whispered.

‘I am Demissio. I’m sure you have heard of me Leana, if not heard, I know you have seen me. Seen me in the eyes of the people who surround your home.’ He said.

‘I am the gate keeper to your mind. I control your thoughts and feelings’ he continued, chuckling as he did.

Demissio proceeded to explain to Leana, that he was the emptiness that she felt. The drowning sensation of self hatred that she tried to float in, that he was the one who turned on the tap.

Tears began to fall down her face, her world had been turned upside down. Leana’s mind went like static – nothing made sense anymore. Leana laid on the ground, bringing her knees up to her chest, as she cried hysterically.

Her mind started to wonder, thinking about the happiest moments that she had endured. Leana’s flushed complexion, her sorrowful eyes and tears began to fade, as her most gleeful memory played in her mind.

‘Leana, you know that I am here. There are no happy memories allowed, or peaceful dreams. And if there are, you must stay awake so that I can rip them apart, one by one. Let me have my fun.” Demissio said.

Leana did not retaliate to Demissio’s taunting, nor did she speak a word – in fact she ignored his presence all together. Demissio did not take kindly to her rudeness.

The ground started to quake beneath Leana, the leaves that she laid upon, danced around. Her gaze fixated on a pair of illuminated yellow eyes, swallowed by a sea of black fur. Four gigantic paws stomped one in front of the other, prowling towards Leana. A black wolf stood.

‘If you choose to ignore me, then I will continue to get bigger, stronger and deceitful. I will make you view the world in a colourless manner, nothing will shine, except the self loathing that you will encounter. You will not ignore me!” Demissio seethed.

Several weeks had passed and Leana had not moved from the same spot, that she had embedded herself in. The black wolf sat beside the nearest willow tree, continuously howling. The constant need for attention from the wolf tired Leana, trying to silence or distract him was no use.
Leana’s thoughts of loneliness and suicide peaked the interest of Demissio, enlarging the wolf.

‘I have a gift for you, Leana. Do you want to see it?’ Demissio asked.

She didn’t answer him. She looked at him, with her hallowed eyes that had lost their sparkle, her face looked daunting.

As Leana sat up, a large mirror appeared in front, as the black wolf sat beside her.

‘This is your gift. This mirror allows you to see anybody that you choose to see. But what you see, is only their happiness. You will see them flourish, living their lives, becoming the best version of themselves.’ Demissio said, encouraging her to use the mirror.

Leana spent most of her days staring into the mirror, viewing every one that she once knew. Watching them with their families, their partners and their children, with smiles that not even Picasso could capture.

She felt lonelier as the hours passed, her breath became rapid, finding it harder to breathe. Her eyes blurred from the tears, her surroundings grew smaller, she became disorientated, losing her step as she staggered to the ground. Panic was the only feeling that she had truly felt in a long time, and she welcomed it with open arms. The overwhelming desire of death dawned upon her, it created a warm and dark sense of joy. She wondered around the forest, with no clear indication of time from the darkness. Up ahead, stood a rope bridge that Leana had not seen before. It connected from what she could make out, two islands. The forest that Demissio ruled over and another island that was barely visible because of the fog that clouded the area.

Beneath the bridge was a 60 foot drop into a rapid moving river. Instant peace of mind washed over Leana – she was going to jump.

‘Jump Leana. At the end of this drop, is the end of the torture that you are enduring. Nobody is here to miss you. Happiness and peace is what the river is offering. Just jump.’ Leana spoke softly to herself.

Then she was falling.

Leana’s body crashed into the water, the rapid waves dragging her beneath the surface. She starting to struggle for her breath, whooshing her arms around, kicking her way up to the top. And just like that, her peace became present. She stopped struggling, her mind cleared, and her body floated to the surface. She had let all of her frustration, jealousy, self-hatred and loneliness drown, instead of letting it be her anchor. She was finally at peace.

Leana felt warmth upon her skin, the type of warmth she had only ever felt from the sun. She could smell freshly cut grass, and hear the songs of love from the birds nearby.

‘She’s safe. She’s with us now – no, she’s no longer alone.’ A voice whispered.

‘Where am I?’ Leana croaked, straining her neck to see where the other voice had come from.

‘Don’t worry, you’re with us now. You suffered quite the traumatic experience. We found you at the edge of the island. Welcome to the Collateral Beauty Tribe, or as we like to use ‘CBT’ for short.’ A young woman stood before Leana, with a blinding and vibrant light surrounding her small frame.

‘Are you, an angel?’ Leana muttered, astonished at the heavenly sight of the woman that sat just metres across.

‘No Leana, I’m human, I’m just like you.’ She laughed.

‘I ended up here just like you. This is a central island, a helping island for people like us. That leap you took, it brought you here to us, it brought you to what we like to call ‘family.’ She continued.

The sound of howling startled Leana, causing her distress – until she saw what was making the noise. A black wolf cub ran towards her, crawling onto her lap.

‘What is this? Is this-why is he so small?’ she mumbled.

‘Yes Leana, this is Demissio. The reason for his growth, was because he was feeding on your negative thoughts. Your weakness was his power. He controlled everything that you did, he was the puppet master and you his puppet – until you broke the cycle and came to us.’ The woman said, as she gathered her own black wolf into her arms.

Leana sat in silence, with what was once an aggressive, manipulative and vicious wolf that ruled her life. That had now become something so miniature and tamed.

It had felt like decades since Leana had felt such warmth and love. She was home, more at home than she had felt in a long time.