This new path is dark.
On the other one, occasionally, the sun would peak through and I would feel lighter. The road was easier to climb, not as steep. The grass that surrounded the path was green, and I could hear a river flowing near by. It was as though it was almost spring, but not quite because not everything, not the flowers or the animals had emerged from their hiding spots. It was just about to happen, I was told. I was almost there, at the end of the road, one where I would no longer be alone.
One day, I felt a rumble below my feet, I moved quickly, frantically trying to figure out what was happening. I knew what was happening. Perhaps if I ran, I would make it to the destination a little faster. The sun stopped shining, and the clouds rolled in. The wind began to feel less refreshing, and more like a punishment for being out where I wasn’t meant to be.
Without warning, the rain began to pelt me. Hopeful to outrun the storm, I began to sprint up the path. I noticed that it was becoming harder and harder to stay upright, jagged stones started peaking out of the soil, and the dirt was becoming like tar.
Still, I kept on, hoping for the sun, hoping for a place of refuge.
With a flash of lightening, the land began to shift. It threw me down on the ground, covering me in the muddy earth. I watched helpless as the path I was once on, disappeared, being enveloped by the shuddering of the quake. I clung to myself, crying, frightened, and confused. The rain began to come down in sheets, forcing me to close my eyes, and I curled up, waiting for the moment when the storm would pass, because I knew it would.
It had before, I told myself.
Hours passed before I was able to open my eyes and make sense of what was in front of me. There was no light. I felt my body, blindly, and noted the aching in my limbs, my head pounding. My face was caked in mud, tears, and what I assumed was blood, as it lingered on the tip of my tongue.
I had survived, like I always did when the paths would merge and change. I felt stupid for thinking I was safe, that the path wouldn’t change for me. I felt humiliated for allowing myself to feel vulnerable enough to trust in something that never existed. I was blinded by the rays of sun that told me to be hopeful, that lightened my heart and made me think that somewhere out there, there was more.
I knew the landscape, once again, had changed. I remembered it as it existed long before I began this trek. The one when the ocean had swallowed up all the beauty that I had lived in, and suddenly, I was wrecked, homeless, and pushed out of the safe place of being.
There was no sun, there was no light. The blanket of blackness both comforted me and scared me. Would it always be like this?
Into the thick blanket of dark, I sobbed pitifully, “Help…someone, does anyone know? Where am I?
Suddenly, there was a chorus, an unseen chorus of sad voices, their tunes slipping through the spaces, and telling me I wasn’t alone. They knew this path too, and though I couldn’t see them, or know them, I felt their support, their understanding. In my own tears, I could taste their tears, ones of the past, and the ones we’d surely cry in the future. They would help me to my path.
I stumbled and tripped, the taste of blood growing stronger in my mouth. My wounds from the past began to throb, and I touched them gingerly, the haphazardness of them bumping against my finger tips.
Ignoring the pain is part of climbing, I remembered.
Crawling on my hands, with whispers of those voices around me, I clawed my way, in the dark, to something that resembled a path.
It was steep, and narrow. I could feel the entire path with both my hands, and I knew it meant that I had to walk this path alone. I felt the terrain so I could know how to acclimatize my self to this new one.
I’ve been here before, I told myself.
An item was passed to me, startling me, almost making me fall down. I knew right away it was a light, and I switched it on. I flashed it around, and beside me, on either side, there were rows of paths, women, all of them walking, some crawling, some paused, and some laying.
A voice whispered, “We know the darkness well. Some of us have been here for long. Don’t use the light too often, you’ll want it at the end. To make sure you’ve reached the end of this path. Don’t be fooled again…”
I spun around, trying to find this voice, and clicked the light off. I knew these women, though I didn’t know them at all. We were the same, we were the same story, but different. We were destined to the same path, none of us ever knowing how long we’d climb. We were those who had been banished.
I howled into the darkness, letting my pain wash over me. The senselessness I felt absorbed my every pore, my hatred began to rush through my blood. All of this was meaningless, and unnecessary. None of us had actually sinned.
Yet, here we all suffered, in the darkness, together, alone, and forever, until that one day when just maybe, the path came to an end or merged with another.
The black air pushed on my chest, as if pressuring me to fight back. No longer was fighting an option. Right now, I would survive. I would find the courage to continue walking, and to not become completely invisible. For now, the crunching of the other women, all pushing forward, comforted me, and held me motionless. They had found their purpose.
Safe, I thought.
No longer would those fashionable glimpses of the sun find their way to me. No longer would I be teased and lured by the soft lush grass. No longer would I hear the fake chorus of praises, the ones where the words never matched the melody of the actual song. I could no longer be blinded by a mirage in front of me, purposely placed to egg me on further.
In the darkness, I was untouchable. I’m sure I could be seen, that the insecurity inspiring the mirages and beauty, would no longer exist. That would be a path for others, the ones who had relished themselves more than the truth of action. They would fear, they would cry, and they would blame. They would be the victims, without knowing they were the ones who had committed the crime. But they wouldn’t be able to touch me.
Free, I thought.
Free in the darkness, free in the stillness.
It’s just me now, me and this path.